In an attempt to save the town money, Cicero Supervisor Jim Corl proposed cutting the director of planning and development at the town’s organizational meeting Wednesday, Jan. 4.
“Unfortunately, development has been down within the town, and this is an area to look at for reducing costs and where we can find savings,” Corl said.
Deputy Supervisor Jessica Zambrano and Councilors Tim Burtis and Vern Conway voted along with Corl in favor of the move, but Councilor Lynn Jennings voted against it.
The director of planning and development is also a code enforcement officer, a position which is currently shared with the village of North Syracuse. Corl said that agreement is due to expire shortly once the village hires its own code enforcement officer.
The position eliminated Jan. 4 called for a salary of $56,000 plus benefits totaling approximately $15,000, along with the use of a town vehicle.
‘That’s a costly position,” Corl said. “Unfortunately, these are difficult decisions that we have to make. And not only this department, but I think we’re going to have to look at every single department within the town for consideration given our financial situation.”
Corl said the amount budgeted for the position for 2012 will help offset costs for 2013, when the town will lose $600,000 in sales tax revenue from Onondaga County.
“Looking at our budget for next year, we have to be cognizant of that off the bat,” he said. “We want be looking for ways to help balance the budget when we do the 2013 cycle.”
Despite the loss of the planning director, the office will still be staffed with a full-time code enforcement officer, three part-time code enforcement officers and three administrative staff. Corl said the duties in the office will be restructured so that the loss of the position will not affect the residents.
Corl also dismissed concerns that the loss of the planning director might deter potential development from the town.
“I think the role that the town board has and the supervisor has is to promote the town and to bring business into the town,” Corl said. “We’ve got to seek out opportunities for businesses to come here and make Cicero as attractive to businesses as possible. I don’t think we’re going to be lacking in that area [because we don’t have a director of planning and development]. We’re going to be very aggressive in doing anything that we can to bring business into the town. I’m very committed to that.”
In addition, other changes made at the organizational meeting should entice developers to the town.
“We reduced the size of our planning board to five, so that’s not only a cost savings, but it’s going to make it a little easier for developers coming into the town when they’re proposing projects,” Corl said.
The position is set to be abolished effective Jan. 14.
Also at the organizational meeting:
Town board meetings were changed to 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. The board used to meet at 7 p.m.
The supervisor and board members voted, as established according to the 2012 budget, that their salaries will not change from 2011. The supervisor’s salary is $44,053; councilors make $10,462.
Councilors were given their liaison appointments. Jennings will act as liaison to the town clerk and the parks and recreation department; Conway to the highway department, assessor’s office and ZBA; Burtis to the comptroller’s office, unions and highway department; Zambrano to the zoning and planning departments, planning board and tax receiver’s office; and Corl to the town court, police department and school district.
The board voted to reinstate the contract with assessor Brad Brennan on an interim basis. Brennan’s services will be shared with the town of Salina.
The Star-Review was once again named the official newspaper of the town of Cicero.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.