Councilor Adam Sprecace said Monday that the question of whether Mayor Daryl Finizio’s administrator should assume the duties of director of the Office of Development and Planning might be an issue that comes up during the preparation of the 2014 municipal budget.
Sprecace was responding to a resident’s accusation that the City Council has not put enough checks and balances on the mayor’s office, in particular with the decision regarding the ODP. Finizio announced last week that Tammy Daugherty, originally appointed as office administrator and principal secretary in the mayor’s office, would assume the duties of ODP director on April 1 when current director Kristin Havrilla Clarke leaves to take an economic development position in Groton.
Finzio said Daugherty will receive a $72,000 salary as part of the new responsibilities, a $20,000 raise from her current salary. He said the appointment represents a cost savings since the salary is $18,000 less than Clarke’s salary and allows the city to pay benefits for one employee instead of two.
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Sprecace said Finizio informed him of the decision a couple of days before it was announced.
“I agree with the mayor in the sense that he is trying to consolidate services,” he said. “I believe Tammy Daugherty is very capable.”
Sprecace said he had some concerns with the decision, however, including whether Daugherty will be able to take on all responsibilities of the ODP director. He said more information on this question will likely be part of the preparation of the 2014 fiscal year budget, particularly in light of anticipated cuts in state funding.
“Everything is on the table this budget season,” said Sprecace.
Resident Dennis Downing criticized the mayor’s appointment of Daugherty during the public comment session. Downing said his remarks were not meant to be an attack on Daugherty, but that he felt Finizio had not done enough to post the job or look for potentially more qualified people in the ODP to fill the post. Downing said he thinks few of the councilors are doing enough to scrutinize Finizio’s actions.
“The majority is just doing whatever the mayor wants to do,” he said.
Council President Michael Passero said he resented Downing’s remarks since under the City Charter, the Council is not permitted to dictate any mayoral appointments or in any way prevent the mayor from “exercising the mayor’s own judgment in the appointment and removal of officers or employees in the administrative service of the city.”
“You can question his judgment, but it’s his judgment and its not for us to interfere with,” said Passero.
The City Council approved funding for Clarke and Daugherty’s positions after their appointments, but both salaries were cut in the Council's initial approved budget for the 2013 fiscal year. Finizio vetoed this budget, in part because he said it eliminated crucial administrative positions such as the ODP director.
Finizio later said that Daugherty had been laid off following the rejection of the first post-veto budget at referendum, but Daugherty ultimately remained on the payroll after Finizio said the Finance Department had funding available for the position.