Councilman John Deleo opposes including money for an assistant city manager in Batavia's budget for 2015-16 and wants his vote on the record.
In what one of his colleagues characterized as an 11th-hour plea, Deleo asked near the end of Monday's City Council meeting how he goes about proposing a budget amendment.
Deleo said his constituents don't want him to drop the issue.
"We talked about it at budget time, but it never came up," Deleo said. "It was never put on the agenda here, but I made a promise to the voters that they wouldn't grease the rails and slide this though. I would make sure I would bring it up."
The council approved the addition of an assistant city manager position in the 2014-15 budget and over the summer, local resident Gretchen Difante was hired to fill the role. Since then, she's worked on a variety of issues for the city, including flood insurance, problems with the emergency communications system, administrative services, including finance, the clerk-treasurer, personnel, information technology, the youth bureau and assessment. She's even been called on to help city residents deal with feral cats.
Her annual salary is $75,950.
While Deleo maintains the majority of the people he's heard from say the city should eliminate Difante's job, Councilman John Canale said he is hearing a completely different message.
The feedback he's getting, he said, is the job is needed.
Couching his words with phrases like "in all due respect" Canale was critical of Deleo's request for a vote after the council has already been through budget work sessions and a public hearing on the budget.
The budget needs to be approved by April 1 and making a substantial change at this stage would require a second public hearing, which could potentially jeopardize timely passage.
At any point in the process, Deleo could have made a motion to eliminate the job, but didn't.
"This is a knee-jerk reaction," Canale said. "We had this discussion many, many times. We had several budget sessions and nowhere did you ask Mr. Molino to take it out of the budget."
Canale called on Deleo to show some leadership and do what's right for the city.
"I voted against this job from the get go," Deleo said, "because that's what the people said. I still work for the people. I'm still against this and I want to get it on the record that I'm still against it and that's what I'm asking for."
At one point, after much discussion, Deleo made a motion, seconded by Briggs, to schedule a budget workshop session for Friday evening.
At such a session, Deleo could make his motion and if it passed -- and even Deleo conceded it wasn't likely to pass -- a public hearing on the amended budget could be scheduled.
After further discussion, City Manager Jason Molino said he had run some calendar calculations, and if the council waits until its March 9 meeting for a vote on Deleo's proposed budget amendment there would be a day or two of wiggle room to get in a public hearing before a final budget vote.
With that, Deleo withdrew his motion for an early meeting.
At several points during the discussion, Molino told council that at no point has the council expressed a request for him to do a budget analysis on the impact of removing the position, both for its impact on the tax rate and its impact on city operations.
By the end of the meeting, no council member made that request.