Montgomery County supervisors OK safety officer position

FONDA – The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution Tuesday establishing the position of a part-time safety officer.

“Because it’s a part-time position it may be something that retired policemen or firemen may be looking at,” John Thayer, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said

“First, we’re looking for somebody who will be familiarized with [Occupational Safety & Health Administration] and [Public Employee Safety & Health Program] regulations, and in general go around the county and try to educate personnel on safety,” he said. “Secondly, we’d like them to keep an eye out for any potential situations that could be unsafe and try to remedy those.”

The resolution was defeated Sept. 17, but it was suggested the measure be re-voted on at the full board meeting Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in 2007 for the establishment of a full-time safety officer.

However, Dominick Stagliano, supervisor of St. Johnsville, said the full-time safety officer was told by supervisors before 2010 he wouldn’t be in the next budget, so the officer left the position.

“It wasn’t because we didn’t have a safety officer, we had one,” Stagliano said.

However, Stagliano also said when the safety officer wanted to discipline someone for a violation, some of the supervisors did not support the action.

Stagliano asked “So, the thing is, we’re going to do the same thing we did before and we’re going to make the same statement we made before: we’re going to back this safety officer, right?”

Thomas DiMezza, town of Amsterdam supervisor, said he backed the full-time safety officer. DiMezza said the position would be well-worth what the county would pay to avoid violations and fines.

“If we hire the right person and they are certified they can come in here [Montgomery County] and make corrections so that we don’t have to go through these violations and get written up and possibly get fined,” DiMezza said.

The new Montgomery County Legislature will replace the Board of Supervisors in January. The new form of government also will include an elected county executive.

Minden Supervisor Thomas Quackenbush was concerned the new county executive might not agree with having the position.

“Three months from now it could all change and [the county executive] may decide they don’t want to spend $11,000,” he said. “And if that person doesn’t appoint somebody, because it’s their appointment, then it’s a complete waste of time. This is a complete waste of time.”

On Thursday, Stagliano – who’s the Democratic candidate for county executive – said Quackenbush was incorrect.

“The county Legislature creates positions and the county executive fills positions,” he said. “So, if the position was in the budget then it’s up to the county executive to fill that position. Since the position is created it would be the obligation of the county executive to fill it.”

Barbara Wheeler, 4th Ward supervisor for the city of Amsterdam, said safety is what is most important in the county.

“We’re talking about starting off this new form of government in the best possible way, having safety as a mindset,” she said. “This isn’t talking about having them take care of it when they get a hold of it. What if we want this [safety officer]?”

The position was amended to have an annual salary of $11,000. The contractual expenses until the end of the year total $2,200.

The board voted on the amended resolution and all were in favor except for supervisors Quackenbush, Stagliano, Jeffrey Stark the 2nd Ward supervisor for the city of Amsterdam, Lawrence Coddington of Glen, Robert Sullivan of Charleston and Herbert Allen of Canajoharie.