Weekly Feature

2018-07-12 / Front Page

Depew appoints new village administrator, retains Jerackas as consultant

by AMY ROBB Editor

Gazda Gazda Bryan Gazda has been named Depew Village’s newest administrator and clerk treasurer, per a special meeting on Monday night.

Gazda, a resident of Elma, began his position on Monday at an annual salary of $63,000, a pay cut of $28,000 from his previous position as administrator for East Aurora, according to public record. The term is set to expire April 1, 2019.

Depew’s new administrator comes with 18 years of experience, serving East Aurora for seven years. Prior to that, he was clerk treasurer for the Village of Manlius, director of planning for the Town of Manlius, and administrator for the Village of Canastota.

Gazda is taking on more responsibility in Depew, which combines the clerk treasurer and administrator positions. East Aurora separates the positions and assigns one individual to each.

Officially, East Aurora Mayor Peter Mercurio told the Bee in June that the village wanted to “go in a different direction” when questioned on the decision to not reappoint Gazda.

The Town of Aurora cited data inaccuracies when drafting police contracts in May, according to the East Aurora Bee.

During an Aurora Town Board meeting in May, Councilwoman Susan Friess said that the town received “invalid data” from the village, while working on police contract negotiations.

“It was only after he left and Kim Lamarche stepped in that reasonable data started to come in,” added Friess.

Aurora Town Supervisor James Bach said “It’s unfortunate we were dealing with the prior administrator, and there was some numbers that were bounced around that weren’t correct.”

Former Administrator Maureen Jerackas, coincidentally, has taken the clerk treasurer position in East Aurora.

Gazda earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from Empire State College and is currently working toward credential manager certification with the International City/County Management Association.

“ICMA has a credential manager certification program, which I’ve been working on for the last year. I have to get the board to allow me to stay with the organization, through the organization to finish up my credential process,” added Gazda.

The board also approved a consultant agreement for Jerackas, at a rate of $100 per hour, for any “training, assistance or provision of information” that Gazda needs.

“The village’s fiscal year ended May 31. Starting next week we’ll have auditors come in. My extent of working with her will be making sure the books are closed out and everything is done,” said Gazda.

“Probably over the next few months, just because of a lot of the grants for capital projects, I may have some questions for her about it.”

There isn’t a time constraint specified in the resolution, but Gazda and Depew Mayor Jesse Nikonowicz vow to limit consulting time to what is absolutely necessary.

“With the time constraints we had on us, we felt we needed to have a consultant. It doesn’t really matter who the consultant would have been; the fees could have been greater than that,” said Nikonowicz.

“It was an arbitrary figure that was agreed upon by the administrator. She agreed to work for that figure, and [Kathleen McDonald, village attorney] didn’t feel that was an exorbitant figure. I had no involvement picking the figure, nor did any members of the board.”

In fact, board members didn’t learn about the additional resolution until Monday afternoon, nor were they consulted about the amount to be paid per hour.

“I first saw this resolution and figure today, this afternoon,” said Trustee Don Jakubowski.

“Payroll must be met for this week for all employees,” he said. “Time constraints regarding authorizations to sign accounts that must be changed over from the previous administrator’s name into the new administrator’s name will take a period of time to resolve this change. So as to have the employees get paid on time, I therefore reluctantly vote yes on this resolution.”

Deputy Mayor Kevin Peterson echoed Jakubowski’s concerns, adding that the resolution is not something he’s “comfortable with,” but that due to the time constraints he would also vote yes.

The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, July 23, at 85 Manitou St. in Depew. There is always a work session one hour prior to the meeting.

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