Weekly Feature

2006-04-05 / Front Page

Bumped finance employee reinstated

by VICTORIA R. SPAGNOLI Associate Editor

The town employee who was bumped out of her job March 21 in the comptroller's office when another position was abolished is back on the town's payroll.

On March 20, the board unanimously agreed to abolish the position of account analyst, a job held by Darlene Carroll. But the ramifications of that vote, unbeknownst to some board members, meant that another employee, Anne Fickelscherer, lost her job.

On Monday, in a contentious vote of 4-3, a majority of the board created a new position - another supervising accountant - and reinstated Fickelscherer.

The plan to reinstate her came in a resolution by Council Member William Kindel.

But that vote did not come without some fireworks.

Supervisor Satish Mohan called the move a "callous waste of public payer's money for a position that is not needed."

He said that department did not need anymore people - a claim challenged by Comptroller Maureen Cilano, who said that two weeks ago the supervisor told her, and all her staff, the department actually needs more people.

But on Monday, he said the department has gone from one accountant and one accountant clerk typist in 1995 to four accountants and one clerk. The clerk, he said, is being considered for promotion and, if promoted, will raise the staff to five accountants.

Cilano said her department has two clerks, two associate accountants, one accountant and one supervising accountant. And, even with that staff, her office is swamped, she said.

However, Mohan, and several other board members, stood strong.

"It is easy to say and campaign on the word 'economy.' It is hard to practice it. Tonight, I want to practice it," Mohan said. "However sympathetic this personnel matter may be, Amherst cannot continue to operate as 'business as usual' and give away 'jobs for life.'"

He explained that bumping is allowed by civil service law. "Amherst cannot be run and staffed out of sympathy," he said. "If I lose this struggle and this position is created, the voters will just have to remember what the votes were and which council person is for 'business as usual' and 'tax and spend.' The taxpayers will have to hold that council person accountable in the election next year."

Council Member Shelly Schratz was also adamant about not creating the position. "If I put a face to everything I did, I would never get anything accomplished," she said. She acknowledged that the initial vote was hard, but necessary.

Mohan, Schratz and Council Member William A. O'Loughlin Jr. voted against the position.

Deputy Supervisor Deborah Bruch Bucki and council members Kindel, Michael McGuire, and Daniel Ward approved the position.

Bucki said she was very displeased when she learned that Fickelscherer had been bumped out. She said no one told her of the ramifications of her vote.

Earlier in the meeting, Bucki presented a plan requiring officials to submit written notice when they want to vote on unfinished business, and if they want to amend something under unfinished business, they need to submit the written amendment prior to the board meeting.

It was a direct response to the bumping, because abolishing the account analyst position was an amendment to some unfinished business.

"I really felt my ability to make an informed decision was severely compromised" by not having all the facts, she said.

But Ward felt her plan was one of several "unfriendly attempts to curtail the activities I was elected to do."

However, the proposal passed 4-3. Mohan, Ward and O'Loughlin voted against it.

Fickelscherer started work in her new position at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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