The Examiner

No. Castle Town Board Feuds Over Elimination of Part-Time Job

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North Castle Supervisor Howard Arden

A longtime North Castle employee had her part-time position abolished last week in an ongoing effort to rein in expenses and run the town more efficiently.

In a split vote that once again highlighted the deep division among town board members, officials approved to eliminate the senior office assistant/office manager position in the Building Department held by Linda DiFiore. The move took effect on Sept. 1.

Supervisor Howard Arden said DiFiore’s three-day-a-week job could be handled by a part-time clerical worker who would make $15 less an hour without benefits. DiFiore was earning $41 an hour and accruing vacation pay despite having retired in 2011 after working more than 30 years for the town.

“As CEO and chief financial officer of this town, it’s my responsibility to run this town as efficiently as possible,” Arden said at the Aug. 28 meeting that saw the board vote 3-2 to do away with the job.

He stressed that the decision was not a reflection on DiFiore, who Arden said he knows personally and called “a wonderful person.” However, the position had redundancies with a second position in the same department, Arden said. Furthermore, DiFiore wasn’t available to the town for about three months of the year, he said.

The minority contingent on the board consisting of councilmen Michael Schiliro and Stephen D’Angelo protested the move, arguing that it was the wrong decision because the town would be losing DiFiore’s wealth of knowledge about the department. They also said that Arden acted on his own, never discussing his intentions with the full board.

Schiliro said getting rid of DiFiore was a callous decision considering her length of service to the town.

“To take somebody like this and tell them we’ve just eliminated your position, forget the numbers, it’s just not the decent thing to do,” he said.

He and D’Angelo added that it was wrong for Arden to make what amounted to a unilateral personnel decision because of the absence of conversation among the board.

But Councilwoman Diane DiDonato-Roth, who has continually been at odds with Schiliro on a host of issues, accused Schiliro of stall tactics.

“You’re just trying to push off the vote because you don’t agree with it,” she said.

Arden maintained that he would be acting irresponsibly if he didn’t try to pinpoint every potential cost savings to the town. He also said that DiFiore, who retired last year with full benefits, would not be hurt financially.

“I find it interesting that almost any decision we make based on cost savings, it’s not too much money,” Arden said. “Well, you know what? Towns bleed from a thousand cuts and every one you put a band aid on helps, and sooner or later you stop bleeding to death.”

At the board’s Aug. 15 meeting, CSEA representative Sheila Tyler told board members they risked legal action if they abolished the position. Arden said, however, the town was within its right to make the decision and dismissed threats of litigation.



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