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Dunkirk Council Discusses Unfilled Positions In City

The question of unfilled positions in the city of Dunkirk came up at the Common Council meeting once again this week.

“With this COVID-19 situation, as you know, we are still in a state of emergency per the orders of the governor,” Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas said. “We cannot bring these folks back, we have 50% of our staff working. We have to obey that order. As far as bringing people back we are waiting for the governor to give the OK on that.”

According to Rosas, when this subject came up a few meetings ago the mayor shared concerns about the lost revenue the city is going to face this year due the pandemic. “We are projected to be well over $1 million in the red at the end of this year; and that’s just with the COVID-19 situation,” Rosas said. “We are in the hiring process for them and they will be taken care of accordingly. The process takes time and we are in that process. We currently are in negotiations with the unions and there are some issues that we are discussing now.”

Rosas went on to explain there is a grievance regarding one of the positions between the city and the union, but he’s hoping to see it resolved soon.

“I just want to see these positions filled before we start hiring part time or else I think we’re going to be in a lot of trouble,” Councilman-at-large Paul VanDenVouver responded. “Our workload as a city is not decreasing, it’s increasing with people being home. We need to get these positions filled we need to get public works and parks manpower.”

In VanDenVouver’s opinion the problem is that city workers are sitting at home and getting paid with taxpayer money and not doing anything.

“I don’t understand why we can’t have them watch the gate at Lucas Avenue or put them behind a lawnmower or put a shovel in their hand,” VanDenVouver stated. “I understand this is a new area that we’re in right now, but that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Rosas went on to share that he doesn’t agree with people getting sent home and still being paid in full, but that is beyond the city’s control.

“You’re more than welcome to send a letter and make phone calls to the state and see if there’s anything that can be done,” Rosas added.

“We have a councilman that works for the county that is currently furloughed doing exactly what we are paying our folks to do, which is to be home. This is not something we can control.”

VanDenVouver suggested taking people from other departments and moving them around to where they are most needed; to that end Rosas agreed and stated that any department head can come to him and make a request as such and he can sign off on it.

Rosas went on to explain that this problem is affecting municipalities throughout the state and cited that Olean is on a hiring freeze while Jamestown is proposing layoffs.

First Ward Councilman Don Williams shared on Facebook following that meeting that he was displeased that his current employment situation was shared publicly, but pointed out that working from home and being furloughed or laid off is not the same thing.

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