by Terry Duffy
At its Jan. 6 reorganization meeting, the Lewiston Town Board opted for a new direction in the assessor's office. The change comes following last month's resignation letter by Acting Assessor Gene J. Virtuoso, who since 2005 has been serving in that role on a part-time basis. "I am submitting my resignation as part-time Acting Assessor effective Jan. 5, 2011 due to personal reasons," wrote Virtuoso on Dec. 10, 2010, to Supervisor Steve Reiter and Town Board members.
"I am willing to continue working without any interruption on a per diem basis as a consultant to the Assessor Department as long as is necessary. I would not be a town employee." Virtuoso said he offered his services with the belief that finding an adequate replacement would take considerable time "due to the legal requirements and approvals needed to verify applicants' qualifications."
The town did accept his resignation "with regret," according to Town Clerk Carol Brandon. "Your 25-plus years of service as both full-time and part-time assessor for the town have been invaluable," wrote Brandon to Virtuoso. "The Town of Lewiston with over 7,000-plus assessed properties has benefited from your knowledge and expertise. ... On behalf of the residents of both the town and village, thank you for a job well done."
But at the reorganization session the board decided to pursue other options rather than accepting Virtuoso's offer to continue per diem at Town Hall. "The board opted not to take him up on his offer," said Brandon.
Instead it approved Linda Johnson, who had been serving as assessor's clerk to act as interim town assessor. Commenting on the move, Reiter said, "We accepted his retirement. I would ask that we appoint Linda Johnson as the town assessor with the title as interim at this time."
The board voted 5-0 on the Johnson appointment. It then voted 5-0 to advertise for the assessor's clerk position vacated by Johnson.
When contacted this week, Reiter offered praise of Virtuoso for his service to the town, but said the board "was moving on" with respect to the assessor's office. He did not expand further.
In other reorganization news, the Town Board approved:
•Placement of advertising to fill an opening for town attorney. Reiter informed the board that attorney Mark Gabriel requested not to be reappointed and the town would now be advertising for the position. Michael J. Dowd was appointed as counsel for the town. Both requests were unanimously approved.
In a related matter, Dowd was named records appeal officer (FOIL).
•A Reiter request to advertise for the position of stormwater management officer, a position filled until recently by Timothy Lockhart, who has stepped down as chief operator of the town's Water Pollution Control Center. Approved at an earlier Town Board meeting to fill Lockhart's position at WPCC was Jeffrey Reiter.
•The appointments of Henry Sloma and F. Robert S'Dao to the Lewiston Police Commission. Reiter stated that a third commissioner would be appointed at a later date following discussions with the Village of Lewiston.
•The naming of Brandon as registrar, records access officer and recycling officer.
•The Town Board meeting schedule for 2011. Regular Town Board meetings are on the fourth Monday of each month beginning at 6 p.m.2011 Regular meetings are: Jan. 24, Feb. 28, March 28, April 25, May 23, June 27, July 25, Aug. 22, Sept. 26, October (to be decided), Nov. 28 and the December final audit/regular meeting to be determined.
Work sessions are on the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m., with the 2011 schedule: Feb. 14, March 14, April 11, May 9, June 13, July 11, Aug. 8, Sept. 12, October, to be decided, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12.
•Retaining the services of Nussbaumer and Clarke Inc. as engineers for the town. Recommending the group, Reiter noted the firm had cut overall engineering costs to the town by some $60,000 over the past year.
•Reiter confirmations: Mike Johnson, finance officer; Katelyn Farnham, accountant; Barbara Cich, confidential secretary/ senior typist; and Gary Catlin, deputy supervisor. In other moves Brown & Co. was appointed as the town's auditor and Bernie Rotella was appointed as grant writer.
•Town pay schedules, the town's procurement policy, mileage rate and adoption of Roberts Rules of Order.
•The retention of Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe LLP of New York City as bond counsel.
•The appointment of Dr. J. Ulatowski as town physician.
•Designating official town depositories as the Lewiston branches of HSBC Bank USA and First Niagara.
•Designating the Niagara Gazette as official newspaper and Lewiston-Porter Sentinel as the secondary paper.
The board also announced the naming of individuals to its various committees. Approved were:
•Thomas Deal to the Assessment Review Board for a term ending Sept. 30, 2015; Linda Johnson was approved as liaison.
•Jeffrey Williams and William Taczak to the town Planning Board, with terms ending Dec. 31, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2014, respectively.
•Paul Hutchins to the Zoning Board of Appeals, with a term ending Dec. 31, 2015.
•The appointments of Richard Haight, Ryan Hanna, Paul Hutchins, William Waters, Dawn W. Timm and Gary Townsend to the Modern Citizens Advisory Committee. Councilman Al Bax will serve as liaison.
•The appointments of Catlin, Robert DiFrancesco, Dr. Mark Gallo, James Mandell and Amy Witryol to the CWM Citizens Advisory Board. Bax will serve as liaison.
•The appointments of Jean Gual, Harry Lechman and Charles Stojak to the Senior Advisory Board, with terms expiring on Dec. 31, 2013. Liaisons are Bax and Reiter.