By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- After more than an hour of debate and a 20-minute executive session, the Massena Village Board of Trustees voted unanimously to hire Peter Devine as a part-time joint code enforcement officer for a one-year trial basis on Tuesday night.
He will work 30 hours each week split evenly between the village and town of Massena and be paid $16 per hour.
After his state-mandated training is complete, it will go up to $17.50 per hour and then be raised to $19 per hour, pending a six-month review.
Devine will begin his duties today.
The village has yet to approve an intermunicipal agreement (IMA), which sets the terms for sharing the code office. The lengthy debate and delay in approving the IMA largely centered on how the chain of command will work.
Village attorney Matthew McArdle said he will review the document by the end of the week; the board will vote on it at their September 3 meeting.
Trustee Tim Ahfeld and Councilman Charles Raiti drafted the agreement so the code officer would direct the fire department to assist with fire and safety inspections, but Mayor James Hidy wanted the roles reversed.
“As a member of management, I can’t have a part-time guy managing a department,” Hidy said.
Massena Fire Department Chief Ken McGowan was concerned that firefighters would be in a double-bind in the event they were directed to perform both fire and code duties.
“It’s an extra layer of supervision,” McGowan said.
They compromised to slightly alter the document’s language – the new version will read that the code office is to coordinate with the permanent firefighters, rather than the code officer is to direct the firefighters.
Raiti was less-than-impressed with the board’s debate. He felt they were doing an injustice to the fire department, who has been handling code duty since the village board fired former code officer Greg Fregoe earlier in the year.
“You’ve been jerking us around since February 23 … those guys are running around like banshees out there,” he told the board.
Ahfeld urged the board to do something about getting a code officer so the firefighters can “concentrate on putting fires out.”
“We’ve got taxpayers to take care of and this is what they’re clamoring for,” Ahfeld said, waiving a copy of the IMA.
Trustee Patricia Wilson noted that the IMA includes a 60-day walkaway clause.
“We should review if this is working on a regular, ongoing basis,” Wilson stated. “We’re going to know a lot more six months from now or a year from now after a full building cycle.”