BATAVIA — Two residents this week took opposing stances on the subject of a city manager for Batavia, one submitting a petition Monday to the city with 161 signatures asking for a broad search.
The City Council’s president has said since then that lawmakers are working on it and they hope to decide what they’re going to do by the next Council session. However, there is no specific deadline facing the Council.
Resident Sammy DiSalvo noted Monday that current Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski was appointed assistant city manager in August 2019, while her husband, Adam Tabelski, was on the Council. DiSalvo said this was nepotism, regardless of whether Adam Tabelski voted on the matter. Tabelski was appointed interim city manager in June 2020 after Martin Moore resigned.
DiSalvo noted City Council talked about Novak Consulting Group, a firm which would assist the city with a free city manager search since Moore, hired in October 2018, left less than two years after taking the job.
“They (Novak representatives) told you they could not start until the end of September, which is coming up. Hopefully they do start that search and you do go down that road, rather than just appointing somebody who was appointed while her husband was in a position of power,” he said. “I just don’t think that is a way city government should be functioning and that is not a good way to represent the people of Batavia or the people anywhere, really.” DiSalvo, whose father, Sam DiSalvo, was on the Deer Management Committee, which worked for several months on a plan to control the deer population before he and the other members quit, said the breakup of the committee seemed to be based on miscommunication between the City Council, interim city manager and the committee.
“I think that that is a demonstration of what could potentially happen if you appoint the person who let that miscommunication happen to the next level of government in our city,” he said.
The Batavia resident also presented the petition.
“I have a petition here of about 150 signatures. There’s eight pieces of paper,” he said.
Resident John Roach said Council members should have been able to decide what they would do.
“I think it’s kind of embarrassing that with nine Council people, five of you haven’t been able to finally say, as a majority, ‘Let’s make a decision.’ By now, you should have been able to say ... OK, we’re going to go with the headhunter group (Novak) or we’re going to hire the current (interim) city manager,” Roach said. “Obviously she must be doing a good job, the city’s functioning well. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why you people still have to go into meetings to decide to make a plan to have a plan.”
“It can’t be that hard to say, ‘Yes, you’re our choice,’ or ‘You’re not,’” he said.
Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said the public is entitled to speak its mind.
“I have really no comment other than we’re moving forward. Council is still moving forward and fact-finding and hopefully we’ll have a decision by next meeting,” he said. “We’ve been working on this since Day One. There’s no urgency to rush into anything. We are gathering information ...
“There’s no deadline. The city is functioning fine. We’re going through a process. Some of that process is a personnel matter and that’s why we can’t discuss it,” he said.
The Council has talked about Novak’s offer of a free city manager candidate search, but added, “There are additional costs they do not pay for.”
Things such as bringing people in for the interview, hotel costs, advertising costs, could range anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on how many people are brought in for interviews.
“We’d have to transport people for interview in a time when transportation is not easy due to the pandemic,” he said.