FONDA - The clerk of Montgomery County's legislature has appointed two people for new positions within the county.
Clerk Cheryl Reese has named Jacki Meola as the county's new legislative research specialist, and Deborah Chan as deputy clerk. Meola will receive a salary of $42,520 and Chan will receive $2,500.
At last week's legislative meeting a resolution for the two positions was passed after a long, heated discussion. District 6 Legislator John "Duke" Duchessi was completely opposed to the new positions.
Duchessi said he originally thought the legislature was strictly looking for a deputy clerk to fill in for Reese when she was absent, and to help research, analyze and prepare documents.
However, Personnel Director Richard Baia advised the legislature to split the position in two.
District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz, chairman of the Education and Government Committee, said he originally suggested creating a deputy clerk position that had the duties of a legislative research specialist.
Baia told Weitz the deputy clerk position is already defined by New York State civil service law, however, and the definition cannot be changed. The law requires that the deputy clerk be a resident of the county and the definition does not include the duties of a research specialist.
"Looking at the [deputy clerk] job description we found that that's not what we [the Legislature] had discussed," Weitz said. "So the personnel director suggested splitting the two ideas into two and having two different line items."
Weitz said he advised Reese to think of two people who would fit the qualifications for the positions, which she did, and later emailed who she had in mind to the legislature.
Duchessi created a memorandum before last week's meeting questioning the research specialist position and the process in which the job was being created. In the memorandum he criticized the legislature for "acting hastily."
He also criticized the legislature for creating additional costs for the county.
"A full-time legislative research analyst is not necessary for the creation of a county administrative code and creates additional costs to the county on an annual basis when the work to be performed will be largely, if not entirely, completed in one year," the memorandum said.
Weitz said the research specialist job was not created for a specific person.
"One or two legislators were suggesting that the job was created specifically for someone, but it was created with good intent and as it developed, and [Reese] thought of who she should appoint for the job, Jacki Meola was the perfect fit," Weitz said.
Meola?- who is the economic development specialist at the county's business development center - said this morning she will start work as the legislative research specialist Monday. Her duties as transportation coordinator - which are part of her current job - will carry over to her duties as research specialist, she said.