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Trumbull’s job still undecided

JOHNSTOWN — The city and the Water Board apparently have not resolved an issue from earlier this year involving a water superintendent position.

The board previously appointed Dale Trumbull as Water Department superintendent, effective March 9. But he apparently didn’t stay in the position very long, as his announced $70,000 salary wasn’t funded in the city budget.

It was unclear this week whether the board has scrapped the water superintendent idea.

“I haven’t heard anything on that,” Mayor Vern Jackson said Tuesday.

He said the board has been holding Zoom meetings during the pandemic, and as far as he knew there currently is no water superintendent position in the city.

Water Board President John Swierzowski didn’t return phone calls this week seeking comment.

City government officials have had a contentious relationship with the water board, which considers itself independent of the city.

There hasn’t been a water board president — to oversee daily Water Department operations — for about 20 years. In spring 2019, Jackson and the city offered the board a proposal rejected by the board. The mayor said a willing, former Deputy City Engineer Joel Wilson could serve day-to-day water superintendent duties at no cost. Wilson has since retired from that position.

Trumbull, a former Gloversville Department of Public Works director, when he was hired, was supposed to various duties including: Being responsible for water meters and lines in the city, dealing with water department consultant C.T. Male Associates; review Fulton County’s SMART Waters projects impacting the Johnstown Water Department; and administration related to projects such as the Cork Center Reservoir Dam rehabilitation project.

An initial Fulton County grand jury report on an investigation into the Johnstown Water Board made public Jan. 7 didn’t call for indictments. But the non-criminal report made recommendations.

Those recommendations were: The water board should hire a water superintendent, establish a chain of command for the Water Department, the board must have bylaws in place, and the city and water board should take all steps to ensure any future land projects go through necessary steps to get state Department of Health approval for installing water lines prior to selling.

After the grand jury report came out, the water board retained the Hinckley Allen law firm of Albany to litigate possible future legal matters related to the report. The firm was retained to “prepare a response to the grand jury report and litigate all matters related thereto for an initial retainer of $10,000, with future billings to be capped at an additional $10,000, for a total amount not to exceed $20,000.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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