Councilors say the city is being penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to leaving critical positions open to save money.
Councilor Melinda E. Barrett (pictured) asked her colleagues to join her in sending a message to the mayor that the city needs to review unfilled jobs and under-utilized employees.
Part-time purchasing agent Steven S. Bucuzzo works only 25 hours a week, Barrett said, not enough to manage purchasing for all city departments. Without a full-time aide in the department, a lot of things don’t get finished, she said.
“At some point, this will cost the city, not save money,” Barrett said.
The fate of billions of dollars worth of public buildings is left to chance, with no facilities manager on the city payroll.
“We saw it this week with the extreme cold weather. At the high school there were rooms with no heat, rooms with too much heat,” Barrett said. “Every school, including the Hunking, had broken pipes.”
Councilor Colin F. LePage said this is not the first time councilors have raised the issue of unfilled jobs.
“We’ve been trying to get away with doing as little as possible, but it costs more in the long run,” LePage said. “We need oversight; we don’t want to have any more failures of systems or buildings.”
Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan said the mayor needs to address the issue early in the budget process.
Councilor William J. Macek said he doesn’t doubt that the purchasing agent and facilities manager are key jobs that would benefit the city if they were filled with full-time workers.
“We have deficiencies that need to be filled. These are important positions, but there might be more important positions to be filled that we may not know about,” Macek said.
Councilors agreed it would be best to confer with the mayor and School Committee to discuss the most cost-effective yet useful ways to fill some of the gaps in staffing.