By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Sam Iraci Jr. came to the City of Tonawanda as an interim administrative assistant to the mayor in 2008.
He was scheduled to stay for only three or four months, but four-and-a half years later, Iraci just completed his stint Friday after announcing his resignation last month.
The extension of his stay came as a delight to his colleagues — and his boss.
“You can’t find a guy that has more passion for good government,” Mayor Ron Pilozzi said. “He did a lot of great things for the city and I don’t think a lot of people realize that.”
Iraci will be taking his years of experience and expertise to Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, a nonprofit entity that has a contract with the City of Buffalo to do business with property owners to provide parking.
He will serve as executive director of the agency, based on Pearl Street.
“It interested me for a lot of reasons,” Iraci said. “It includes a wide range of work activities — I will be managing 60 people and working on big development issues. Everybody needs parking, so I will be working with developers to provide it.”
He has also signed on as a third-party negotiator working for the City of Lockport in talks with its municipal unions.
Iraci came highly qualified to the city.
He graduated from Canisius High School, received his bachelors from Niagara University in 1972 and went back for his masters in Public Administration, graduating in 1991.
“I finished at Niagara and I was looking at law,” Iraci said. “But one thing led to another, and I got into the public sector and loved it. I knew I wanted to do public sector management and went back for my MPA.”
He served as the Director Labor Relations for the City of Buffalo before serving as the deputy mayor to Jimmy Griffin for six years until 1992.
And before coming to Tonawanda, he worked as city manager in Elmira for 12 years.
In his past four years as an assistant to the mayor, he’s dealt with the area’s major issues and seen the city’s struggles.
“In difficult economic times, negotiating contracts to be fair with the employees and the
taxpayers has been difficult,” Iraci said.
Iraci said his most rewarding projects included working with City Engineer Jason LaMonaco on Spaulding Park and working with Treasurer Joe Hogenkamp on creating a capital budget and obtaining a credit rating upgrade.
After his resignation announcement in September, Iraci stuck around to tie up a few loose ends — including helping with the preliminary budget and 5-year plan, negotiating the CTEA contract and moving Little League Drive negotiations along.
“There is a report to be made with the council that the attorney is working on about the negotiations,” Iraci said. “The council will be considering how the deal will be structured. But the city has to do something to raise the tax base, and if it’s not adding revenue, it’s cutting services or upping taxes.”
Apart from his passion for local government, Iraci’s personal life is also very important to him. He is about to celebrate his 39th wedding anniversary with his wife.
They have had three children together — Jessica, who works for the City of Toronto, Sam, who is a physical therapist and Andrew, who sadly passed away in 2010.
Family members and city workers had a going away party for Iraci Thursday, and he had quite the crowd in his office Friday with many colleagues coming to wish him good luck.
But Pilozzi will likely feel Iraci’s void the most.
“I feel terrible,” Pilozzi said. “When you get the level of expertise and match it with his honesty and integrity and the ability to network with so many people, he is invaluable.”
He said he has received about 20 resumes for the position but has not made any calls for interviews as of yet.
In addition to what he brought to the city, he also saved the area money — working for $42,000 without benefits due to pension regulations — about $25,000 less than what is normally budgeted for the position.
“Now, if you go out to the market, you aren’t going to get someone with his experience for that amount,” Pilozzi said. “And he has really done so much.”
Iraci, too, is sad to leave.
“I have mixed feelings,” he said. “I have made a lot of friends, and the city is lucky to have so many talented people.”Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.