Tonawanda News

June 19, 2013

Council makes policy change

By Michael Regan michael.regan@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Common Council approved three measures Tuesday in response to a state audit conducted last year. 

The council unanimously approved amending its travel and purchasing policies, both of which have not been updated for decades, though officials said in reality neither will apply to more than a handful of department heads. 

The council also approved mandating that the city’s six volunteer fire companies inform the council in writing 30 days before fundraising events and submit a financial report on expenditures and losses. 

Council President Rich Andres said the travel policies had not been revisited since 1980 and the purchasing policies since 1994. 

“We had to bring them up to the standards of 2013,” he said. “However there are very limited number of city employees who will be affected.” 

In regards to the purchasing policies, department heads will now be require to receive three verbal or written quotes for purchases between $1,000 and $3,000 and to submit purchase orders to the city accountant. 

The city accountant will also act as the central purchaser, a role that had previously been lacking. It will ensure the proper use of public funds, City Attorney Shawn Nickerson said.

Employees traveling on the city’s dime will now be required to obtain a signed voucher from the mayor, a council member or a department head. They must also travel more than 35 miles from City Hall in order to be considered eligible to have the cost of a hotel room covered, which can be up to $250.  

Nickerson said the changes were due to a nearly year-long audit conducted in 2012 by the state comptroller’s office.

“These initiatives are our recommendations from the comptroller’s office that makes the city compliant,” Nickerson said. 

In other council news: 

• The council consented to Mayor Rob Ortt’s appointment of William R. Hall to chief of the North Tonawanda Police Department at the starting pay of $107,317. 

• A New York State Assembly bill sponsored by Assemblyman Robin Schimminger that would increase buffer zones for convicted sex offenders was backed by the council. 

• The council approved a measure to investigate renaming Bluebird Lane — a topic initiated by Third Ward Alderman Eric Zadzilka. The thoroughfare was named after a bus company that no longer operates on the street, though a new title will not be selected for several months. 

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.