Campbell council eliminates police sergeant position

Published: Thu, June 20, 2019 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Graig Graziosi


The city will eliminate a sergeant’s position through attrition in the police department and may give a raise to a finance clerk.

At city council’s meeting Wednesday, two pieces of legislation were brought to the floor – one which was adopted and the other moved to a second reading – that caused some dissension among council members.

In the first, council eliminated a sergeant’s position in the police department, arguing it would save the city $16,000 a year.

Councilwoman Juanita Rich, D-4th, voted against the elimination, arguing it would remove an incentive for officers to stay with the department as sergeant is their only option for upward mobility.

Rich also argued she had been presented no data backing up the claims that removing the position would save the city the $16,000, and that she was under the impression the police union would have a meeting to discuss the elimination.

Lt. Kevin Sferra said a departmental meeting was called, and the officers were asked if they opposed the elimination of the position. None of the officers had any issue with the plan, he said.

Council President George Levendis said he not only wanted to eliminate the position, but he also wanted to eliminate a second sergeant’s position, arguing the department was too “top heavy.”

Levendis asked police Chief Patrick Kelly if he agreed the department’s ratio of patrolmen to promoted officers was unbalanced. Kelly agreed with the Levendis assessment.

The department has four sergeants – though one does not work in the city and works with a drug task force – one lieutenant, the chief and six patrolmen.

Another piece of legislation that stirred some dissent dealt with giving a raise to a finance clerk who Law Director Yianni Tiliakos argued was essential to staying current with the city’s bookkeeping.

If the legislation is adopted in September, the employee would receive a $1.76 raise – from $12.74 to $14.50. That would bring the additional increase to $3,600.

Tiliakos said the clerk, Crystal Crites, has been invaluable to his efforts to reconcile the city’s finances.

“I’m not trying to argue one way or the other. I just want everyone to be aware of the consequences of her leaving,” Tiliakos said. “We will fall behind again in our bookkeeping, and we’re almost caught up. I’ll have to spend another six, seven, eight months training whoever else we hire, and we will fall behind.”

Rich and Councilman Bryan Tedesco, D-2nd, voted against the raise, however.

Rich said she looked at Crites’ personnel file and questioned whether she had the appropriate qualifications to do the job.

“How can we vote to spend money on a finance clerk who doesn’t have the qualifications to do the job, but we’re OK with eliminating a position in our police department?” Rich asked.

Levendis again was on the opposite side of the debate.

“Over the last eight years, I’ve had past finance directors not give me numbers when I’ve asked, and I’ve had them give me numbers that were literally made up,” he said. “I do not like being strong-armed, but if we don’t give her this raise, it’s going to set us back months. For the first time in years I have up-to-date information. Do I regress over $3,000? I can’t. I have to vote yes.”

Councilman Michael Tsikouris, D-1st, agreed.

“I’ve been here a lot of years, and I’ve finally got accurate numbers. I’m not going backward,” he said.

Tedesco opposed the raise, arguing that under any other circumstance he would give it, but that his priorities were fully focused on saving money.

The second and third readings of the pay-raise legislation will not occur until after council returns from its summer recess in September.

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