Creation of Junior Buyer position causes strife at work session

Supervisor Diane Benczkowski presents her case for a Junior Buyer showing files which were said to contain paperwork related to town purchasing for the past few weeks. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Supervisor Diane Benczkowski presents her case for a Junior Buyer showing files which were said to contain paperwork related to town purchasing for the past few weeks. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA – A new position aimed at streamlining purchasing was added to the town’s job inventory recently despite objections from Councilmembers Gerald Kaminski and James Rogowski.

Mr. Kaminski questioned the need for the creation of a Junior Buyer position when the matter was brought up during the council’s work session last week.

“I think we’re going about this for the sake of another term, backward.  To me, to put a junior in place – who is this person going to learn from who’s going to direct them? Who is going to guide them,” Mr. Kaminski said.

The idea of the position was born out of a collaborative effort with Erie County during a shared services panel last year according to Supervisor Diane Benczkowski.  The county said a Junior Buyer position was needed if the town wanted to streamline purchasing using the county’s purchasing department.  Currently, department heads purchase a bulk of required items themselves or outsource it to the town’s legal department to create a request for proposal.

“That’s why we need to take a very tough stand on purchasing,” Ms. Benczkowski said showing files which were said to contain paperwork related to town purchasing for the past few weeks.  “We have all these purchases and inventory control.  This is why we need to have a Junior Buyer at some point.  To try and get this under control. Nobody is in charge of purchasing.  Everybody is doing their own purchasing.”

The position was added to the town’s inventory during the town board meeting later in the evening.  No one was hired to fill the position.  Messrs. Kaminski and Rogowski were the dissenting votes citing ballooning costs in the town budget.

“Looking at the budget numbers, this town is in financial trouble. Period,” said Mr. Kaminski. “Next year is going to be even worse and we’re looking at more, and more, and more people on with a bigger and bigger payroll that addon to fixed costs that we can no longer afford.”

“Creating positions like this are not beneficial to our taxpayers,” said Mr. Rogowski. “I cannot continue to create positions and hire people that are going to impact our taxpayers. I’m not going to do it.  Every time we create a position, the following meeting or sometimes during the meeting we put a person in the job.”

The position is a civil service job. However, Coordinator of Employee Relations Karen Marchese told board members that the county does not have a current list to appoint from so the town board can appoint any town resident now, and that person may keep the job as long as he or she passes the civil service test once it is administered.