In an effort to reduce the burden on Charles Thomas, the city’s business administrator, the city has created a new position, executive assistant to the business administrator, who will serve as a go-between for the administration in its dealings with constituents and council members, said Thomas during Friday night’s budget hearing.
“There is a critical need for additional staff,” said Thomas. “It’s a title I would call as executive assistant/community relation specialist.” Thomas said, a lot of these positions are already in the budget, but were not filled because the administration has been “streamlining” its operations to reduce “expenditures on the salary and wage side.”
The position is part time said Thomas on Friday, and it would have a salary of $72,000. Often, said Thomas, constituents contact him and other officials to answer questions; by having an executive assistant, the public can contact that individual to receive responses in a more timely fashion. “In an effort to be more responsive, in an effort to be timely, one of the main functions of the executive assistant will be charged with follow up,” said Thomas.
“Acts as personal representative of the director at meetings and conferences,” reads the advertisement for the position. It is likely that the position will allow Thomas to avoid attending the weekly council meetings by sending his representative: the executive assistant/community relations specialist.
“That position was approved by the Department of Community Affairs,” said Thomas. Although the officials in Trenton were abreast of the hiring, it appeared council members were kept in the dark. William McKoy, the 3rd Ward councilman, expressed sentiments that demonstrated the dearth of information provided to the council prior to the creation of that position. “In the future, if there are no objections, that simultaneously as you request the approval of the DCA, that you share that with the municipal council,” suggested McKoy.
Andre Sayegh, the 6th Ward councilman asked: “The previous manifestation of this position, was that chief of staff?” Thomas responded: “No.” The chief of staff position which was held by Charles Pettiford was dismantled by the council following the flood over-time hearing, when it emerged that the position was useless and unnecessary. Thomas said that position was in the mayor’s office and this new one was in his.
“I just don’t see us creating another position,” said Rigo Rodriguez, councilman at-large. “We don’t have the dollars.” Thomas said: “We’re in the process of reviewing resumes and setting up interviews.”