Clarkstown Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard announced in August that he hired Frank Sparaco, a Rockland County legislator, as the department’s new part-time constituent services assistant.
Sparaco started working Aug. 27 in the $75,000-a-year position. The 25-hour a week position does not include benefits: medical, or vacation or sick days. As a legislator, Sparaco receives medical benefits.
At the December Nanuet Civic Association meeting, Ballard addressed questions residents had about Sparaco’s position.
Help Was Needed
“I can't believe the same thing happened last year, happened this year, also. That storm along with Hurricane Irene, an earthquake and all the other stuff that was going on (like 70” of snow and two flooding events), my office, which is just me and Nancy, was inundated with phone calls;130 per day. I needed help. I couldn't get back to all the people in time and respond to their questions and concerns,” said Ballard. "I sat down with the Town Board and said I need a position. They said we need to “hold the line.” I said I can do this within my budget. They asked why I needed a position. I said I’ve lost 20 people since 2002 (through attrition, I went from 100 people down to 80).”
Ballard added that of the 20 employees that had left the department, a few were on the management side (a deputy, a dispatcher and a code enforcer), which was taking its toll on customer service and follow up.
“By 2002, I had implemented new management procedures and started purchasing equipment that would accomplish more using less manpower and I was able to maintain the same work load and more with less people on the labor end as we got more organized in our work,” said Ballard. “During that same time, you also took Highway jobs away from outside contractors and made them in-house to cut costs, such as snow plow truck and sidewalk snow plowing contractors, as well as leaf-hauling truckers.”
The position was advertised by the town’s Personnel Department for six weeks and drew more than 260 resumes.
“I only wanted people who lived in Rockland County and that cut down the volume quite a bit. There were a bunch of people from Clarkstown,” he said. "The job is categorized as 25 hours a week with no benefits and the following requirements:”
“When I need you, you have to come in; when there's a snow storm, hurricane or flooding."
“The hours are not necessarily per week, when you're needed for more hours, you have to work it and they'll be made up later. You have to work until it's done; we'll have to make up those hours another week, but when I need you, you have to stay.”
“When you take the position, I can't guarantee you'll have a job beyond December 2013 because I run for office every two years."
When interviewing for the position, Ballard said he asked the following questions - "do you know what the position entails, do you know how government works, do you know constituent services, do you know how the highway dept works, do you know the difference in roads (state, county, town or private). All these questions and many more were asked of the individuals that applied.
"When it came down to two or three individuals, I spent time and talked to them, in my heart I believed Frank Sparaco was the best for the job,” said Ballard.
Sparaco of Valley Cottage has experience as a constituent services assistant having worked with the New York State Assembly Minority Conference for the Mid-Hudson Region for about a year.
"There are currently five positions in the Town of Clarkstown and the job descriptions are comparable to this new position - all paying more money,” said Ballard. “You take any of the current individuals, all of which are politically appointed and paid $100,000 a year and add the cost associated with vacation and benefits (which is a 1.5 multiplier); then divide it by the number of hours to find out the hourly cost for a full time employee.”
“You take this part time $75,000 position (that is not entitled to vacation time or benefits) and divide it by 25 hours to determine the hourly cost,” he continued. “Compare the two positions and the part time position is below the curve in salary and to me it justified the value of the position."
Check back with Patch tomorrow for Part II, which looks at Ballard's explanations on Sparaco's performance so far in the position