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The Berkshires

Controversy over vacant controller seat

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Albany/HV: Controversy over vacant controller seat
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A sudden death in office has left the City of Amsterdam with no controller. It has sparked controversy between the mayor and some common council members on what to do next. YNN's Maria Valvanis has more.

AMSTERDAM, N.Y. -- Ever since late controller Ron Wierzbicki passed away last month, Mayor Thane has been trying to fill his empty seat.

Mayor Thane said, “They need to start being responsible, the council and we need to get someone in place.”

Manfred Phemister was the only person to apply for the job. He ran unsuccessfully against Weirzbicki in 2011. Mayor Thane proposed a resolution to appoint Phemister, but the council rejected the idea in a three to two vote.

“This is an ongoing process that requires an educated person and skilled person that needs to be in place for years,” said City Councilman Dave Dybas.

Dybas says the job is far too complex to appoint someone this quickly. Even before Weirzbicki's passing, the city started looking for a deputy controller to share in the workload. But Mayor Thane says the city doesn't have any time to spare.

“We are at a critical juncture here in the city. We had been converting our accounting software from one system to another system, we have a foreclosure in mid air, we have the budget starting in a week,” said Thane.

Dybas said, “There’s nobody qualified. I say we go ahead hire our deputy controller, put that person in place, let that person wade through what needs to be done.”

But Mayor Thane says if the council doesn’t appoint someone to take over this office by Monday, they're actually breaking the law.

“The council is expected to appoint someone that is 18 years old, someone that is a resident, someone that is a democrat, within a 30 day period,” said Mayor Thane.

Councilman Dybas says the charter law is outdated and corporation council has already begun to draft a new one.

Mayor Thane called a special meeting for Thursday night, hoping a re-vote will have different results.

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