may stay to train successor
By Jay Tokasz
News Staff Reporter
Published:July 17, 2012, 12:03 AM
Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski and the City Council are considering a one-year contract for longtime City Comptroller Robert Marciniak that would allow him to train his likely successor.
Marciniak submitted a letter of resignation effective Friday after the council trimmed his salary to $10,000.
The council had anticipated Peggy Bigaj-Sobol, the deputy comptroller, would be able to fulfill fiduciary duties for the city, including transferring funds and remitting payroll taxes.
But Bigaj-Sobel, who was appointed to the post in May, told city officials she needed more training from Marciniak to take on those responsibilities.
Without a comptroller, the city faced the possibility of not being able to move money between accounts.
Szymanski and Erie County Deputy Comptroller Michael R. Szykala warned that Marciniak's departure could have made it difficult for the city to pay vendors and employees, and Szymanski last week urged the council to reconvene to address the issue.
The council on Monday called a special meeting for 4 p.m. Thursday to consider a budget amendment for the comptroller's post.
Council President Henry R. Pirowski said Monday that the situation wasn't as dire as indicated by the mayor, who called a press conference last Wednesday to discuss the "grave danger" the city faced.
City workers were never in jeopardy of not being paid, said Pirowski.
"That's just blatantly not true," he said. "To put that idea in people's minds was disappointing."
All the mayor needed to do was appoint a certified public accountant to perform the tasks of the comptroller, Pirowski said.
"I'm more than positive that there's more than one CPA in the City of Lackawanna," he said.
Nonetheless, council members were willing to put their differences with the mayor aside and keep Marciniak on staff to train Bigaj-Sobol and ensure the city fulfills its financial obligations, he added.
A longtime city employee, Marciniak was being paid $30,000 as a part-time comptroller. He also receives a pension from the state retirement system.
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