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Local

Batavia aldermen debate, then OK, department head reappointments

BATAVIA – Aldermen this week turned what is a normally routine reappointment of the city's department heads into a debate about the process.

In the end, aldermen approved Mayor Jeff Schielke's annual list of department head reappointments, including Bill McGrath as city administrator, Peggy Colby as finance director and budget officer, Gary Schira as police chief, Randy Deicke as fire chief and Gary Holm as public works director. The appointments were approved Monday.

The appointments are effective through April 30, 2014. Fifth Ward Alderman Steve Vasilion voted "no."

"When I ran and was elected, there were a lot of people looking for change," Vasilion said. "I would appreciate the time to evaluate the positions and get feedback on those who are exceptional and those who aren't."

Vasilion, who was elected to the City Council in April, said his vote was "solely about the process, not about people." Schielke can make department head appointments for 60 days without the consent of the City Council.

"It is not your role to be hiring or firing department heads," McGrath said to the aldermen. "The mayor has the sole power to hire department heads."

Second Ward Alderman Martin Callahan, another new alderman, also expressed frustration with the process.

"I don't have enough information to fairly evaluate a person's position with the city," Callahan said. "I wouldn't want to just rubber stamp what the mayor says."

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