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Tuesday, May 26, 2015
The decision Wednesday by the Lockport Common Council to suggest changes to the office of the City Treasurer didn't come without criticism — including from the current City Treasurer Mike White.

White addressed the city's legislative body the same day they voted to direct the city attorney's office to draw up paperwork in order to cut the duties of the treasurer. A cut in pay is also forthcoming for the elected position.

White shared his prepared comments with East Niagara Post and they follow in their entirety:
I am here tonight to provide an experienced opinion to the taxpayers regarding the resolution on the agenda to change the duties and salary of the City Treasurer. First of all, I cannot stress enough that this is an independent office which is elected by the people and has been since the inception of the charter. 
If seeing this appear on tonight's agenda is confusing to the taxpayers, they are not alone. I'm confused as well and I understand it probably better than anyone, except maybe corporation counsel, who, by the way, advised against it because it is meaningless at this point in time. I know this because I needed to understand what the rules were before I ran for office my first time. Let me explain. 
The salary of the Treasurer can only be set in the month of July in the year that the election for that position takes place; period. 
The duties of the Treasurer of this "Independent Office" can only be changed if the votes say so; period. 
This can only take place after a local law is adopted, public hearing takes place and the voters must say yes to a referendum that must be on the ballot in November of the same year. 
It appears you people have already taken it upon yourselves to do this by hiring a so-called "Director fo Finance." Not only have you taken away some of the duties of the Treasurer that the people must approve, you have given them to someone else. Some of my employees have told me that they are no longer to report to me but to Mr. Schrader. This is a direct contradiction of the Charter. You just cannot sit in a room and decide what is legally reserved as a decision to be made by the voters. 
So it begs the question, 'Why the rush?' Why put up a smoke screen to the voters and make the people you supposedly represent and serve believe that this must be carried forward now? Something stinks or should I say "Something's rotten, not in Denmark, but in Lockport." 
Here's my case in point. Earlier this year, the Common Council put out a request for a proposal for a "Director of Finance," set the salary at $75,000 that answers to the Mayor. Now remember what I mentioned earlier about the Treasurer's position being independent established many years ago with the intention of keeping politics out of the equation. 
I'm not sure how many candidates responded to the job posting because I was not asked to participate in the interviews or the hiring even though as Chief Financial Officer I understand, better than anyone else, what the needs are in finance. 
Anyway, after all is said and done, the public finds out that an additional $20,000 was added to the eventual hire. Upon recent review of the job description, that was not available until recently, the duties seem to indicate that it is a position that will act in the capacity of a City Manager or Administrator. Were the other candidates aware that the position salary was increased? I am still waiting to see a copy of the contract. 
So, once again, it begs the question, 'Why not be forthright with the folks and upfront and say that this is what he was hired for." 
My point as it relates to tonight's resolution is what's to say that the Common Council won't change the salary for the treasurer again in July when it's really the only time that it is legally official by charter? If so, like the case I cited, what will the pay be in July? Why the smokescreen and why continue to overlook the voters rights? 
Could this be an attempt to give the appearance that you are laying everything that happened at the doorstep of the Treasurer and the Council is going to conveniently fix it? Why go through this exercise even though the Treasurer has never had the power to hire or fire and requests to fill vital positions to close the books fell on deaf ears? Be reminded that the Treasurer has absolutely no authority to set the budget or make any decisions to spend the money. So let me get this straight, spend all the money and fire the book keeper? 
As far as the listed Treasurer's duties, which is a moot point at this time, where di you get the information from? It looks like it was done in the eleventh hour and appears that these duties do not include everything that actually falls on this office at this time or the cutbacks that have put it in the position it finds itself particularly with cash flow - at a time when we need to process this as quickly as possible. 
As far as the Treasurer's salary is concerned, that is listed, regardless of whom the Treasurer will be, do you realize that the current Deputy Treasurer will be paid more than the Treasurer? 
Of the three members that sat on the committee to analyze this, one is the current Finance Chairman and the other a former chairman for quite some period of time. Not one of those two discussed anything with me or my staff. How sad. After you find out what additional duties exist, "after the fact," who will you assign them to? 
Lastly and most importantly, the intuition of our past City Fathers and Mothers proved to be invaluable when creating the Treasurer's Office as an independent one. They made sure it prevented the Chief Financial Officer (Treasurer) from being controlled by the Chief Executive Officer (Mayor). Having a Director of Finance appointed by the Mayor now give, as the very least, the appearance of politics. Do not sit there and tell me, or anyone else, that a person appointed at a great salary and moves everything to Lockport will jeopardize this and stand as an independent behind closed doors. It just doesn't work that way. 
In closing, I would venture to say that if this scenario took place when the credit card fiasco was going on, that it would have been buried with various other matters of substance by the Chief Executive Officer and there would probably not be much the Council could do about it. The Treasurer's Office did its job because of its independence and forced the issue because that is what we do. Just imagine what could have taken place if this office was beholden to the administration by appointment. Our debt service could have potentially been many times higher than it is now. 
Please know that I love my city as much as anyone and will do whatever it takes to make it right again with honesty, loyalty and trust. Do not let anyone take away the limited rights you currently have to pull the lever the way you choose because it's your city as well. Stay tuned. Thank you.

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