With a new year usually comes resolutions. This was true for the Dunkirk Com-mon Council Sunday, as it used the first day of 2012 to swear in new members.
The first to be sworn in was new Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. "A.J." Dolce. With his wife, Jordan, and sons Anthony and Evan at his side, he was sworn in by Justice Walter Drag.
Dolce said he is excited to start serving the city in his new role.
Mayor Dolce sworn in
"I am proud to stand before you today as Mayor of Dunkirk. I began serving on the Common Council and wanted to serve the city as mayor because I truly believe this community has the tools, knowledge, desire and ability to make Dunkirk better. I believe we understand the challenges Dunkirk faces and can work cooperatively, wisely and creatively to reverse the trend and make Dunkirk a more dynamic city."
He pledged to address the issues of housing stock, infrastructure and transparency, and to work cooperatively to provide cost-effective, responsive services to the residents and taxpayers of Dunkirk, as well as to develop immediate and long-term goals, timelines and realistic plans.
In his speech, Dolce emphasized cooperating including sharing "expertise, resources and development."
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
New Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce was sworn in to his new position by Justice Walter Drag with his wife, Jordan, and sons Anthony and Evan by his side.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Justice Walter Drag swore in Common Councilmembers (from left) Stacy Szukala, Michael Michalski, Adelino Gonzalez, Stephanie Kiyak and William Rivera.
He said the city's problems would not be solved overnight, but he believes they can be addressed.
"It is important to recognize and acknowledge that the challenges the city faces weren't created overnight; nor can they be solved overnight. The loss of family-sustaining jobs and declining household income, and the resulting population exodus have been problems for decades. Just because we've been dealt a difficult hand doesn't mean things are beyond repair or there is no hope. I ran for mayor of Dunkirk because I believe in this city and its residents," he said.
With a positive outlook Dolce said the budget is just the first step.
"Passing a budget is just the first step, as it is only the initial plan for action. We must now move forward and live within our means, while making adjustments to improve our fiscal efficiency throughout the year," he said.
Next, councilmembers were sworn in with new members Stephanie Kiyak and Adelino Gonzalez joining returning members Michael Michalski, William Rivera and Stacy Szukala. City Assessor Thomas Mleczko and City Treasurer Mark Woods were also sworn in.
With the officials in their places, they appointed Lacy Lawrence as the city clerk at a rate of $16 per hour not to exceed 25 hours per week, and Christine McGraw as the deputy clerk. The council also unanimously approved the appointments of Steven Neratko as the director of planning and development at a salary of $50,000 per year, Anthony Gugino as director of public works at a salary of $58,000 per year and Harry Briggs as fiscal affairs officer at a rate of $20 per hour not to exceed 20 hours per week.
Dissent was only voiced from the council when the appointment of Ronald Szot as full-time city attorney was discussed.
Szukala said that with two expected retirees who have decided to retire, the city will be starting the year with a $100,000 deficit. She said she opposed the amount of $70,000 per year with benefits, not the person for the appointment.
Michalski and Rivera also voiced some dissent, but only Szukala and Michalski voted "no" to the resolution and it was approved 3 to 2.
The meeting ended and all were invited to a reception to welcome Dunkirk's new officials. The Common Council will hold its next meeting on Jan. 17.