WATERVLIET, NY — The City of Watervliet’s general manager is speaking about the decision to furlough the police chief.
Initially it was thought that the chief could be brought back if finances allowed for it, but NewsChannel 13 has learned there is no intention of bringing Chief Anthony Geraci back. General Manager Joseph LaCivita explained the decision Thursday.
“It wasn’t about titles it wasn’t about position,” he said. “It was really about what was going to happen on the streets.”
LaCivita said the city is facing an estimated $1.2 million budget gap due to the pandemic.
To help close that gap, they decided to furlough Geraci. LaCivita told NewsChannel 13 they chose between Geraci and three patrol officers.
“When you look at the chief’s position versus three positions that are potentially on the furlough block you would jeopardize public safety times three,” LaCivita said. “So you lost three bodies out on the streets, you lost the protection to the residents and you lost the protections to the other officers that are on the beat with the individuals.”
LaCivita couldn’t say how much that would save the city, but the 2020 budget lists Geraci’s salary at $96,0000.
LaCavitia said Geraci won’t receive benefits on furlough because his contract was never ratified by city council.
He said an Acting Chief will assume Geraci’s responsibilities in the interim.
Unfortunately, the furloughs aren’t limited to the police department. LaCivita said “everything is still on the table.”
“There’s going to probably be a few more layoffs coming a few more furloughs coming up to as many as seven or 10 going forward,” he said.
NewsChannel 13 asked LaCivita why the city needs both a mayor and a general manager on the payroll in the wake of the pandemic. He said this role is indispensable because the city’s charter gives him power to oversee public safety, public works, code enforcement and city administration.
As for when the furloughed employees may return to work, LaCivita said that’s still unclear.
“The ‘I don’t know’ answer is never good and unfortunately we give that day after day that we don’t know, that we don’t know what the next step is, we don’t know where those monies are, we don’t know where those monies are going to be,” he said.
NewsChannel 13 reached out to Chief Geraci for comment on this decision, but did not hear back.