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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Potsdam axes code officer

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POTSDAM — The village is suddenly without a code enforcement officer.

The village Board of Trustees voted 3-1, with Ruth F. Garner dissenting, to terminate Timothy J. O’Brien’s employment with the village effective immediately following an executive session Wednesday morning. Trustee Stepen J. Warr abstained from the vote.

Mayor Steven W. Yurgartis said Mr. O’Brien was hired nearly a year ago and was approaching the end of his probationary period.

“The purpose of the probationary period is to allow the board to determine if an employee is going to be a good fit for the position,” Mr. Yurgartis aid. “In this case, the board determined Mr. O’Brien was not a good fit.”

He declined to comment specifically on why Mr. O’Brien was not a good fit, calling it a “personnel matter.” He said it was a “little unusual” for the board to terminate an employee at the end of a probationary period.

Mr. Yurgartis said the board will seek help from other town and village code officers on an interim basis as it finds a replacement for Mr. O’Brien.

Mrs. Garner said she dissented because she had not actually seen any complaints against Mr. O’Brien.

“We didn’t have one complaint in writing,” Mrs. Garner said. “If they have a legitimate complaint, they should have come forward.”

The village still employs a “code compliance technician,” who reports to the code enforcement officer and inspects rental units and other properties for fire and safety hazards. The code enforcement officer’s duties are more expansive than the code compliance technician’s.

Mr. O’Brien, who was not at the meeting, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Mr. Warr also could not be reached after the meeting on why he abstained from the vote.

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