Although a new resolution was approved by the Democratic led Council to execute a hiring freeze, the Corporation Counsel said the resolution has “no authority”.
According to City Charter §5-1 – The Authority of the Mayor. (a) There shall be a Mayor of the City who shall be its Chief Executive and Administrative Officer and all such executive and administrative powers of the City are vested in the Mayor, except as otherwise provided in this Charter or by law.
The Democratic led Council voted 9-4 along party lines to impose an immediate hiring freeze and promotion freeze on all positions in the City, with exception to public safety positions related to the Police Department, Fire Department, 911 Dispatch, parks and recreation seasonal employees.
Alderman Don Naples asked Corporation Counsel if this resolution is even legal for the Council to approve.
Attorney Gennaro Bizzarro said the question is not legality or illegal. He said the Council’s authority is derived in the charter and they do not have this authority according to the charter.
“There is nothing that I am aware of that would grant you the power. Nor is there anything that prohibits the Council from doing this,” said Bizzarro. “The Council doesn’t have absolute authority. There is nothing in the charter that grants you the power to make personnel decisions, with limited exception. There is nothing to authorize this Council to have any kind of say to respects to hiring. In fact, there is something in the charter that empowers the Mayor to do this.”
He said this resolution would have no affect.
Democratic Majority Leader Carlo Carlozzi still rallied his party to approve the resolution despite the ruling saying it is an effort to stem expenses.
“Nine members of the Council endorsed the resolution without the ramifications or even legality of it,” said Alderman Don Naples. “I think the proper place to have this discussion is during a budget meeting.”
Alderman Daniel Salerno said, the budget is the responsibility of the Council to change.
“There is a way you can technically freeze by eliminating positions. That is your choice,” said Salerno. “Then the Council owns it. We have until June 6 or 7 to do that. That is why there is a question of validity as pointed out by the Corporation Counsel so elequently, but this a moot point to say you are going to freeze something that you can’t do.”
Alderman Aram Ayalon stated that in Yonkers, N.Y. a council did approve a city hiring freeze.
“We might have different rules, but it is a legislator and is this month,” said Ayalon. “I rest my case here.”
Alderman Robert Smedley said the jobs in the budget that are being hired are not new positions, but rather vacant positions.
“If you want a hiring freeze defund them in the budget,” added Smedley.