Nargizian back as village manager
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Monday’s Monticello Village Board meeting turned into a free-for-all yelling session that consumed both the board and the audience.
Out of the tumult emerged Ray Nargizian, who is once again the village manager.
Trustee Carmen Rue introduced a resolution at the tail end of Monday’s meeting calling for Nargizian to be hired at $72,800 a year the maximum budgeted amount plus benefits and vacation/sick/personal days.
The resolution also stipulated that while the board can fire Nargizian for any reason, he is entitled to 30 days’ prior written notice. After termination, he’ll get six months’ full pay and benefits, plus compensation for any unused/accrued vacation days.
While Mayor Gordon Jenkins and Trustee TC Hutchins balked at the undiscussed resolution, trustees Scott Schoonmaker and Victor Marinello gave their assent, and amidst a shouting match that involved the whole room, Nargizian was rehired.
“If this isn’t a setup, I don’t know what is,” Jenkins fumed.
“I don’t know anything about Ray Nargizian,” Hutchins commented (he was appointed to the board at the same time Nargizian tendered his resignation after Jenkins was elected mayor). “... I have nothing against him, but damn, give me a chance!”
Rue angrily replied that the board had had multiple chances to hire a manager since March, when the village began advertising for a replacement to Interim Village Manager Zach Kelson.
She and Marinello accused Jenkins who has been serving as village manager since Kelson was fired in April of trying to push Lumberland Supervisor John LiGreci into the seat via a special meeting to interview him without their knowledge. Rue also criticized Jenkins’ lack of printed manager’s reports to the board.
Rue and Marinello praised Nargizian’s track record of bringing money into the village.
“Ray Nargizian was one of the ones behind the $10 million grant [for the sewer plant],” Marinello said after the meeting (see related article in today’s issue). “He started the whole thing.”
Plus, he added, Nargizian spearheaded a cooperative foreclosure agreement with the county, netting $700,000 for the village and leading to a zero percent tax increase.
“Without revenue and business in Monticello,” Marinello said, “we have no village.”
Rue told Monday’s audience that the conditions of his employment could be worked out later.
However, the resolution’s terms are binding, confirmed Village Attorney Jacob Billig, who first saw the resolution when Rue introduced it that evening.
The only way the terms could be changed is through a contract which would negate the board’s ability to fire Nargizian at will.
But that discussion remains to be had. For now, Jenkins angrily vowed he would not work with Nargizian.
“Me and Ray Nargizian will never see eye-to-eye,” Jenkins yelled over the din of the bickering audience. “... This is a setup. This mayor here will not play with Ray and will not play with the board.
“... As long as I live, I will never work with Ray Nargizian.”
Jenkins also stripped Schoonmaker of his deputy mayor title, furiously calling the trustee a “spineless bastard.” Hutchins was named deputy mayor instead.
Hutchins and Jenkins accused Rue, Marinello and Schoonmaker of holding secret illegal meetings to agree on rehiring Nargizian (the new village manager later told the Democrat he had met individually with those three trustees, but never as a group).
“How much is Carmen being paid for this?” Jenkins asked. “She should be fired!”
“I just hope the taxpayers and the people who vote in this town remember [this],” said Hutchins.
Marinello and Rue angrily replied that there had been no illegal meetings but that they simply felt it was time to hire a new manager and that Nargizian was a good choice.
“This was not a personal vendetta,” said Marinello after the meeting, noting he had told the mayor of his preference for Nargizian beforehand. “... He was doing a good job.”
Jenkins was unconvinced, and when it came time to hold an executive session to talk about police and ambulance contracts, he shoved it off onto Nargizian (though the board will have to discuss it at some point).
“Why go into executive session?” he told Billig. “Ray’s got to handle it.”
Meanwhile, Nargizian and Schoonmaker remained studiously silent as the chaos erupted around them.
Nargizian did accept the position, however, reporting for work on Tuesday.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve the village again,” he told the Democrat at the end of the meeting. “It is my hope that we can be unified.”