By STEVE JONES Staff writer

DESK JOB — Anthony DiPaolo sits at his desk in the Engineering Department at the Public Works administrative offices in City Hall. Since being rehired in September, he claims the city has not let him return to his role as chief operator of the water filtration plant. Instead, he's at this desk. (Sentinel photo by John Clifford)

Claiming the city hired him back only to put him at a desk at City Hall, rather than at the water filtration plant, chief plant operator Anthony DiPaolo has filed a demand for compliance with the city just over four months after being hired back.

In July of 2008, the city suspended, then fired, DiPaolo for falsifying four of his time sheets since late 2006. In August of last year, an arbiter ordered the city to send him back to work. The city paid DiPaolo a total of $58,565, which did not include pay for a 60-day period during which he was suspended, a suspension that was upheld by the arbiter.

In mid-September of last year, the city rehired DiPaolo. Instead of assigning him to the plant on Stokes-Lee Center Road in the Town of Lee, he has had a desk in the Public Works administrative office at City Hall.

What is DiPaolo doing now? Paperwork. And what he said he wants to be doing is running the plant — in person.

According to Public Works Commissioner Frank D. Tallarino Jr., DiPaolo has many duties. He said the plant chief is reviewing the draft master plan for the water system prepared in his absence, which is meant to address compliance alternatives for the federal regulations regarding safe water supply. He is reviewing options with second-in-command at the plant, Greg Keller.

DiPaolo has been tasked with locating alterative funding sources for those upgrades. He is also in daily contact with Keller about plant operations. He also spent part of the end of 2009 spending accrued time off. He will be involved in completion of the master plan and the 2014 deadline for compliance with the federal regulations, as well as development of a water conservation program.

"We believe we’ve complied fully with the court’s order and the arbiter’s decision," said Corporation Counsel Diane Martin-Grande. "He has the title, he has the salary and benefits that went along with that, and he is performing duties that are within his job description for that position."

DiPaolo’s annual salary is $56,732. He has been a city employee for 22 years, and took over as chief operator on March 8, 2003.

DiPaolo has a provisional status, which means he will have to take the civil service exam for the job when the test is next given. That the test will be given at some point this year, but has not been scheduled yet. To keep his job, he will have to score in the top three among those who take the test, as that is the pool of eligible candidates from which a permanent plant operator must be selected. Even if he does score in the top three, the administration can choose either of the other two top-scoring candidates.

The city’s Frank Clark Water Filtration Plant filters water for use by approximately 34,000 customers in the city and parts of Lee, Floyd and Westmoreland. The department’s budget is $5.03 million this year.