By STEVE JONES Staff writer

The city has been ordered to return the head of the water filtration plant to the building in which he previously worked, not just reinstate his title, according to a decision in State Supreme Court.

Chief water plant operator Anthony DiPaolo was suspended, then fired, by the city in July of 2008 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 in his old title. The city also had to pay 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.

DiPaolo was rehired in mid-September of last year. Since then, he claimed the city merely gave him a desk job at the Public Works administrative office in City Hall doing paperwork, rather than sending him back to his old duties at the plant on Stokes-Lee Center Road in the Town of Lee.

DiPaolo, a member of the Civil Service Employees Association, brought a union-supported motion alleging contempt for non-compliance against Mayor James F. Brown, Corporation Counsel Diane Martin-Grande and DPW Commissioner Frank D. Tallarino Jr.

State Supreme Court Judge Bernadette T. Clark made her decision Wednesday in Utica. "There was a finding against the city," said Martin-Grande. "The city has been directed to return Mr. DiPaolo to his position as chief operator at the water filtration plant." And "not just to his title, but to physically place him at the plant," she added. That has to be done by Monday, she said.

Clark reserved her decisions on awarding financial losses to DiPaolo and for possible imposition of fines against the city for its actions for up to 45 days.

The city is not out of options, Martin-Grande noted. "There is an appeal process that’s available," she said. "I’ve been directed by the mayor to explore what legal options we have available to us at this point in time."

To date, DiPaolo has not filed a notice of claim against the city for civil damages.

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.

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.