Szyper named as new Lee water supervisor

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TOWN OF LEE — The town’s new water district supervisor is set to be Joshua Szyper, who is a Town Board member but will be resigning from that position.

Szyper, who currently works as a City of Rome Water Department foreman, also will be resigning from that position to take the Lee water supervisor job, which will be on a full-time basis for the first time.

Szyper’s appointment to the job, at a salary of $52,500, was approved Tuesday night by the Town Board, with Szyper abstaining.

Lee Supervisor John Urtz said Wednesday that by the end of this month, “everything should be set” for Szyper to begin in the position pending various paperwork details.

Szyper said Wednesday he anticipates providing the city with a couple of weeks notice before departing his job there.

As water district supervisor, Szyper will succeed David Piersall, who held the position on a part-time basis for 25 years before his Dec. 29 resignation/retirement. The town anticipates paying Piersall as a consultant to assist Szyper in the transition, said Urtz, adding that Piersall’s compensation has not yet been determined. The town’s part-time water department laborer, Neil Sestito, plans to step down and has “certain things...to go over with Josh” for the changeover, said Urtz. The laborer position will not be filled.

Since Piersall’s departure, Lee’s water system has been operating under the City of Rome’s Class D water system operator’s license on an interim basis. The town’s system has about 1,300 customer accounts. Lee buys water for the system from the City of Rome’s system.

The Lee water district supervisor position requires at least a Class D operator’s license certified by the Health Department, and Urtz said Syzper has that license.

Regarding why he sought the position, Szyper said he has lived in Lee “my whole life,” adding that the job is “close to home...something different...something new.” He has been with the Rome water department for eight years, including the past three as a foreman after starting as a laborer. He has had his Class D operator’s license for about three years.

The town water district supervisor position is changing to a full-time basis due to “a lot of work” ahead, said Urtz. He cited such needs as completing a digital mapping program for the various water system locations; lead-testing of the system that is conducted every five years and is due this year; and upcoming requirements for water metering which is “around the corner” and will involve “a lot of preparation” including coordinating metering equipment with Rome.

Szyper has been a Town Board member since October 2015. He initially was appointed as an interim member for a vacant seat that had an unexpired term, and then was elected to fill the remaining two years of that term which included 2016 and 2017. He was re-elected last November to a full 4-year term.

Urtz said Szyper had been “one of the first ones” to express interest in the Lee water district supervisor position. The town initially listed the job with a Feb. 23 deadline but then extended the search after initially drawing just one applicant who did not meet qualifications.

After Szyper became a candidate, Urtz said the town stlll “waited to see what else was out there” in light of the impact of losing Szyper from the Town Board, but “he was our best candidate.”

The board still needs to determine how to proceed with the upcoming Town Board vacancy once Szyper leaves that seat, said Urtz. Among possibilities could be an interim appointment, or waiting for the fall election.

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