TONAWANDA, NY - Lawmakers in Erie County's third most populous town have appointed Jeffrey P. Ehlers as director of the town's Department of Youth, Parks and Recreation.
Ehlers succeeds Daniel J. Wiles, who has retired from the post.
Ehlers will be paid an annual salary of $98,000 according to a resolution passed by the town board on Monday.
"I don't think we'll work him to death but I certainly think he'll be earning his money," said Town Supervisor Anthony F. Caruana, who believes it is a fair salary for Ehlers considering the workload and responsibilities of the post.
Ehlers' salary will actually be $23,000 more than Caruana earns as the town's top elected official.
Wiles earned $107,000 annually.
Ehlers, who has been employed by the town for 28 years, served the last four of those as an assistant to Wiles.
According to Caruana, Ehlers will not only have oversight of the towns varied youth and adult recreation programs, but also its six town parks and 12 playgrounds, two golf courses, its golf dome , outdoor driving range, two ice arenas, four outdoor pools, and its world class aquatic and fitness center.
The facilities and programs, which Ehlers will oversee, generate millions of dollars in fees for the town annually. He will have responsibility for 70 full time employees, and hundreds more seasonal workers according to the Supervisor.
Tonawanda has a population of 73,567 according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
However, nearby Amherst (pop. 122,366) pays the person in charge of its parks and recreation programs 10% less than Ehlers will earn.
Caruana insists Ehlers is worth what he is being paid, considering the other hats he will wear.
"He also oversees our senior center and will be responsible for maintaining most of the town buildings. We also do all the youth and parks programs for the Village of Kenmore," Caruana said.
When asked, Caruana said he had received no objections from town residents to Ehlers' nearly six-figure salary.
"I think many in our town enjoy the first class recreational facilities and programs we offer. They're quality of life assets which they would like to see maintained, and I think Jeff is going to do a terrific job at that," he said.
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