Schenectady director of operations appears close to retiring
SCHENECTADY The city’s longtime director of operations is thinking about saying goodbye.
Sharon Jordan, who is paid $25 an hour as a city consultant, has been signalling for months that she may be leaving. The City Council doubled the amount of money set aside for her services next year, in case a new director must be hired, and she signed a new contract that allows her to retire at any time.
“I signed up for this job for six months and I’ve been here seven years,” she said, before stressing that she hasn’t made a decision yet.
Jordan was Mayor Brian U. Stratton’s campaign manager and started working at City Hall shortly after he won his first mayoral election. At the time, Stratton said she would likely stay for six months to help him reorganize City Hall.
“And I thanked my lucky stars she was here every day since,” he said. “She’s functioned in every capacity as deputy mayor, she knows the operation inside and out. She is indispensable.”
Jordan runs her own consulting firm, SAJ Consultants. She officially retired in 2002 from the Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority, which she led for 16 years.
But she couldn’t stop working. In 2003, she ran Stratton’s campaign. Starting in 2004, she began working 30 hours a week, every week. That gives her about $30,000 a year — less than half of what she made when she worked at the MHA.
She said she’s not looking to find a more lucrative job.
“I really like it. I love it,” she said of her City Hall work.
Instead, she’s thinking about settling down. Her main motivation: her three-year-old granddaughter.
After all these years of refusing to really retire, the little girl has her considering the value of not working.
“I’m beginning to think about it,” Jordan said.
She hasn’t made up her mind yet — although she’s close enough to a decision that she warned city officials to put money in the budget to hire her replacement.
“They’ll have to find someone, and whoever it is won’t do it for $30,000,” she said.
Jordan was partly able to work for that salary because she receives retirement benefits from her MHA job. The city does not pay her health insurance.
Stratton said he’ll need to replace her if she leaves. His main administrative aide, Andrea Fox, is leaving because her job was eliminated in the 2011 budget.
“Andrea and Sharon are my two primary staff people,” he said. “You need someone as an administrative person. Andrea does communication, special projects, correspondence, website maintenance. Sharon is the chief of staff, no two ways about it. You would need someone to fulfill that responsibility.”
Jordan is also the administrator for the development department and runs the weekly staff meetings.
“I do a little bit of everything,” she said. “I just pick up the pieces.”
The last mayor, Al Jurczynski, never had a director of operations. But he repeatedly asked for one, and the City Council agreed one was needed. When Stratton took over, he found that Jurczynski had fallen badly behind on essential paperwork, including many appointments which he did not confirm until months after the appointee had started work.