Maintenance strives for quality with fewer numbers

Tuition increases and program cuts are not the only casualties of the budget cuts Albany has imposed on the SUNY system - Geneseo's maintenance staff is taking a hit as well.

"We've been cut on two fronts: a percentage of our salaried positions and a percentage of our operating budget," said George Stooks, assistance vice president for facilities and planning.

According to Stooks, facilities are experiencing a hold on hiring to fill some open positions. While no jobs have been cut, there are currently 10 custodial and two management positions vacant, as well as two positions in the heating plant. Authorization has been given to fill three of the custodial positions, likely within the next few weeks.

Stooks said that the biggest impact is on academic buildings, as maintenance is trying to minimize the effects on the residence halls.

"We don't have the ability to perform the same services that we did before," said Stooks.

Seneca Hall, which opened this semester, is short on cleaning staff due to the hiring freeze. Unlike in other halls, Seneca residents have been cleaning their own bathrooms, although Kim Bilinski, area coordinator for Seneca and Ontario Halls, pointed out that this has always been the case in Putnam Hall where suites have a similar layout.

"I haven't really heard any complaints," she said. "Our need is not as great as some other buildings."

Bilinski noted that the biggest issue in residence halls occurs on the weekends, when it has become harder to find maintenance staff for emergency cleaning.

Stooks said that the impact is felt most by the staff, who are trying to pick up the slack. "The custodial staff on this campus takes great pride in their facilities and how they take care of the buildings," he said. "They are still trying to provide the same service with fewer numbers."

Joanne, who works as a custodian for Seneca and Ontario, says that her coworkers in Ontario have been helping one another out. "We work well as a team," she said. "But things are getting short. You have to wonder, where is this all headed?'"

Other than the aforementioned plan to hire three custodial workers, the remaining positions will not be filled until the budget situation is remedied.