The chairman of the Oak Bluffs selectmen said yesterday that the two members of the town wastewater commission who moved late last week to eliminate plant superintendent Joseph Alosso’s position had no authority to make such a decision.

“I did some investigation and learned the board of selectmen is the appointing authority [for Mr. Alosso],” selectman Kathy Burton told the Gazette yesterday. “The wastewater commission can make recommendations to the board of selectmen, but they don’t have the authority to eliminate the position.”

At a Jan. 26 meeting, acting under an agenda item labeled policy and budget analysis, wastewater commission chairman Hans von Steiger and fellow commissioner Gail Barmakian voted to do away with Mr. Alosso’s position, effective at the end of February. According to draft minutes of the meeting, the vote was initiated by Ms. Barmakian. “I am looking at ways to cut the budget and I have been thinking about this for a year and a half,” she said.

The vote came over the strenuous objection of Robert Iadicicco, the third member of the wastewater commission. “I think you are all out of your minds,” Mr. Iadicicco said.

Mr. Alosso has been superintendent of the town wastewater plant since 2000, when the plant was first built. He attended the Friday meeting of the wastewater commission, and minutes show he expressed surprise when Ms. Barmakian raised the prospect of eliminating his position. “I wasn’t told this was a discussion that was going to be on the agenda,” Mr. Alosso told commissioners. “I am quite proud of everything I have done over 10 years . . . But again, I can’t function properly if this board isn’t 100 per cent behind me.”

Reached last Saturday following the decision, Ms. Barmakian said the town needs to cut costs and she preferred not to raise rates for wastewater users. “It wasn’t a performance-based decision. It was really a financial decision,” Ms. Barmakian said. She said research into other plants showed that some towns combine the roles of manager and chief operator, and that those functions could easily be handled in Oak Bluffs by plant operator Jim Montieth and other staff.

Eliminating the position would save the town between $68,000 and $70,000 a year, Ms. Barmakian said.

But in a telephone conversation early this week, Mr. Iadicicco bluntly criticized the actions of his fellow commissioners and defended Mr. Alosso as a town employee. “They’ve done nothing but dog the guy . . . he’s been an outstanding plant manager,” he said. Mr. Iadicicco praised Mr. Alosso’s work at the plant, noting that he has served on several committees and overseen upgrades to plant services. He said there was little discussion at the meeting, and claimed he was not given a chance to cast a dissenting vote.“I never even got to vote. Obviously I was against it — but they never asked,” he said.

“The whole thing was bogus,” Mr. Iadicicco continued, questioning why the commission decided to eliminate Mr. Alosso’s position and not a more junior position.

“If you just want to reduce personnel costs, you get rid of the most junior person, you don’t get rid of the top guy,” he said.

Mr. Iadicicco also said he had concerns about a private conversation between Mr. von Steiger and Ms. Barmakian before the meeting, noting that any discussion about the matter outside the meeting would have violated the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law.

Mr. von Steiger said he and Ms. Barmakian were not discussing the decision to eliminate Mr. Alosso’s position.

“We thought it was appropriate to do what we did,” Mr. von Steiger said. He said the plant had excess personnel, and “that in our reading, we do have the right [to eliminate personnel].”

He added: “We carefully thought about it.”

The action by the two members of the Oak Bluffs wastewater commission came four days before the release of a report by an independent investigator into record keeping irregularities at the Edgartown wastewater treatment plant, where Mr. Alosso is also the longtime superintendent.

On Tuesday this week Mr. Alosso was placed on paid administrative leave from that position.

Meanwhile, in Oak Bluffs Ms. Burton said yesterday that he still has a job.

“To be continued,” she said.