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January 23, 2010

 

Committees to meet on administrator

Legislators will decide whether to change job description, how to advertise vacancy

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

A joint meeting of the Cortland County Budget and Finance Committee and Personnel Committee is set for Thursday to determine whether to change the job description of the county administrator and how to find candidates.
Committee members are hoping to have feedback from all legislators on how to proceed.
County Administrator Scott Schrader resigned Jan. 14. County Clerk Elizabeth Larkin had declared his seat vacant at the conclusion of the Jan. 6 Legislature reorganization meeting, citing Schrader’s failure to take his oath of office when he was reappointed in June.
Both committees met Thursday and discussed the position.
The joint meeting is set for 4 p.m. prior to next week’s Legislative session.
Legislature Chairman Jack Williams (D-8th Ward) is now interim administrator but he wants to move quickly to find a replacement.
“I understand people would like an interim,” Williams said at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting.
Williams said he wants legislators to share ideas about how to proceed and said he thinks a joint meeting will be a good forum for this.
Legislator Tony Pace (D-7th Ward), who chairs the Personnel Committee, said he has spoken with the New York State Association of Counties and was told the county could advertise the position on the organization’s Web site.
Pace was still unclear about the price of doing this, saying he received a $425 figure but was not sure if that was a solid rate or a fee applied regularly throughout the posting. Pace said once a job description is submitted to NYSAC, the organization will send information about the cost of posting.
Pace said the process of selecting a new administrator will be inclusive.
County legislators want to get input from all 19 legislators on the qualities they would like to see in a county administrator.
Legislators will review the local laws creating the position of administrator in 2002 and designating the administrator as budget officer in 2003.
Legislator John Troy (D-1st Ward) said he wants an administrator who would communicate regularly with the Legislature.
Troy thinks the administrator should give reports on the budget on a consistent basis.
“I would like to see that be a regular part of Legislative meetings each month. A comment on the problems that we are having with the budget and places where we look stronger,” Troy said.
Legislator Tom Hartnett (D-4th Ward) also wants to see a communicative administrator.
“I think he needs to be open to anybody and information should be given in a timely manner for us to make any kind of logical conclusions,” Hartnett said.
Hartnett said he thinks the legislators who created the administrator position in 2002 did a “really good job” on drafting the job qualifications, saying he would not want to change those.
Legislator Kathie Arnold (D-Cuyler, Solon and Truxton), who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee, said Thursday she had called Tompkins County Administrator Joe Mareane, who she said suggested an interim administrator would bring “stability” to the county during the transition period.
Arnold advocated forming a “broad-based” search committee that would include legislators, county employees, the Personnel Department and department heads.
Arnold said one possible suggestion she would make for the administrator job description would be to add wording that would require the administrator to prepare a tentative budget by a certain date set forth by the Legislature.
“That’d be something we’d need to talk about, whether we would need to put a specific time in there or not,” Arnold said.
Arnold said having this language would ensure the administrator would know well in advance that he is expected to have a tentative budget prepared by a certain date.
Cayuga County’s interim manager, Nick Mazza, said he would be willing to give “advice on the matter” if legislators wanted his input.
Mazza is serving a six-month term in Cayuga County, saying he is committed until the end of March. Mazza said he is helping the county search for a permanent candidate.
Mazza served as Cortland interim city administrator after the death of Andy Damiano in January.
He declined to comment on what his advice for Cortland County would be, saying that would be “presumptuous” since he does not know the circumstances that led up to the current situation.
“Usually the first administrator stays a short time or a long time. That is the trend,” Mazza said.

 

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