September 2, 2010


Breaking News

Former SUNY Cortland lecturer Daniel DePerno pleaded guilty Thursday to three of 33 sex charges involving a minor. See coverage in Friday's Cortland Standard.


Voters to decide 4-year admin term

Nov. ballot will include measure to set county administrator term longer than legislators’

Staff Reporter

Voters in Cortland County will be asked in November to approve a four-year term for the county administrator, after county legislators passed a new local law by a 15-4 vote Wednesday.
A special Legislative session was held to vote on the local law that sets a four-year term.
Legislators Susan Briggs (R-Cortlandville), Amy Cobb (D-3rd Ward), Don Spaulding (D-6th Ward) and John Troy (D-1st Ward) were absent so their votes counted against the proposal.
The law will appear on the ballot in November. Without a referendum vote to pass the law, the term cannot exceed the two-year term of the Legislature, according to County Attorney Ed Purser.
County Administrator Martin Murphy’s term expires at the end of 2011.
Scott Schrader, the first county administrator, served four-year terms but Purser never signed his contract last year because he did not think it was legal to encumber the Legislature.
Purser said after the meeting if the voters approve the term change, the Legislature can then legally set the term longer than those of legislators, something that officials have found desirable because it offers more job stability than a two-year term.
“The laws indicate you can’t extend beyond the term of the Legislature unless there is a local law authorizing it subject to a referendum,” Purser said.
Purser said the Cortland County Board of Elections will be given a copy of the resolution and then the necessary work will be done to put it on the ballot for the Nov. 2 general election. If it passes, it will be submitted to the State Department of State and become part of local law, he said.
Legislator Tony Pace (D-7th Ward) said voters should know that approving the term change does not bind the Legislature to an administrator that it is not pleased with. The Legislature has the authority to fire an administrator at any point in his or her term, he said.
“A four-year contract allows a certain amount of stability,” Pace said, adding a longer term prevents the problems of high turnover, such as frequently having to bring a new administrator up to speed.
Pace also thinks a four-year term will draw higher quality candidates.
“It projects a stronger image, more job security with the position,” Pace said.
Pace said if voters do not approve the change, the county will “stay with what we have and do the best we can.”
Cortland County created the position of county administrator in 2002.
In 2003, the law was amended to allow the administrator to be appointed by the Legislature for a term not to exceed four years, but the measure did not pass by referendum so when Murphy was hired earlier this year his term was set to run concurrently with the sitting Legislature.
Legislator Danny Ross (R-Cortlandville) said he does not know if voters will pass the measure. He cited a failed 2002 vote that would have given legislators a four-year term.
But Ross said he is glad the law is going to be voted on by the public.
“It is good to put it out to the voters to vote on instead of just the 19 legislators,” Ross said.


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