December 15, 2010


County merges mental health positions

Restructuring would eliminate the director of administrative services’ job

Staff Reporter

Cortland County legislators will vote Thursday on a move that merges two positions in Mental Health Department, eliminating the job of Director of Administrative Services Michael Kilmer.
Legislators will vote to hire Mark Thayer as the new community services director.
Thayer will be paid $78,500 and replace the interim part-time director, Paul LaBlanc.
LaBlanc worked 15 hours a week at an hourly rate of $47.65.
The job will merge the community services director and director of administrative services positions.
The hiring is part of a restructuring in the county mental health program.
Kilmer, hired by the county in June 2006, was also a candidate for the position and supported by LaBlanc and staff psychiatrist Jason Stepkovitch.
Kilmer declined to comment this morning. His budgeted salary for 2011 is $55,527.
Thayer is director of children and family services for a nonprofit agency in Onondaga County. Prior to that he worked as a case worker for 14 years in Onondaga County.
LaBlanc will stay for up to two months to help with the transition. A start date is not yet set for Thayer.
The Community Services Board Tuesday unanimously recommended Thayer, saying he was the most qualified candidate.
The Health Committee voted to create the position earlier that day.
The committee voted before the Community Services Board’s recommendation and did not identify the candidate.
LaBlanc was hired in June to serve until a permanent replacement was found.
The community services director is the chief executive officer of the Community Services Board, which sets up the county services for mentally retarded, developmentally disabled and chemically dependent individuals in the county.
Some legislators have aired concerns in the past about merging the two positions.
Legislator Sandy Price (D-Harford and Virgil) is opposed to blending the jobs and voted against the move at the Health Committee meeting Tuesday.
Price is concerned about a conflict in the combined jobs.
“The director of community services directs all the services in the community,” Price said. “The director of the clinic directs the clinic. It’s hard, no matter who it is, to be impartial when recommending services.”
Price said the committee’s recommendation of Thayer disregarded the recommendation from LaBlanc and staff psychiatrist Jason Stepkovitch.
An interview committee comprised of legislators and Community Services Board members interviewed four candidates out of a pool of 12 applicants.
Thayer says he looks forward to collaborating across community agencies to create services that best meet client needs.
Coordination is key, Thayer said.
“Instead of a person who needs three separate services (getting) three separate assessments, you work together to create one consistent plan that takes into account what’s important for the person,” Thayer said.
In his role Thayer said he will identify shared needs and goals and work collaboratively on them with all the agencies.
Legislator Tony Pace (D-7th Ward) sits on the community services board and sat on the interview committee.
Pace said he was impressed by Thayer’s communication and problem solving skills and management style.
“What really jumped out was his emotional intelligence. He would take a problem and calmly analyze it and ... take it to the next level of what agencies in the community would solve the problem, what would be the best use of staff ...,” Pace said.


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