Northern New York Newspapers
Watertown
Ogdensburg
Massena-Potsdam
Lowville
Carthage
Malone
NNY Business
NNY Living
NNY Ads
Sat., Dec. 20
SUBSCRIBE
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
Related Stories

St. Lawrence County legislators cut two positions

PREV
NEXT
ARTICLE OPTIONS
A A
print this article
e-mail this article

CANTON — St. Lawrence County officials are trying to streamline government while still providing essential services.

Legislators on Monday approved hiring three laborers to fill vacant positions and authorized a reorganization in the Department of Social Services that comes with a net loss of two positions.

In both cases, department heads said they needed staff to complete work. The county has eliminated 103 positions over the last three years.

“I don’t have enough people,” Highway Superintendent Toby W. Bogart said. “I know I definitely need laborers.”

Mr. Bogart convinced lawmakers to fill the positions, which are already part of this year’s budget. The department had 17 laborers from 2007 to 2010, 15 in 2011 and has 11 this year, including the open positions. Without the laborers, employees in higher pay grades will act as flaggers, Mr. Bogart said. The county is also behind on mowing the roadside of some of its 580 miles.

Only a handful of towns contract with the county to mow its roads. Some have scaled back personnel in their own departments and cannot take on additional work, Mr. Bogart said.

Others, such as Gouverneur, do not have larger equipment and would have to make double passes, Legislator Donald A. Peck, D-Gouverneur, said.

Mowing the roadsides is a safety issue and bridges need to be washed so they last longer, Legislator Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, said.

Legislator Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, questioned whether the department was top-heavy at the mid-level.

“Are we not taking the opportunity to balance things out?” he asked.

Some legislators did not like the idea of hiring if the county’s budget situation for next year requires layoffs.

However, Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire said the Highway Department would likely not be a target.

“We have significantly cut the Highway Department,” she said. “I think we’d look other places first.”

Ultimately, legislators decided the department had work that needed to be done.

“We’re not creating new positions,” Legislator Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, said. “We do need to maintain our roads.”

In Social Services, legislators reorganized jobs that handle benefits, employment counseling, and accounting, losing two positions.

“We have seen the desire of the board,” Commissioner Christopher R. Rediehs said. “We are challenged, but it allows us to function in a way I think will work.”

The county had considered moving Youth Director Joanne Sevick into an employment counselor position in Social Services and eliminating the Youth Department. However, it discovered that with more than 25,000 youths, the county was required to have a youth director with that title if it wanted to keep its eligibility for $134,000 that is funneled to various county groups, Ms. St. Hilaire said.

Commenting rules:
  1. Stick to the topic of the article/letter/editorial.
  2. When responding to issues raised by other commenters, do not engage in personal attacks or name-calling.
  3. Comments that include profanity/obscenities or are libelous in nature will be removed without warning.
Violators' commenting privileges may be revoked indefinitely. By commenting you agree to our full Terms of Use.
Giveaway
Syracuse Football Tickets Giveaway
Connect with Us
DCO on FacebookWDT on Twitter