NORWICH – Two minority party supervisors made a handful of unsuccessful attempts Wednesday to amend portions of the 2007 Chenango County budget.
At a meeting of the full Board of Supervisors to formally adopt the $76.4 spending plan, Supervisor Peter C. Flanagan, D-Preston, made a motion to cut four newly-created social worker positions. He said he was not opposed to the New York State Office of Mental Health-funded program that called for the additional staff, just to the positions.
The proposed budget contains 13 new county positions.
“For years we’ve tried to limit the size of county government. It seems that we are creeping back upwards. Why can’t we contract with an outside agency and reduce our employee benefit obligations?” he asked.
The Preston supervisor pointed to what he said was a 35 percent increase in employee benefit and retirement costs within the last four years, saying they “won’t be getting any cheaper.”
The original proposal to add the four positions was met with considerable scrutiny within at least three different standing committees over the course of the fourth quarter this year. Chairman of the Board Richard B. Decker (R-North Norwich) became involved and actually once tabled the item on the Finance Committee’s agenda. In the interim, lawmakers attempted to contract with Catholic Charities of Chenango County before learning that only a state-licensed mental health clinic could offer it. The county’s Mental Health Clinic is so licensed.
“What we need to do is see that Catholic Charities makes application with this board for certification,” Dennis Brown, D-Pharsalia, said. Brown has voiced his opposition to the new employees and the program on several occasions.