County tables mental health new hires

NORWICH – Acting on an executive-level request, supervisors responsible for overseeing the financial side of Chenango County’s government tabled a discussion Wednesday about adding four new positions in next year’s projected $3.8 million Mental Health department budget.

The positions have already earned favor in two committees so far, despite meeting with controversy on two previous occasions within the Finance Committee. Three new clinicians and one clerical worker are necessary, according to the department’s director, to offer a fully-funded New York State Department of Mental Health program called Child & Family Clinic Plus. A DOM study found the state’s counties lacking in providing mental health services to youths.

Financial leaders have questioned whether the additional jobs are needed, and whether adding staff would or would not end up costing taxpayers should the DOM drop the program in the future.

Committee Chairman Lawrence N. Wilcox, R-Oxford, said Board Chairman Richard B. Decker, R-North Norwich, asked him to direct a review of the budget Wednesday morning without the additional positions. Since county Treasurer William E. Evans had not received the same directive, the positions were included within the documents prepared and distributed to members of the committee.

Department Director Mary Ann Spryn said she was briefed of the change just prior to attending the meeting, and suggested an executive session to discuss the matter. After questions concerning the legality of an executive session arose, however, Supervisor Richard Schlag, D-German, asked for consultation from the county’s attorney to determine if one were warranted. The county’s attorney elected not to rule on the matter, and Wilcox instead entertained a motion to table the budget until the Oct. 13 meeting.

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