By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO With unpaid vendors watching, legislators at Thursday’s Personnel Committee meeting agreed to add a full-time clerk to the county’s Office of Audit and Control.
They hope to reduce what has been as much as a five-month delay in paying private companies which provide services to the county, along with reimbursing county employees for travel expenses.
“It’s the county’s obligation to pay their claims on a timely basis,” acknowledged County Auditor Angela Chevalier, who’s been working up to 20 hours a day at the office and at home to process enormous piles of unpaid bills.
“We are on a seven-week lag [on average],” she told legislators. “That is unacceptable to me.”
It proved unacceptable to legislators, as well, who apologized to struggling service providers who had come to plead for quicker payments.
Some vendors said they couldn’t meet their payroll, while others said they couldn’t even meet their personal obligations due to the county’s past-due payments.
“That cannot happen,” affirmed Legislator Kathy LaBuda. “I apologize.”
Assuming the full Legislature also agrees this Thursday, the new hire will become the fifth member of the Office of Audit and Control, which verifies that the county’s financial transactions are accurate and justified.
He/she will be paid $25,373 (rising to $26,708 in six months) but will have to contribute 15 percent to the county’s cost of providing health insurance.
East Broadway redo
The county route which leads from Monticello’s downtown to the Apollo, commonly known as East Broadway, may be the next major highway project.
Planning Commissioner Luiz Aragon got the Capital Planning Committee to agree to let him apply for a federal “Tiger” grant that would, if granted, add $10 million to the existing $2.5 million the state has set aside to rehab East Broadway’s two miles between the village center and the redone Exit 106 interchange with Route 17.
The project has been in the works for the past decade, said Public Works Commissioner Bob Meyer. The county should know later this year if it won the grant and, if so, would have to start reconstruction by next summer.
Health and Family Services Committee members agreed Thursday to ban tobacco use at the county’s two playgrounds near Stone Arch Bridge in Kenoza Lake and Lake Superior in Bethel.
“It’s an awareness and education piece,” explained Public Health Nursing Director Carol Ryan.
A public hearing will be held at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday, April 26 at the Government Center in Monticello, prior to official adoption of the ban.
An indoor flood
A burst pipe dumped enough water to flood the Shared Clinic building at the county’s Social Services complex in Liberty last week, forcing a temporary relocation.
About an inch of water soaked the carpets, but Division of Public Works personnel came to the rescue and had the offices dried out by the end of the week, earning Ryan’s thanks.