Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
April 12, 2013 Issue
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Family Services 'overwhelmed'

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — January 29 — Deputy Commissioner David Sager warned legislators on Thursday that the Dept. of Family Services is being overwhelmed with clients.
“We are in such desperate need for a second security guard for the Travis Building,” he said, referring to the oft-crowded public lobby of the main structure at the Liberty social services complex.
“There’s no place in this county that’s more busy or hostile than the Travis Building,” he insisted. “... It is dangerous.”
That was during the morning’s Public Safety Committee meeting. By afternoon, Sager had returned to the Executive Committee to reiterate a point he and Commissioner Randy Parker had made the prior week.
“We are so below ... safe staffing levels,” he said.
But legislators had expected him and Parker (who was away) to arrive with a priority list for filling upwards of three dozen vacancies.
Though all those vacancies are budgeted for, legislators have been approving vacancies in stages.
Sager didn’t have that list but focused on 15 of those vacancies, calling them “extremely urgent and necessary.”
Public Health Nursing Director Carol Ryan and Dept. of Community Services Director Joe Todora also campaigned for their vacancies.
“We have people sitting in the WIC [Women, Infants and Children] waiting room for hours,” said Ryan. “It’s just nuts!”
However, legislators had already set up a meeting to discuss what Cora Edwards called a more cohesive, comprehensive policy addressing vacancy-filling across county government.
Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson said he’d put it on the agenda for that meeting, scheduled for this Thursday at 9 a.m. – though it already seems likely Sager will get his request.
“Those vacancies should be filled,” Samuelson affirmed. “... We need to start putting people in those positions so work can get done.”
Ryan agreed that the current situation has “hamstrung” a county already near the bottom of state health rankings.
“We should instead be building up, because if you have a healthy community, you have a healthy economy,” she urged.
Police report due
The Law Enforcement Review Panel’s much-awaited report on finding cost-efficiencies with local police services has been delayed once again.
Legislators unanimously approved extending the report’s deadline to this Thursday, January 31.
Toski is the one
Following up on a controversy involving a prior vote, legislators unanimously named Toski and Co. as the county’s new auditor on Thursday.
They’ll replace the previous auditor due to a lower cost, not dissatisfaction, said officials.
Haulers get reprieve
With Alan Sorensen and Kitty Vetter opposed, legislators approved allowing three waste haulers to exceed the $25,000 limit on their individual debts to the county.
County officials fear they’d lose the haulers to neighboring counties if they were too strict on the amounts owed.
But the resolution approved Thursday also stipulates that legislators review the overall policy “so that the staff will have clear direction.”
Bonding approved for Care Center
With only Legislator Cora Edwards dissenting, the Legislature agreed to bond $1.13 million towards the renovation of the Adult Care Center in Liberty.
Edwards said she was opposed to borrowing with a bond to fulfill a state grant.
Sales tax money up
With final numbers nearly fully tallied, it appears Sullivan County eked out a gain in sales tax revenue this past year.
Despite the ongoing drag of the recession, the county reaped $1.1 million more in sales taxes for 2012 than it did in 2011, said Deputy Treasurer Nancy Buck.
Still, mortgage tax revenues fell by more than $14,000, and room taxes declined by $8,000.
Luiz Aragon leaving
Planning Commissioner Luiz Aragon has been hired as the City of New Rochelle’s development director and will resign from Sullivan County’s employ on February 8.
Coming from a varied career that included top posts in New York City, the Barryville resident has been with the county for more than three years.
“During this time, I have had Luiz embark on several initiatives including an Economic Development Charrette, an Agricultural Summit, grants for main streets, and an in-progress economic development master plan,” County Manager David Fanslau said. “I have been happy having Luiz be part of my management team, moving the county’s initiatives forward with me.”
Samuelson said he is sorry to see Aragon go but wishes him well.
Aragon, who also runs an art gallery in his hometown, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Legislators will choose a successor.

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