By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star
---- — COOPERSTOWN — A request from an Otsego County agency supervisor to occasionally work from home on a “flex schedule” drew a chilly response Tuesday from a key panel of county lawmakers.
While some counties have allowed pilot projects to evaluate flexible working hours, the majority of the administration committee of the Board of Representatives indicated it wasn’t ready to embrace the concept, at least as the proposal was packaged by Probation Director Kristen Leahy.
On Tuesday, Leahy appeared before the committee, suggesting that a flexible schedule would increase her productivity and make her more efficient, as well as more available to work during non-traditional hours.
Her request came on the heels of another proposal she pitched in late January, when she asked to be allowed to work a four-day week, with longer hours each day. With that request, the $48,500-a-year supervisor focused on her personal situation, stressing that she has not received a raise since she was hired in late 2007. Leahy, a resident of Delaware County, noted then she must spend more to commute to her job in Cooperstown due to higher gasoline prices and must pay more for groceries and child care.
Rep. Betty Ann Schwerd, R-Burlington, argued that if Leahy’s request was approved, it would have a domino effect, with other county workers seeking the same flexibility in their schedules.
Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, voiced concern that the request, if granted, would create problems for the county board. “We cant possibly do this for everybody so I don’t see how we can possibly do this for Kristen,” he said.
Rep. Edwin Frazier Jr., R-Unadilla, said while he agreed the board should consider helping managers who have gone without raises, Leahy’s contention that a flex schedule would benefit her agency was colored by her earlier claims highlighting her personal situation.
More sympathetic to Leahy’s rationale for flex time were Reps. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, and Rich Murphy, D-town of Oneonta. Both said they were willing to allow a six-month trial run for flex time. But the three Republicans were in unison in rejecting the idea.
On another front, the administration committee heard a pitch from Kevin Ritton, the county’s director of emergency services, to enhance security at the Meadows office complex by installing a walk-through metal detector in which all visitors would be screened.
Currently, a security worker checks visitors with a metal-detecting wand, but only if they indicate they are headed to certain offices in the building, Ritton said.
Ritton said he was concerned about the safety of county workers in the building because on occasion “disgruntled” people have wandered into offices where they have no business.
Said Schwerd: “If we can do this without additional cost, I think it’s a great idea.”
Committee members suggested he discuss the idea with the acting social services commissioner, Eve Bouboulis, to further refine the plan.