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November 14, 2013

Delaware board eyes 2014 budget tweaks

By Cheryl Petersen Contributing writer
The Daily Star

---- — DELHI — A protracted discussion on the 2014 budget, in regard to placement for Social Service investigators, did not stall the Delaware County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday. Though not unanimous, it voted to approve and move forward the tentative plan. A public hearing for the preliminary budget will be held Nov. 26 at 12:30 p.m. at 11 Main Street in Delhi. 

As for the 2014 budget, “Alterations and modifications will still be made,” said Wayne Marshfield, town of Hamden supervisor. “For instance, we just found out this morning that New York state is increasing the amount the county is expected to pay to reimburse costs incurred to community colleges. The county budgeted $625,000 for the community college fund and now will be expected to pay approximately another $20,000.”

The budget reflected accounting system modifications for more transparency. Sales tax received by the Department of Public Works will now be directly deposited into the general fund and then dispersed to Public Works.

When it came to Department placement for the Social Service investigators, the board struggled for clarity on the most cost-effective, yet least vulnerable to liability, route. While working on the 2014 budget, the Finance Committee slotted the four Social Services investigators under the district attorney. However, the Legislative Committee and Public Safety Committee previously voted that down.

“While researching for insurance coverage for the investigators, risk consultants informed us the investigators should be trained through the accredited Sheriff’s Department,” said Steven Brower, town of Kortright supervisor. Recommendation was made to move the investigators under the umbrella of the Sheriff’s Office.

The recommendation was overruled by the Finance Committee.

“Costs will escalate under the sheriff’s model,” said Bruce Dolph, Walton town supervisor and county budget director. “Therefore, the 2014 budget keeps the investigators under the district attorney.

Social Services Commissioner Bill Moon commented: “Moving the investigators to the Sheriff’s Department would hinder reimbursements to the program because Social Services can’t be reimbursed for deputy duties.”

County District Attorney Dick Northrup said: “We have no factual basis for liability concerns if investigators are kept under the district attorney.”

Also on the docket, the board moved to authorize the Public Works Department to award the lowest bidders for construction of a new material recovery facility at the county landfill in the town of Walton. The $7.6 million landfill project is funded in part by grants and other sources.

“Ground can be broken right away with the board’s approval,” said Sue McIntyre, solid waste director. “The project is expected to be completed in the summer or fall of 2014.”

Salary increases for 10 county employees were approved.

A resolution supporting establishment of a southern tier office of Department of Mental Health was passed.

“The New York State Office of Mental Health is proposing a major redesign that includes closing two nearby inpatient services at the Elmira Psychiatric Center and Greater Binghamton Health Center by July 2014,” said Cindy Heaney, director of mental health. “The closures make access to critical care difficult. Hopefully, this resolution will bring attention to the need for mental health services in rural areas.”