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Supervisors ponder personnel expenses

ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County supervisors are leaving the door open for two tentative salaried positions in the midst of strict limitations on county hiring.

A policy instituted by Essex County Manager Daniel Palmer requires county department heads to seek resolutions from the Board of Supervisors before including a request for new paid positions in their 2010 budget proposals.

The policy is designed to limit spending on personnel, one of the largest portions of the county's budget

Transportation coordinator Nancy Dougal brought a request to the Essex County Human Services committee Aug. 10 for the creation of a new account clerk position in the county's transportation department.

The position is necessary, she said, because the transportation department plans to start billing New York State directly for rides provided to Medicare patients for medical purposes. Currently the billing is done through the Department of Social Services where Dougal said the paperwork ends up changing hands several times.

Committee members were generally unenthusiastic about the proposal, questioning why it was necessary to add a position for a task that was already being done.

"This could very well be a case where hiring an accounting clerk is going to save money," said Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston, "but it's a little cloudy at this point."

The resolution to consider the added position passed, but many committee members expressed hesitation with the idea of ultimately including it in the 2010 budget.

In the Economic Development Committee, a similar discussion arose regarding a proposal to retain Barbara Brassard as Empire Zone coordinator amidst an anticipated loss of state funding for administration of the program in 2010.

Currently, Essex County budgets $40,000 with another $23,000 coming from the state. Committee members mulled a resolution that would add $10,000 in county funds to the program to offset that $23,000 disappearing.

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