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SC Board can’t agree on finance department; another workshop to be held on April 23rd

After two hours of debate, an executive session for another committee, and plenty of feedback from the few in attendance — the decision for the government operations committee was clear:It’s too soon to act.The committee agreed that consolidating to form a finance department could be beneficial. Many found the speed at which the consolidation was being pushed through problematic. Seneca Falls Supervisor Stephen Churchill, while generally disagreeing with the concept in it’s current form — with so many unanswered questions — said, “It sounds like nobody really knows the answers.”Whether concerns were being voiced about checks-and-balances, or simple matters of execution — physically and legally — most committee members were concerned. Fayette Town Supervisor Cindy Garlick-Lorenzetti, who chairs the government operations committee said near the end of the proceedings, “Now there are questions to answer before we move forward.” This prompted a commitment form members of the committee to table this resolution, which would move on creating this department on Tuesday.She explained that the next move for the committee would be to hold another workshop, which could take into account a number of factors that could not be considered on Saturday. Issues like legality, input from current Seneca County administrators and employees, as well as addressing some questions that board members will collect over the next two weeks.Board members were concerned about the real savings of the plan, how the plan would be executed, what controls would exist to ensure tangible oversight, as well as many other concerns stemming around the perceived benefits against the actual benefits.Many of the board members asked for greater input from key individuals like the board’s attorney, the sitting treasurer, as well as current department heads and crucial personnel who would be most-significantly impacted by the reorganization. The next workshop will be held on Saturday, April 23rd at 9 am in the Seneca County Board of Supervisors room, on the third floor of the Seneca County building at 1 Dipronio Drive. It will be open to the public.The background on the creation of a finance department is something that has been in the works since the beginning of the year. Ask County Manager John Sheppard, and he will tell you it is something that he has been working on since he learned about the staffing crisis Seneca County is facing.The workshop on Saturday highlighted the breakdown of powers and authority, which would be shared by the treasurer, as well as a deputy county manager. The creation of a deputy county manager would allow that individual to oversee the finance department, allowing for greater organization and smoother operation.Sheppard explained again to the Board of Supervisors that with three known retirements within the treasurer’s office, and seven others retirement eligible employees — meant an “existing crisis, not a pending one.” A discrepancy that he and the board could not come to terms on. He continued, explaining during the workshop that essential tasks should be centralized across the county. This would allow for more effective oversight at the county administration level.One concern those in attendance had was the potential loss of employees. Sheppard’s plan calls for the overall reduction of finance related staff from 23 to 21 employees. While four of these individuals are management level within the current organizational system, the others are employees, which would be shuffled around to create the finance department — filling various roles.One role being greatly reduced would be the treasurer’s position. As outgoing Seneca County Treasurer Nick Sciotti is replaced, the new system would reduce the overall responsibilities of that person to just a handful of tasks.The original plan proposed by Sheppard asked for the County to consider moving the treasurer’s job to a part-time position. While that would require a referendum vote in the fall. However, the new plan would maintain the treasurer’s position as a full-time job. The prospective savings associated with this reorganization in payroll terms would be just shy of $13,000 per year, according to Sheppard.While some in attendance questioned when Sciotti would actually be retiring — a tentative end date in October was confirmed by Sheppard as well. The board members also asked to get Sciotti’s feedback at the next workshop, scheduled on the 23rd.FingerLakes1.com will have more at the next workshop, scheduled on April 23rd.

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