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November 8, 2012

Otsego clerk threatens to cease services

With cash-strapped Otsego County considering layoffs in several agencies, county Clerk Kathy Sinnott-Gardner said her office will cease processing passport applications and stop issuing veterans’ identification cards if it is stripped of any positions.

Sinnott-Gardner, agitated by the possible reductions in the county workforce, said that if the Board of Representatives takes even a single job from the clerk’s office, she will have to cut the amount of revenue she generates by $200,000.

“They are making themselves look good while they are hurting all the departments in the county,” Sinnott-Gardner said. Arguing the cuts being discussed by the board will cause further deterioration in the county’s finances, she said. “They are going to take two steps forward and three steps backwards. It will be ridiculous.”

In addition to being the county’s keeper of records, Sinnott-Gardner oversees the county’s two Department of Motor Vehicle offices, one in Oneonta and the other in Cooperstown. A third office in Cooperstown files and stores records relating to mortgages, leases, easements, civil documents and court papers.

All told, Sinnott-Gardner said, she has 13 employees. An independently elected official, Sinnott-Gardner said she has projected that the office’s personal services costs next year will amount to $435,883, while she estimated that total revenues for the year will be approximately $825,000.

“Where is the logic in putting people out of work?” she said. She suggested that the board consider a moderate increase in the property tax before making decisions that would curb services and inconvenience the public. She also suggested that county lawmakers spend more time defending county finances by fighting state officials for more relief from state-mandated programs.

At a meeting earlier, members of the board’s administration and Otsego Manor committees went over the county’s financial picture with county Treasurer Dan Crowell.

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