Panel shapes plans for business office

Frazier

 Otsego County took the first step toward approving a dedicated business office Thursday, Oct. 22, when the idea was passed unanimously by the county’s Administration Committee.

The committee also approved two administrative aide positions for the office and abolished two vacant positions to make the proposal budget-neutral.

The meeting was held via Zoom and broadcast on the county’s Facebook page. The creation of the office and the personnel changes must still be approved by the full Board of Representatives at its meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, also via Zoom and broadcast on Facebook.

Information Technology Director Brian Pokorny gave the committee a presentation Thursday on the timetable for setting up the business office, which will consolidate all the county’s “back office” tasks.

Moving ahead with the plan and hiring one administrative aide by dissolving a vacant position in the IT Department were all unanimously approved by the committee.

However, the plan to dissolve a Planning Department office specialist position and replace it with the second aide position had two no votes, Rep. Ed Frazier Jr., R-Unadilla, and Rep. Keith McCarty, R-Richfield, Springfield.

Planning Department Assistant Director Erik Scrivener also expressed concern about the plan.

He said his office has gone from five people to two over the past year, with two retirements and one person on family leave, and he had hoped the committee would instead refill the vacant office specialist position.

The position could be shared with the Veteran’s Department and Emergency Services, he said.

The office specialist position is two grades higher than an aide, Scrivener said, and can have several additional job duties.

Sid Loeffler, the acting department head in the Veterans Service Agency, said he also needed help. The county has gone from three veterans service officers to one in the past year and administrative work has increased during that same time because of the pandemic, he said.

However, the committee did ultimately vote, 4-2, to dissolve the Planning Department position in favor of the aide.

The business office is projected to open in January, Pokorny said. It will be at 197 Main St. in Cooperstown, next to the IT Department, in space that used to be E-911’s backup office.

The space will be cleaned out by Pokorny and “freshened up” by building services and furnished with surplus equipment in anticipation of a January opening.

Once the positions are filled, and until the business office opens, one aide will work in IT and the other in Planning, with both learning the tasks they will bring with them to the business office next year.

The business office will report to IT until a county administrator is hired, according to Pokorny’s plan.

The administrator position was approved in 2019, but left unfilled in 2020 after the pandemic forced a hiring freeze. Otsego County Treasurer Allen Ruffles said Wednesday, Oct. 21, that the position is funded in the most recent draft of the 2021 budget.

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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