WATERLOO — Seneca County is one step closer to adding a deputy county manager.

The Board of Supervisors’ government operations committee voted 4-1 Tuesday to support the new position. The full board could approve the motion at its April 12 meeting.

Cindy Lorenzetti, D-Fayette; Lee Davidson, R-Lodi; Paul Kronenwetter, R-Seneca Falls; and Don Trout, R-Waterloo, voted yes. Steve Churchill, D-Seneca Falls, was opposed.

The resolution states that if the county creates a finance department, the deputy county manager would become its director.

County Manager John Sheppard, who introduced the motion, wants to create the finance department when county Treasurer Nick Sciotti and up to four employees in the treasurer’s office retire later this year.

The board would appoint the deputy county manager based on Sheppard’s recommendation. The position would be advertised.

If the finance department is organized, the position would be abolished.

Davidson asked Sheppard what he thought the pay should be for deputy county manager.

“I would say $90,000 will help us get the best person,” Sheppard replied. “I have a person in mind, but it would be a board appointment.”

He said the money to pay for the position would come from a proposed change in the county treasurer’s position once Sciotti retires. Sheppard explained that Sciotti’s $82,000 salary could be reduced to $30,000 and the job made part time. The finance director would assume many of Sciotti’s current duties, Sheppard added.

Sheppard said there are 23 employees in fiscal positions within the county’s various departments right now. He proposed moving those people out of those departments into the new finance department, and downsizing to 21 employees. The salaries saved by eliminating two positions would go to the new position.

Churchill asked if that reorganization could be done under the guise of a full-time, elected county treasurer. Sheppard replied that it could, but didn’t want to take the chance of an elected treasurer possessing the knowledge and skills Sciotti has.

“I support the concept,” Sciotti told the committee. “It guarantees a trained fiscal person at the top. An elected treasurer gives you no such guarantee. It also provides a degree of continuity.”

“This is a lot to process in a few weeks,” Greg Lazzaro, R-Seneca Falls, said. “We’re jumping into something that is unknown. I think we should ratchet back and take a good, hard look at this.”

While saying a $90,000 salary for a new department head may be fair, Lazzaro believed that salary would “tend to grow” in the future.

“We didn’t have a county manager for a long time,” Lazzaro said. “Let’s take our time to look at this before we decide. Reducing by two employees looks good, but we need to process the impact of that.

“I can’t accept this proposal at this time.”

Bob Shipley, R-Waterloo, disagreed with Lazzaro, saying the county is facing a “fiscal crisis” created by all the retirements. Shipley is worried about del Lago Resort & Casino revenues being handled properly.

“It would be good to get more financially capable people on board before Nick leaves,” Shipley said.

“I can’t see us waiting,” added Walt Prouty, R-Ovid. “If we do, things can fall apart.”

“We are considering only one proposal,” Churchill argued. “There may be others. I don’t support moving on this.”

Like Lazzaro, Churchill said he wanted more time to consider the changes. He suggested holding more workshops.

Following discussion about scheduling a work session, the resolution to create the position of deputy county manager was moved and received a second.

“I don’t see the urgency,” Lazzaro reiterated. “We’re moving too fast. I suggest tabling it for the April committee meeting, giving us a full month to ask questions.”

Churchill’s motion to table did not receive a second.

Government operations followed by approving the creation of a deputy county manager.

Two other Sheppard-supported motions related to creation of a finance department were tabled. One would make the county treasurer’s position part time with a salary of $30,000 and no fringe benefits, while the other is a local law creating the finance department.

The latter would be subject to a mandatory referendum this fall.

Trending Food Videos

Recommended for you