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Schuyler will trim Office for the Aging

SCHUYLER COUNTY—Schuyler County is cutting staffin its Office for the Aging following a study showing that the agency had too many levels of management.
The county legislature Monday (Aug. 10) voted to:
• Abolish the job of one of two aging services caseworkers.
• Eliminate the post of assistant director and replace it with an administrative assistant.
The changes at the agency were recommended by its director, Tammy Waite, and by County Administrator Timothy O’Hearn.
A review of the office showed the two caseworkers had a smaller total caseload than a single caseworker in some other counties.  O’Hearn said the county will also leave vacant a position on the agency’s nutrition staff.
“With the economic climate being what it is, we took the opportunity to cut back,” he said.
He declined to estimate how much money personnel actions will save the county. Some of the savings will be put back into programs, he said.
“The majority of funding was going to personnel rather than programs,” O’Hearn said.
The legislature also approved cutting the hours of the medical social worker in the Public Health and Community Services Department from 35 to 17 and a half per week at the employee’s request.
“It’s going to be do more with less,” O’Hearn said.
Legislator Dennis Fagan said the county should continue to evaluate positions in other departments to determine if they are being under-utilized.
O’Hearn said the county continuously reviews performance measures and output in order to align staffing levels with services.
In other action, the legislators approved raising the salary ranges for management employees by 2.4 percent—the increase in the federal cost-of-living index —effective Jan. 1.
O’Hearn said that does not guarantee a 2.4 percent pay hike for employees.
“It’s still contingent on budgets,” he said. “The legislature could increase it or decrease it.”
He said the 2.4 percent is the smallest cost-of-living adjustment in the five years he has served as county administrator.
“Last year it was 3.6 percent,” O’Hearn said.
With the increase, the lowest salary range will be $28,220 to $43,074. At the top end of the scale, the range will be $77,239 to $98,028.
The lawmakers also approved a new polciy that requires non-union employees to have at least five years of service to qualify for retiree health insurance.
Those with five to nine years of service will be eligible for county payment of 55 percent of their health insurance premium and 35 percent of a spouse’s.
Those with 26 or more years of service will qualify for county payment of 75 percent of their health insurance premium and 35 percent of a spouse’s.
Prior to the legislature’s action, there was no minimum length of service to qualify for retiree health benefits. The new rules take effect Jan. 1.
In addition, the county will discontinue its practice of paying the monthly Medicare Part B premium for both employees and their spouses.
Instead, it will pay only one of the two.

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