Horrigan Says New County Position ‘A Must’

MAYVILLE – At the Administrative Services Committee’s first meeting of the year, a new county position was discussed.

According to Vince Horrigan, county executive, a compliance/privacy officer must be hired.

“We need to do this, right now,” Horrigan said. “It’s something we need to do from the standpoint of complying with regulations.”

The county holds several operating licenses, and according to Christine Schuyler, director of health and human services, a compliance officer must be hired to safeguard sensitive information involving Medicare and Medicaid, and for internal monitoring and auditing.

The proposed salary range is $43,131-$66,053 and requires that the individual develop, initiate, maintain and revise policies and procedures for the general operation of the compliance program and its related activities to prevent illegal, unethical or improper conduct.

“What’s important to remember is that the county runs several health care facilities,” Schuyler said. “We are liable for things that can happen along the way. The county is at risk (without having a compliance officer).”

When legislators asked if filling the position was mandatory, Schuyler said it was a federal regulation and that the officer ensures all county departments that have any interaction with confidential information are following all federal and state rules and regulations.

“We are responsible to make sure everyone is in compliance,” Schuyler said. “This is to protect yourselves, as well as the county taxpayers against potential liability.”

The position will open if approved by the full County Legislature.

Secondly, a resolution to authorize a local law allowing municipalities the option of utilizing a “best value” standard in purchase contracts in lieu of the “lowest responsible bidder” standard was discussed.

“I think this is a great opportunity to offer smaller businesses the best value,” said PJ Wendel, R-Lakewood. “I think it’s a good economic move all around.”

When municipalities seek bids for projects, it is required in most cases that they respond to the lowest bidder. If the law is enacted, it could improve the possibility of contracting with local businesses for best value.

In other matters, Mark Geise, executive director of the County Land Bank, attended the committee meeting and provided a brief history of the land bank.

“There’s a lot that’s happened to get us where we are today,” Geise said, further requesting the remainder of $150,000 in seed money – $36,000 of which has already been used for the preparation of the land bank’s financial plan.

Additionally, a grant in the amount of $1.5 million was awarded from the office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in November for the demolition of 80 residential structures, expanded marketing efforts and initial staffing. Currently, the land bank is in the process of hiring an administrative director.

In addition to demolishing blighted structures, Geise said the land bank’s mission is to transform dilapidated structures and put them back on the tax rolls, and provided examples of homes which have been acquired and sold in better condition to private investors.

“The land bank got about $80,000 from the sale of these properties without taking into account the taxes and closing costs,” Geise said. “That leverages $300,000 of private investment from those properties.”

Although awarding the remainder of the seed money awaits the full legislature’s approval, the resolution was approved, with the exception of Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, who voted against it.

The full legislature will discuss these resolutions and other matters at the regular meeting on Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. In the legislative chambers of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.