Catt. Co. Dumps Civil Service Commission

LITTLE VALLEY – After about a year in committee, a plan to do away with the Cattaraugus County Civil Service Commission in favor of a personnel director is in the works and will move ahead after passing the legislative body last week.

After a silent public hearing, the 21-person legislature voted 14-3, with four members absent from the vote, to do away with the three-person commission. Voting to retain the commission were District 10 Legislators John Padlo, D-Olean, and James Snyder Sr., R-Olean; and District 3 Legislator Norman Marsh, R-Little Valley.

Although the move will not take effect until May 1, 2015, the plan to do away with the panel will bring Cattaraugus County out of the list with a handful of other New York counties that are still holding onto the system that was recommended to be dissolved by a 1960s panel.

District 8 Legislator Carl Edwards, R-Limestone, has said that the elimination of the three positions would save the taxpayers of Cattaraugus County $24,000, the amount paid to the three members of the board.

The three members are the only paid appointed board members representing the county. That has been a point of contention for some time, according to District 1 Legislator Paula Stockman, R-South Dayton. The commission was a target a few years ago, as the county was going through a tough economic time.

“We had a meeting with the commissioners and told them that their department was heavy on the levy,” she said.

Others have heard displeasure from constituents on the matter.

“I talk to people all the time that are upset by the political patronage that goes on with this board,” said District 9 Legislator Susan Labuhn, D Salamanca. “They want this issue to be dealt with and be done with it.”

A concern many have is that it would create a position of too much power in the personnel director’s office, once that person were to take over. Logistically, according to David Moshier, current human resources director, there would be changes in the length that the personnel director would serve, as opposed to the human resources director. According to Civil Service Law, the personnel director would have a six-year term, as opposed to the four years of the human resources director. Moshier said he does not envision any changes in the personnel numbers required in his office.

In fact, Moshier said, it could make one aspect a bit easier.

Whereas the members for the Civil Service Commission convene once a month to set eligibility lists for jobs in the county, as well as municipalities, the wait between meetings could create a wait to fill a need. With a personnel director, that wait could be a matter of just a day or so.