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LEGISLATORS TAKING STEPS TO RESTORE 9 JOBS

Several Cattaraugus County Legislature committees agreed Wednesday to sponsor legislation that could reinstate nine of the 27 jobs that were eliminated from the 2005 budget two weeks ago.

In exchange, department heads in Public Works, Youth Bureau, Social Services and Aging have agreed to shift the payroll cuts to other positions or to cut costs in other ways.

The trade-offs were negotiated by county managers and elected officials to make adjustments in the wake of the Legislature's March 24 vote to cut its appropriations by almost $2 million through layoffs and other spending cuts.

If the resolutions pass muster in the full Legislature session next Wednesday:

Six midlevel supervisory Road and Bridge positions would be traded for two full-time positions and one half-time job.

Funds would be shifted to restore a Youth Bureau accounting job.

A supervising support officer slot abolished from Social Services in March would be reinstated in exchange for a clerical post.

One Department of Aging caseworker post would be re-created through the abolition of a day care assistant and a part-time food service worker.

Anthony L. Evans, the county's Youth Bureau director, told members of the Human Services Committee that when he took the job, he did not realize that fund raising was a part of the equation.

He said the Youth Bureau serves 26,000 children with the help of 73 funding streams that were managed by an accountant who was eliminated from his staff.

A recent audit of the funding streams resulted in a 100 percent score for his department, he said, but cutting the position is not a good solution and saves only part of the cost, while other workers are performing jobs that are outside of their pay class.

Committee members agreed to sponsor legislation to restore the position.

The six assistant road-section supervisors, accompanied by other workers and family members, attended the Public Works Committee meeting and explained the importance of their jobs to the legislators.

Several pointed out that they are not only supervisors, but also are workers who perform a variety of tasks, such as watching over road crews, cutting down dangerous trees, making job-site decisions, filling out paperwork, performing maintenance jobs, patching roads and meeting with the public.

"We're a public service agency, and we need to meet the needs of the people," said Operations Manager Dave Raecher, who has worked for the county for 30 years and oversees the assistant road-section supervisors.

Don Chinchen, president of Local 805, Civil Service Employees Association, and a 34-year truck driver in the county's West Valley highway shop, said he asked the Public Works Department to find other alternatives that would cut costs.

Members of the Public Works Committee ended a 10-minute closed-door session by announcing that they will seek restoration of the jobs that were to end May 10.

The cuts would have freed up $191,732 in wages and fringe benefits to be diverted for other needs.

County officials said that solution would have cost an additional $83,270 in unemployment payments, for a net cost reduction of only $108,462.

The Department of Aging caseworker post would be recreated through the abolition of a day care assistant and a part time food service worker.

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