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Lawmakers to consider adding to county payroll

The Cattaraugus County Legislature will vote Wednesday on measures creating jobs in the Public Works, Health and Social Services departments.

Two of the proposals would boost nursing and caseworker staff levels to maintain state certification of the Health Department's Home Health Care Division and reduce caseloads for Social Services investigators of child abuse and family welfare.

The committee wants to cut two vacant community health nurse slots and one vacant licensed practical nurse. Health Director Barb Hastings says those jobs are difficult to fill but are needed to provide in-home acute services and therapy for about 360 homebound and long-term-care patients.

The resolution will create three full-time registered nursing jobs with beginning pay ranging from of $19.59 to $21.91 per hour, plus mileage and other benefits.

The cost of the new positions will exceed $90,000, but the nurses will handle more home visits to boost the county's revenues by about $67,000.

The two caseworker positions in Social Services, to be paid in the range of $18.89 to $21.12 per hour, would help improve services for victims of alleged abuse and maltreatment, which Social Services Director Wendy Bourgeois said are expected to exceed last year's total of 1,500.

More than 70 percent of the county's Child Protective Services caseworkers, whose recommended caseload is 12 children, are now juggling 20 open cases a month. A state survey ranked the county 59th out of 62 counties in the state for its high number of investigations and 30th in the percentage of timely determinations of its cases.

Bourgeois told lawmakers in committee sessions last week that the county was cited recently by the Regional Office of Children and Family Services for not obtaining complete information in child protective reports.

Legislators also are expected to extend contracts for uncompleted work in its Quality Communities Program with Johnson Schmidt & Associates Architects through next March 31; Swist Government Consulting Associates through next March 31; and the University at Buffalo Law School through Dec. 31.

County Planner James Isaacson told members of the Development and Agriculture Committee last week that each of the three consulting entities has experienced problems impacting the timeliness of their work, but no additional funding is needed for the extensions.

Lawmakers also were briefed last week on the prospect of paying National Grid an additional $25,752 for moving a utility pole temporarily in a culvert replacement project on Rawson Road just south of Lyndon Center Road.

Public Works Director Dave Rivet said the county usually does not get charged by National Grid if the poles are in the road right of way, but this pole is outside the right of way. The county also must obtain a temporary easement to allow the pole to be placed on private property.

The Public Works Department hopes legislators will create a part-time cleaner because the work of cleaning the Health Department and other offices has been performed by a temporary worker.

The number of hours exceeds 400 for the task, which is in excess of civil service rules and will increase in the future. This requires a position in the part-time category, according to Public Works officials. If approved, the position will be filled immediately at the rate of $10.24 per hour.

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