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Cattaraugus County lawmakers mull ending Civil Service panel

LITTLE VALLEY – After spending more than a month in committee, an act to abolish the Cattaraugus County Civil Service Commission will make its way to a public hearing in the full Legislature next week.

“This is the last vestige of old-time politics that needs to go by the wayside,” District 8 Legislator Carl Edwards said.

The plan would abolish the commission in favor of a personnel director. The director would have the same responsibilities but not have the voice of the three-person committee.

One of the concerns about the commission is the amount of money they are paid to meet. Right now, the members are paid $8,000 annually.

A proposal by District 10 Legislator William J. Aiello would limit that pay to $2,400 annually. It would have the members of the commission meeting twice a month. That plan faces challenges in New York State law, according to County Attorney Thomas Brady.

“We cannot set an amount per meeting, or per diem, for the members of the commission,” he said. “It has to be an annual salary. Further, the Legislature cannot dictate the number of meetings the commission has. They are an independent board.”

“I am not opposed to this move,” District 10 Legislator, Linda Edstrom, said. “My biggest concern is, what happens down the road? I mean, we like the person that is now in the position. What’s to say we are going to like the person down the road? That’s a lot of power to place in one person’s hands.”

Several legislators have questions as the act goes to the full Legislature.

“In four or five years, you’re going to see a position trying to be created,” District 3 Legislator Norman Marsh said. “I think it’s going to end up being a bigger cost than what we are paying now.”

District 10 Legislator James J. Snyder said, “We are fixing something that’s just not broken.”