Delaware County budget approved with nearly 4 percent increase

By Cheryl Petersen

Delaware County’s 2014 budget was adopted by the board of supervisors last week, with a split vote of 2,871 to 1,470.
Many of the dissenting votes opposed the new budget because it slotted social service investigators under the District Attorney’s office.

As for placement of the investigators, liability was the concern.
“Under the district attorney, the investigators will not be covered by the insurance policy for their policing activities because they are not accredited,” said Kortright Supervisor, Steven Bower. “Placing them in either the Social Services Department, without policing rights, or in the Sheriff’s Department, with an accreditation to police, would be a better practice.”

Wanted to pass budget
Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller said, “As a member of Legislative Committee, in the past, we did recommend moving the investigators to the Social Services or Sheriff’s Office for liability reasons. However, the entire board has discussed it. New thoughts have come to light. Liability is always a concern and apparently it is not more so with the investigators under the DA. The point now is not to argue, but to pass this budget and I feel it would be irresponsible not to pass this budget because of this disagreement.”
The liability wasn’t the only issue. Other supervisors who opposed the budget felt it should be improved, in concurrence to the comments made at the public hearing. At the public hearing, Amanda Heaney-Smith, a resident of Sidney said, “I recommend not adopting this budget until answers are given. Why are there so many county vehicles? Who is policing the vehicle expenses and use? And, why does Delaware County have such high costs for attorneys?”

Al Perkins, Delhi Councilman, acclaimed the budget, however, asked the board to consider combining the Fiscal Affairs and Treasurer’s office. Perkins said, “Mental health services are also a big issue in Delaware County. Privatization of those services is something to look into.”

Cost cutting
The 2014 budget was adopted, unchanged, with a 3.82 percent increase. Among other changes and keeping the social service investigators under the DA, it concluded the elimination of six vacancies, an addition of $500,000 to the projected sales tax revenue, and a decrease of the amount taken from the general fund balance by $325,000. Hospitalization and retirement premium increases amounted to about $900,000.

Also of note, a resolution was passed to waive the prohibition of dual employment for county employees, paid hourly as needed, in different county department for drives in the Office of the Aging, Social Services and Veteran’s Agency. “The waiver allows four to five drivers to be able to transport clients in all three departments,” said Bill Moon.

Sharon Radtke was awarded the Social Services Employee of the Month. “Sharon is truly an inspiration to people,” said Social Services Commissioner, Bill Moon. “She adds flair to the department and makes people feel they have purpose.”

Richard Bell, director of Emergency Services, has resigned his position to move to another job opportunity.