Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting
Members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors approved four new positions during the Feb. 7 regular board meeting, along with granting the Sheriff’s Department request to be exempt from having to bring any correction officer hires before the board for final approval.
County Manager Daniel Palmer said that the process that the county has created with bringing any new hires before the board for final approval was not a hiring freeze.
“It was not a hiring freeze; it was a request that any position that needed to be filled needs to come before the board,” Palmer said.
Sheriff Richard Cutting asked to be exempt from the policy because he needed to make sure that he could fill any correction officer position in a timely manner, and waiting for full board approval could take up to two months depending on when a position was vacated.
“He just can't wait 6 to 8 weeks to wait to fill a position of a person that he is using every day,” Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said.
“These are mandated positions,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “If you have a certain number of cells, whether you have 20 inmates or 100 inmates in there, you have to have a certain number of staff members on hand up there. I do not think that the sheriff is asking for anything above and beyond what is mandated.”
Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley added that the Sheriff’s Department exemption was similar to one given to the Horace Nye Nursing Home.
“Deborah does not have to come before us for certain positions, and (Cutting) is in the same situation,” she said.
Willsboro Supervisor Ed Hatch did not agree, as he was the lone no vote on the measure.
The board also approved the hiring of a Mental Health Department typist and a deputy public defender (Hatch voted against the latter), along with two positions for the Public Health Department which were brought to the board’s attention at the meeting.
The positions, a HEAP employee that was already budgeted and paid for as well as a member for the clerical staff, were both approved, but Scozzafava expressed concern over the timing.
“I am just concerned that we put in a plan to go through these positions and we are getting a lot of people that are coming in with these 11th hour requests and making a mad sprint in front of the full board,” he said. “I am not against the position, but I would like to see you follow the procedure.”
“If this position is 100 percent funded, then why are we having an argument about this?” North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi asked.
“Because we put a resolution on file that says we are going to review these positions and I want to know if we are going to follow it or not,” Scozzafava replied.
O’Neill said the clerical position needed to be filled because of an in-house promotion that created an opening in the four-person pool.