Thursday, January 30, 2014

Committee recommends mostly minor tweaks to county charter

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 1:10 PM

The members of a committee reviewing the laws that specify Monroe County government's organization and operations presented their initial recommendations this morning. The members of the Charter Review Committee seem primary concerned about modernizing the document. 

Each of the committee's seven members were charged with reviewing specific areas of the county charter. For the most part, members recommended technical changes, such as bringing the charter into compliance with state law, changing outdated job titles, and requiring things like reports or the budget to be publicly posted online. And in some cases, they suggested wording changes; Democratic County Legislator and committee member John Lightfoot suggested replacing "fireman" in one section to "firefighter." 

But members did make a few significant recommendations:
  • Deputy County Executive Dan DeLaus suggested increasing the size of a contract that the county executive can sign off on without Legislature approval. The charter current sets the threshold at $5,000, but DeLaus said it should be raised to $20,000 — an amount that he said is consistent with similar counties.
  • DeLaus also recommended changing the charter to reflect a four-year term for the county clerk. The charter says the clerk has to run for election every three years, but state law, which trumps the charter, says county clerks serve four-year terms.
  • Lightfoot also suggested changing the charter to reflect a four-year term for the county sheriff. Like the clerk, the charter says the sheriff's term is three years, but state law sets it at four.
  • Jared Lusk, a Pittsford Town Board member and former attorney for the town, recommended potentially eliminating the county's Civil Service Commission and replacing it with a personnel director. Lusk and DeLaus said that the change should be examined, and that it could be more efficient and save costs. DeLaus said that most counties in New York have moved away from the Civil Service Commission model.
The committee plans to meet again at 5:30 p.m. on February 27. And it expects to hold a public input session prior to the meeting, most likely at Gates Town Hall, though it didn't set a date or time. John DiCaro, Gates town attorney and chair of the committee, says a compilation of the recommendations presented today should be publicly available in approximately one week. Once the compilation is ready, it will be available on the Charter Review Committee's website, he said. 

The committee hopes to present a final report to the County Legislature, which must approve changes to the charter, in March.

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