Legislators told moves could save $225,000

A Putnam County legislative committee on July 14 approved a reorganization of the Health Department that could save $225,000 this year.

The unanimous vote by the three-member Personnel Committee sends the proposed changes to the full Legislature for consideration at its Aug. 4 meeting.

William Orr, the Health Department’s fiscal manager; Paul Eldridge, the county personnel director; and Dr. Michael Nesheiwat, the health commissioner, each addressed the committee, which met by a remote audio connection.

Eldridge said the proposed changes present “a golden opportunity” to save the county money immediately and in 2021.

The changes would include the elimination of a principal typist job, with salary and benefits totaling about $111,000 annually, which has been empty since March following a retirement. Instead of filling the position, the department would create an office-assistant position that pays about $69,000 annually in salary and benefits.

The vacant post of director of the early intervention and pre-school programs, whose salary and benefits are about $147,000 annually, would also be eliminated. The program already has a supervisor who provides oversight, the department said.

The Health Department would create a senior clerk position with an annual salary and benefits of about $78,000 to ease the paperwork burden on the four early intervention service coordinators, Orr said. He and Eldridge said the job will allow the county to rehire full-time the last of the four people who lost their jobs when legislators last year outsourced administration of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, a federal program known as WIC.

One of the four intervention coordinators would be promoted to supervise the others, with an annual salary and benefits increase to about $121,000 annually. The other coordinators would rise a notch to the same employment level as caseworkers in other departments, Eldridge said.

Legislator Nancy Montgomery (D-Philipstown), who is a member of the Personnel Committee, asked if employees had helped define the changes and was assured by Nesheiwat that “we did get input from everyone.”

Legislator Ginny Nacerino (R-Patterson), who chairs the committee, said “the challenge for government is to strike a balance between saving taxpayer dollars while still maintaining services” and the Health Department revamping would be “a stellar example of doing just that.”

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Armstrong was the founding news editor of The Current (then known as Philipstown.info) in 2010 and later a senior correspondent and contributing editor for the paper. She worked earlier in Washington as a White House correspondent and national affairs reporter and assistant news editor for daily international news services. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Areas of expertise: Politics and government