Reshuffling Planned for Putnam Health

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.”

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