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Community Services reorganizes administration

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CANTON — Reorganization of the administration of St. Lawrence County Community Services prompted legislators to push for additional revenue from the department Tuesday, much as they had from County Clerk Mary Lou Rupp the day before.

“She didn’t like it either,” said Legislator Donald A. Peck, R-Gouverneur.

Legislators agreed to administrative changes recommended by Community Services Director Angela M. Doe, abolishing the positions of deputy director of community services and director of chemical dependency services and creating a coordinator of mental health and chemical dependency services for a salary savings of $88,000.

The changes are part of Ms. Doe’s efforts to make her staff see more clients for billable hours.

The personnel changes were planned for January but were moved up to take advantage of reimbursements possible in the remainder of 2013. The reorganization also means revenues could be higher than projected for 2014.

“If you want me to fish for revenue, I’m not comfortable with that,” Ms. Doe said.

Nevertheless, a majority of legislators pumped up her

department’s revenue for 2014 by $45,000.

The legislative budget review started out by asking department heads to come up with a total of $1.5 million in cuts in case an equivalent amount of state/tribal compact money is not received next year.

“Now, we’re doing a 180,” said Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg. “We’re asking the department heads to magically make money appear. I think it’s the wrong way to build a budget.”

Other Republicans echoed Mr. Lightfoot’s desire to discuss whether the county should provide mental health and substance abuse counseling at all.

“We have never gotten to those discussions,” said Legislator Mark H. Akins, R-Lisbon. “We’re always looking at $1,200 here or raise your revenue there. I don’t believe we should be nickel-and-diming you.”

Lawmakers should not second-guess Ms. Doe, said Legislator Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler.

“If you have a little more revenue, we’ll see it in the fund balance,” he said.

However, Legislator Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, said it is less risky to boost the Community Services revenue than pay for parts of the budget with the $1.5 million in compact funds that could never materialize if negotiations on land claims collapse.

At the suggestion of Department of Social Services Commissioner Christopher R. Rediehs, a majority of legislators also agreed to cut $75,000 to reduce on-the-job training and job readiness programs.

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