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Comptroller Offers Cost Saving Alternative to Social Services Reorganization

Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw provides Legislature with an alternative savings plan to expand Child Protective Services team at no additional cost to taxpayers

(Buffalo) – The Office of Erie County Comptroller provided the Erie County Legislature with a cost savings plan to create an additional Child Protective Services (CPS) team to best protect children throughout Erie County.  A recent proposal by Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz adds seven new positions to the budget at a cost to taxpayers of $424,657. 

The new plan proposed by Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw strengthens the protection of children by adding a new CPS team, but using fully funded vacant positions that have already been paid for in the budget.  This would save taxpayers the unnecessary burden of paying $424,657 in additional salaries and fringe benefits.  The seven new budgeted positions would also place an additional and unnecessary burden on the rapidly growing New York State Pension System.

“It is wonderful to have a constructive discussion on how to best protect our most precious gifts, the children of our county.  The plan put forth by the administration is a first step in beginning the dialogue.  By working together we can fulfill the noble goal of adding a Child Protective Services team, while at the same time respecting taxpayers.  We can accomplish our shared mission of strengthening services that benefit children.  The solution is to use vacant positions at no additional cost to taxpayers,” said Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw.

Currently there are 125 vacant positions in the Department of Social Services at a total cost to taxpayers of $2,204,630.  All the Poloncarz administration needs to do is set new titles for those seven vacant positions, and an additional CPS team with even more workers can be added at no additional cost to taxpayers.

“This can be a ‘win-win’ for children, their families, and taxpayers.  My proposal calls for expanding a Child Protective Services team at no additional cost to taxpayers.  The administration’s initial report began the discussion of how to strengthen our Department of Social Services.  I wholeheartedly agree that we need to reform this department.  It is long overdue.”

“We need to take it a step further, though.  The county doesn’t have to add jobs to the budget.  All we need to do is use fully funded vacant positions, and we provide improved services at no additional cost,” added Comptroller Mychajliw.

The second component of the administration’s reorganization plan is to add three political patronage positions to the Department of Social Services.

The County Executive at his will would appoint the three “Managerial Confidential” jobs.  Westchester and Suffolk counties are similar in size to Erie County and serve a similar population.  Right now there are four staff management positions in the Department of Social Services in Suffolk County and five in Westchester County.

Currently there are four management staff positions in Erie County’s Department of Social Services.  Under the Poloncarz administration’s plan, the additional three political patronage positions would increase the management staff positions to seven in Erie County’s Department of Social Services.  That would be 40% higher than Westchester County and 75% higher than Suffolk County.

The County Executive’s plan to add those three politically appointed positions would cost taxpayers an additional $415,567 in salaries and fringe benefits.

Compare that reorganization plan to the one put in place by the Office of Erie County Comptroller that cut lower level patronage positions, hired professional accountants, implemented professional cross-training for employees, open positions were not filled right away, workers were asked to do more with less, delivery of services were improved, and the end result were almost $500,000 in savings in the 2013 budget.

“We don’t have enough information to justify the expense of the administration expanding political appointments,” added Comptroller Mychajliw.

The new Poloncarz spending plan comes on the heels of the administration admitting they never sent the Erie County Legislature, as required under the Erie County Code, year end budget projections for the June and July Budget Monitoring Report (BMR) that helps legislators determine the course of how tax dollars will be spent next year.

The Erie County charter mandates that the County Executive’s proposed budget for 2014 is due to the Erie County Legislature by October 15th, 2013.

“The administration should simply place this additional spending plan in the 2014 budget instead of trying to have it approved now.  No one can put this spending plan in perspective without the budget projections the County Executive has not even provided yet, and without looking at the entire proposed 2014 budget,” said Comptroller Mychajliw.

The Office of Erie County Comptroller analyzed the County Executive’s reorganization of the Department of Social Services and provided findings to the Erie County Legislature.  The total gross cost for the ten additional positions, including the three political appointees, would be $821,116.

Click here to view the report to the Legislature