Cayuga County’s New Law Separates Social Services and Mental Health Surveillance | Politics


Seven years after passing a law combining the posts of Commissioner of Social Services and Director of Community / Mental Health Services, the Cayuga County Legislature passed a new law that again separates them.

With Ray Bizzari’s imminent retirement as director of community services for Cayuga County, the Legislature, at a special meeting this week, approved legislation that sets the stage for his replacement by two people.

Bizzari was the only person to hold the post of director of community services under the 2014 law that made the post responsible for the county’s mental health and social services. At the time, the legislature and the county administrator thought the merger made sense because there was considerable overlap in the clientele served by the two departments.

But as Bizzari prepared to quit his job in the county, he recommended reinstating the separate posts: a social services commissioner and a community services director who would oversee the county’s mental health services, including his clinic on North Street in Auburn.

“With a combined budget of $ 47 million and 200 employees, both departments need and require full-time leadership,” Bizzari wrote in a column on local law published by The Citizen in October. “A lot has changed in these departments since my appointment in 2014 to lead both, so I support this part of the proposal as it provides for appropriate full-time leadership that ultimately best serves the residents of our. county. Due to various reimbursements, this model endowment has little financial impact for taxpayers.

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The County Legislature was originally looking to hold a public hearing and vote on a new local in October, but an issue with the wording of that local law raised concern from the County Community Service Board of Cayuga, an appointed agency that under state law hires the community. director of services.

The October version of the local law included language that would have given the county legislature the power to create a separate mental health director position that it would hire.

In the same column where he supported the broader concept of separating social services from the mental health department, Bizzari said his opposition to the idea of ​​splitting the posts of director of mental health and director of community services.

Lawmaker Elane Daly, who chairs the county health and social services committee, said the intention of the original wording was to preserve the ability of the legislature to take over oversight of the health clinic. mental if there is a problem, as the post is an official department of the county government. head post. Lawmakers had not planned to immediately hire two different people for these functions. “It was really more of a ‘what if’,” she said of the language.

But in order to alleviate concerns, local law was reformulated to remove this language and reintroduced into the November legislative cycle. A public hearing was held at a special legislative meeting on Wednesday, and after no member of the public spoke, the local law was passed unanimously.

Daly said the county can move forward with its search for a commissioner of social services and the Community Service Board can do the same for the post of director of community services. Officials hope to have replacements by January 28, when Bizzari leaves.

The new local law does not establish salaries for either position. This decision will be made by the legislature as it controls the county budget.

Although the Community Services Commission has the power to hire or fire a director of community services, the law states that it must consult the legislature on this matter.

“Because the position also serves as a department head under the county legislature, the CSB must include the legislature or delegate (s) that the legislature may choose in the recruiting process, and must make a good effort. faith to obtain the approval of the legislature concerning the successful candidate ”, specifies the law.

Jeremy Boyer can be reached at (315) 282-2231 or [email protected]lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenBoyer


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