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Budget committee OK’s hiring county consultant

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The economic impact of the COVID-19 impact on Cortland County so far is now around $6M in damage, updated yesterday by county administrator Rob Corpora during a remote meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee.

At the same meeting, the committee voted in favor of recommending the hire of Transpro Consulting for help improving the county’s long-term operations.

That measure was proposed at the end of last year by current chair of the Legislature Paul Heider and had been widely supported prior to COVID-19, but now faces backlash from at least six legislators including budget committee co-chair Kelly Preston and Legislator Sandra Price, both of whom voted ‘no’ yesterday.

Part of their contention is a $127k price tag to hire the company, which is set to come out of a $250k deposit made into the county’s “Professional Services” account at the end of February – part of an overall $600k jail reserve transfer.

Transpro claims it can save the county several million over the coming year to make up for that cost.

Opponents of the measure also consider it to be redundant spending, as it comes just months after the legislature hired Corpora as county administrator at the end of December for $150k/year.

“I am not opposed to help; we need it now more than ever,” Corpora said yesterday. “Right now we’re looking at a $6M deficit for 2020, and that’s not even considering what will be added into that for 2021.”

Some legislators in support of the proposal have asked those who are against it to provide alternative cost-saving solutions, instead of just countering this idea.

“We need to bring in professional help to help our administrator and budget officers learn how to do things better and save money,” said LD-8 Legislator Kevin Fitch. “For those saying they’re going to vote no on this, you gotta at least come up with other suggestions on how to battle our crisis.”

Ultimately, the measure passed through committee by way of a 5-2 tally, with Price and Preston on the ‘nay’ side and Committee Chair George Wagner joining Legislators Christopher Newell, Beau Harbin, Cathy Bischoff and Kevin Fitch voting ‘yes.’

It’ll now be considered by the full legislature at a special session tomorrow at 2 pm, where contention from the opposition group is expected (see below).

(From Legislator Linda Jones)

The legislature also has a special COVID conference planned for this morning to give another update on the county’s response as it relates to mutual interests with each of its municipalities.

Stay tuned with WXHC News for updates to this story and more.

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