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New Workers Comp Plan Signals Better Times Ahead for County-Municipal Relations

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During last night’s (December 19) session, the Cortland County Legislature officially signed onto a new workers compensation plan through the Public Employer Risk Management Association (PERMA).

The resolution culminates years of contention with the various municipalities over the previous plan, which most of them threatened to leave due to issues they had with its long-term sustainability, as the Village of Homer did this past January.

As the issue ballooned this year, it forced some long unsettled conversations to be had, ultimately leading to a hard-fought success.

Following unanimous passage of the new plan, Legislative Chairman Kevin Whitney and Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin expressed appreciation for each other in the process, which was admitted by both to have been a long and difficult one.

Whitney highlighted just how far along the process has come, first referring to a July meeting that was, as he described it, less than promising:

(Photos from meeting video at

“I can remember meeting with the mayor, Mack [Cook] and a few others in my office and that meeting didn’t go too well,” Chairman Whitney said. “I would like to thank the mayor for putting this into the framework and explaining to the group what we’re trying to accomplish. And I know going forward, the new leadership will see that through.”

Whitney also applauded Mayor Tobin’s ability to coordinate the rest of the municipalities to swifty pass resolutions of their own to allow this plan to finalize in a relatively short amount of time.

Yesterday’s meeting was the last for Whitney after eight years as a legislator.

He decided not to run for re-election in the recent November elections in order to spend more time with his wife and two daughters.

Mayor Tobin was in attendance last night to spectate the final vote, after which he addressed the legislature and thanked Whitney, specifically for his persistence in getting this issue worked out before his term was up.

“I think this gives the county, the towns, the villages and the city an opportunity to move forward collectively and really finish 2019 on a high note. And Kevin, I’ll pass the thanks back to you, because while we may have disagreed once or twice,Mayor Tobin said with light sarcasm, as the room – Whitney included – broke into laughter. “This was an issue that was difficult and had lots to unwind, and similar to your other job as a fireman, you ran towards danger consistently when a lot of other people would’ve ran away.”

In addition to Whitney, several others were recognized for their service prior to the official start of their final meeting as legislators, including Michael Barylski (LD-12), Donnell Boyden (LD-8), Joan Coombs (LD-17) and Chad Poli (LD-5).

The new Cortland County Legislature will convene for its first organization meeting at 10 a.m. on January 2, 2020.

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