Monday, January 22, 2024 - 10:00 AM



Kenneth Hughes, Chairperson

Joe Pete Wilson, Vice-Chairperson


Chairman Hughes called this Personnel Meeting to order at 10:04 a.m. with the following Supervisors in attendance: Clayton Barber, Matthew Brassard, Chris Clark, Derek Doty, Shaun Gillilland, Charlie Harrington, Ken Hughes, Steve McNally, James Monty, Cathleen Reusser, Favor Smith, Matt Stanley, Ike Tyler, Joe Pete Wilson, Davina Winemiller, Margaret Wood and Mark Wright. Robin DeLoria was excused.†††


Department Heads present: Jim Dougan, Judy Garrison, Dan Manning, Jennifer Mascarenas and Michael Mascarenas.


Also present: William Tansey.


News media:SUN Ė Alana Penny.


HUGHES:Good morning everybody. Iíd like to note the time is 10:04 and weíll call this Personnel and Administration committee to order.Very quickly I would just like to say thank you to Chairman Gillilland for the opportunity to Chair this committee and I would like to welcome Supervisor Smith, Supervisor Reusser and Supervisor Brassard to this committee.Iím looking forward to working with you as we tackle the issue of the day so welcome.

First up we will welcome Jennifer Mascarenas for her report.


J. MASCARENAS:Good morning. I have my monthly report for December and I have also attached the updated vacancy list as of 12/31, thereís still 94.5 positions vacant as of 12/31.


HUGHES:So just for the new supervisors on this committee pages 3, 4 and 5 youíll see the list one FTE or a half FTE and 94.5 at the very bottom right hand corner there thatís your total amount for the different areas.Any questions?


DOTY:Jennifer can you talk a little bit more about concessions that civil service is anticipating helping us all out with qualifications or not having to adhere to the list and will we need to suggest different job titles for them or is the county casting a broad map?


J. MASCARENAS:Currently we have a HELP program that is for human services, case workers, social services workers things like that that is allowing us to change our rules from competitive to non-competitive so those people just have to qualify they donít actually have to take the civil service exam and score in the top three.Right now that is the only thing that is being adjusted as far as any help for any vacancies at this point.


DOTY:But it isnít in effect yet?


J. MASCARENAS: It isnít in effect yet. Only the public hearing has been scheduled so weíre working on that.


MASCARENAS:Itís not in effect for us yet.


J.MASCARENAS:Right it has been for others that have already been through the whole process of changes.


DOTY: Does that effect look probable though?


MASCARENAS: Well once you pass it hopefully after the public hearing it will help in those areas.What the state is doing right now it looks like in the executive budget and Mr. Gillilland,not to steal your thunder but he did recently write support of expanding this program to a larger audience so it looks like the state is part of the Governorís budget is going to expand this for themselves but what we are asking them to do is pass that along to us as we are the provider of service locally often working on behalf of them as their agent to do this work and civil service while I absolutely agree with some of it currently itís really acting as a barrier to employment so we do get a number of individuals that want to apply for exams but are really apprehensive about taking a provisional appointment and leaving a full time job and it has caused a problem. So what will happen is right now theyíre only temporary grants so once youíre public hearing happens and you pass it we can temporarily approve that but people will gain permanent status for those individuals that qualify for those positions and I do think it will behoove the state especially in those areas, you have a letter in front of you that kind of NYSAC is running up the ladder right now areas of law enforcement, human services where counties are really struggling to get people and trying to pass that help along to us would be awesome.


DOTY: Thank you.


HUGHES: Thank you.


GILLILLAND: I will just say that Assemblyman Jones is leading the charge of legislature on expanding this to county local civil service positions thatís why I answered the request, for county positions.


HUGHES:Shaun do you feel like a resolution from this committee should be motion, second and passed to support that effort?


GILLILLAND: I think we should NYSAC and Assemblyman Jones actions, yes.


HUGHES: Is there a member of this committee that would like to make that motion?




HUGHES: Any questions, comments or concerns?All in favor aye, opposed Ė carried.Thank you very much. Jen, anything else you would like to share?I have one question for you, on page 3 where you talk about the seven new employee orientations does that include members of the Board of Supervisors?


J. MASCARENAS: No because this was in December.


HUGHES: Okay.Any questions for Jen?


MONTY:Itís not really a question Jen just a reminder that the United Way campaign is slowly coming to a close and I know Jen has forms available in her office pertaining to the payroll deduction and again, remind everyone I have a challenge out there from the last board meeting and the more that we can help the United Way the more it helps the people we are working for. Thank you and thank you Jen for you and your office taking care of that.


HUGHES: Thank you very much. Anybody else for Jen?Okay, thank you.Moving onto Judy Garrison, Clerk of the Board.


GARRISON:Good morning.I submitted a monthly report if anyone has any questions on that?I also just wanted to remind the board the NYSAC Conference is coming up February 26-28th in Albany so if anyone is interested in attending please let me know as soon as possible. I have heard back from a few of you.Thatís it.


HUGHES: Just curious, show of hands whoís thinking about going to NYSAC?Okay, thanks make sure you connect with Judy and get that scheduled if youíre interested.Thatís the legislative conference right?




HUGHES:Any questions for Judy?Okay weíll move onto Mr. Manning. Good morning.


MANNING: Good morning.Just one brief matter, as you know we are in the process of establishing our Assigned Counsel Administrative Office, an Administrator and an Assigned Counsel Supervising Attorney.I believe Claytonís sub-committee met and they are going over applications and interviews are going to be coming up relatively soon. We have an existing contract with Justin Meyer who is an attorney in Plattsburgh who is currently handling all of the criminal side of the assigned counsel work so Iíd like to extend his contract, his existing contract on a month to month basis until we have our new Assigned Counsel Administrator and Assigned Counsel Supervising Attorney and office open so that they can continue to have assigned counsel duties met.






MONTY:Is Mr. Meyer interested in the full time position Dan?


MANNING: Itís a part-time position. He is and I can talk to you after about some of the things.




HUGHES: Any other questions?


GILLILLAND: I have heard Essex County Attorneys too who have stopped me and questioned me about the Supervising Attorney too, so there is interest out there.




MANNING: Iím sorry there are four applicants right now and if there is any other interested just on the record, please send in an application.


MONTY: I know it was a struggle previously to try and find someone.




MONTY: I didnít know that there was others interested.




HUGHES: Any other questions for Mr. Manning?All in favor of the resolution signify by saying aye, opposed Ė carried. Thank you. Anything else?


MANNING: No, that is it.


HUGHES: Okay thank you very much.Moving onto recruitment and retention I was hoping that maybe Mr. Dougan could speak briefly to the workforce development actions that weíve been taking any update from that world?


DOUGAN:Regarding CV Tech?


HUGHES: Yes, CV Tech.


DOUGAN: So Dan has been working on our MOU with them and I have been sharing with CV Tech our job openings at least from my department I need to expand on that a little bit and get the updated list from Jen but theyíve been working with some of their alumni.Right now especially if you were to look at my list of vacancies which is 16 right now the positions I need the most are automotive mechanic or construction equipment mechanic and so I sent them our job descriptions and they are reaching it out and getting it out to their alumni who have graduated from a couple of their programs so I have yet to see any applicants yet.This is something that we have just been working on in the last couple of weeks and their Natural Resource Conservation Class the guys that are doing site work on heavy equipment have been including in this semester they are starting to talk about work at the Fish Hatchery and are hoping that once weather breaks they are going to get there and get some tree removals, do a little bit of clearing to creating a walking path around the edge. Weíve had conversations on those things so those are the couple of things Iím working with CV Tech right now and itís on my plate to get with Jen to expand it so she is sending it directly to them so those kids see those opportunities.


HUGHES: So it sounds like we are just waiting on an MOU, right?


DOUGAN: Yup MOU is in process and then like I said they arenít ready to move in this kind of weather but by spring, closer to spring some of those students plan to work with us.


HUGHES: My hope is that we can keep this conversation alive in this committee meeting because certainly you have the greatest opportunity I think to yield the greatest dividends as quickly as possible but hopefully your beta testing with this and your success will yield success in other departments as well so it shouldnít just be on you but this is hopefully the lowest hanging fruit that we can really benefit from in short term.


DOUGAN:They do want to do more job shadowing as we discussed earlier. They want to do more job shadowing and paid internships for some of their programs which I think weíll reach beyond just DPW into the other fruits as well.


HUGHES: And for the new supervisors weíve been discussing recruitment and retention since 2020-2021 ways that we can continue to retain our employees but also ways that we can to recruit new employees to our job openings and opportunities knowing that we have a lot of competition out there with a lot of other agencies in Essex County and beyond so if anybody in the audience has ideas about how we might recruit and/or retain better certainly new blood, new perspectives please feel free to share those so we can consider those. They will be well received and potentially implemented so donít be shy.


HARRINGTON:Also a program like this adds to the stability and creditability of CVES.They recruit students that more than likely will be life time residents of the area so this is a good thing.


HUGHES: Great point, thank you.


MONTY:I serve on another board with a colleague who serves on the CVES board and they are very excited about this opportunity, they are very excited.They think itís a great idea and they are more than willing to work with Essex County so they are excited as we are.


HUGHES: Itís a win Ė win for all the reasons that were just mentioned.I appreciate you taking the time to update the committee.Thank you.


DOUGAN: Thank you.


HUGHES:Mr. Tansey, good morning.We are now going to discuss a couple of final edits for the Personnel Policy Manual.So again, for new members of the committee the policy manual has been a document that has been unedited for quite some time, unmodified for quite some time and so this document actually has been gone through a major revision over the past year or so.We are coming down to the wire on this and final edits and Mr. Tansey has been leading the charge so welcome.


TANSEY: Thank you.Welcome to Monday. We started with a good policy manual and we I think made it better.We were certainly open to changes throughout the year and maybe even update it on a semi-annual or dual-annual basis.I handed you a packet thereís three issues I think these are the three outstanding issues. I think weíve come up with a solution and I would just like to walk you through them.

Page 1 Ė page 31 at the bottom, outside employment paragraph (7) prior to engaging in outside employment, county employees shall seek advice from their department head I think thatís a compromise from various suggestions making it mandatory informing the department head and certainly making sure employees understand their commitments to the county prior or foremost when taking on secondary employment.Shall seek, thatís the language Iím proposing any concerns please let me know.

The second page in the packet, page 60 of the manual, Health Insurance Buy Out.Itís been several questions raised this past fall that made the provision somewhat unclear we tried to make them more clear in paragraph D. Eligibility for Insurance Buy Out shall be pursuant to current and revised rules established by the Board of Supervisors. The Personnel Office shall determine eligibility and the amount to be paid to eligible employees.There was concerns if we take a very traditional insurance buy out that if I have a spouse whoís under a government plan, works for the school letís say we are covered under her plan I can get a buy out from the county as long as I can prove it.If I get to a more untraditional out of the ordinary fact pattern letís say I have a father who works for the county and three kids who work for the county those kids do not get a full insurance buy out itís partial, if any.So rather than going through all the fact patterns and possible scenarios weíre just going to leave it up to the Personnel office to determine eligibility.


MASCARENAS:Yeah, the under 26 provision of Obama Care kind of confused that issued you may or may not being dealing with that in your communities but thatís been a problem for us for sure.


TANSEY:So, itís got some vagueness there I understand that but it certainly allows our Personnel Office, Jen to step in this particular fact scenario doesnít apply to you and it prevents us or makes it so we donít have to come up with every possible fact scenario against the insurance buy out.Is there a question?


McNALLY: I know in our policy you have to, to get the buyout you have to be eligible for health insurance so like spouses of course you canít get health insurance because their spouse can provide it like if two spouses work both for the town but a 24 year old kid, they are still eligible to be under their parentís insurance because they are under 26, they shouldnít be eligible for the buyout.


MASCARENAS: Thatís the policy that weíre following currently we have been challenged on it because whatís qualifying the parent for the higher buyout is the child so for us we have tier buyout amounts.


McNALLY: We donít want to put this on all the Personnel Department to deny.


MANNING: Itís not it will be by resolution of the board and then the Personnel Department will implement it the way it is written.


McNALLY:Because thatís a lot of pressure.


MASACARENAS:Yes and weíve had that battle quit often lately.


HUGHES:So should the language of D be strengthened to reflect what Mr. Manning and Mr. McNally are saying?


MANNING: No what weíll do is weíll have a resolution by the board that sets the parameters that Personnel will use and thatís what that says.




MANNING: And the key to this is what is eligibility thatís the whole ball of wax and as Bill mentioned those very scenarios.If youíre under 26 years old, you work here, your dad works, your dad gets insurance and has a family plan youíre on the family plan we get to determine that.Itís our policy and what Iíve read and what Bill has read is we get to set the plan as long as itís not illegal.


McNALLY:But what happens if youíre an employee of the county and youíre 24 years old and youíre eligible for your fatherís insurance who also works for the county but you also have children of your own?


MANNING: Your children are not covered, you will have to get your own plan.It doesnít extend to children of children.


McNALLY:Are they eligible for county health insurance under a separate plan?


MASCARENAS:They are certainly eligible. We do have instances where that occurs and where people qualify for Fidelis or some other Governmental supportive program our policy also doesnít do buyouts for anything thatís Government supported but thatís not uncommon now for us being a larger employer for somebody to be on their parentís insurance as long as that parentís insurance is off site then we would give that person the buyout if they had other insurance for their children so thatís the problem with trying to determine every little situation that may come up or may not come up and the ability of the board to be able to pass a resolution to determine what eligibility actually is.


HUGHES:We just need to be consistent.




MANNING: But if youíre under 26 and you have children your children will have to get under that plan if you are under father or motherís plan.


MASCARENAS: Well we have some that donít again, they might be under their parent that are off sight but they might carry Fidelis on their children thatís not unusual we have quite a few people that are not taking our policy necessarily that have children here so employees have a lot of options when it comes to insurance and how they move forward especially under 26.


TANSEY:Your question highlights the importance of each individual fact pattern and the question really comes down to what insurance is covering each individual, the child and grand-children in that case youíre going to come up with multiple answers depending on the facts so I will leave those specific fact patterns to Jen to wade through rather than having it in the Personnel manual if thatís okay?

The last big change I had was on page 65, the last page it comes under the retirement benefits.Retirement health insurance benefits for elected and appointed county officials, paragraph B Ė we made it 15 years of service for any elected or full-time appointed Essex County official who was elected or appointed after 2009.I had discussed maybe putting a list of appointed officials because appointed officials are not clearly defined instead we came up with some broader language here, appointed officials is one approved by the Board of Supervisors which is essentially all your Department Heads or works Ďat willí by the Department Head.There are several employees of the county who are hired by the department head, negotiate their own salaries, their own benefits, they are essentially Ďat willí I think I fall under that category and there are some others secretaries, some confidential secretaries but not all so rather we leave it in that language the individual who is appointed and they know who they are itís part of their benefit, as part of their invite to work letter.


MONTY:You confused me which isnít hard to do with all thatís going on when you said, Ďat willí employees hired by the department head did you just say they negotiate their salary and benefits?


MASCARENAS: Somewhat true, somewhat not true.


MONTY: Mike, explain that to me.


MASCARENAS: Because Bill is so thatís what he knows so Iím going to let him off the hook.So letís give Bill a break right here.Confidential secretaries certainly are graded still they donít have the ability to negotiate their salary they fall under a salaries table but they certainly work at the will of the department heads so for example, if there was a new Commissioner that came into DSS they could get rid of that confidential secretary and replace them with a new one and because of that they fall under an MC type they donít have permanent status under civil service so that kind of Ďat willí employment.The attorneys that work for DSS are Ďat willí Bill works Ďat willí the attorneys that work for DA are Ďat willí Public Defenders are Ďat willí so there are a handful of those departments that have Ďat willí people that could be eliminated.


MONTY: And at the same token, there is no job guarantee for those people in those positions?


MASCARENAS:Correct, we talked about doing this a long time ago probably about six months ago and really, this is about trying to Ė this is another recruitment and retention tool. We had gotten up to twenty years and what we were effectively doing is turning away the forty something year old work force that weíre trying to get. Weíve had some success getting those individuals in recent years and they are some of our leaders in our county now and thatís a big barrier for somebody coming if they are in their 40ís and say, well Iíve got to work another 20 years to leave with retirement and leave with my insurance so kind of regressing on that a little bit but still having some solid foundation.When I first came to the county it was five.People had to work for five but with cost of insurance going up annually weíve been pushing that up but now itís kind of getting in our way of attracting qualified candidates.


HUGHES:Does that help?




MASCARENAS: And weíve got to give Bill a break.


HUGHES: Bill, anything else you want to share about the suggested modifications?


TANSEY: I am not aware of any other modifications but if there are please let me know.If these modifications are satisfactory, I would ask that the policy manual be put to the full board for final improvement.


REUSSER: I just had one question.Back under the engaging in outside employment, is there an application process or disclosure of that employment made in writing by the employee so they have to present you with a paper request for their department head?


TANSEY: Currently not but Iím not going to speak for all department heads.Iím sure there are some department heads out there that are a little bit more strict in outside employment because it would affect their department more than others but I would say from the county level, from the policy manual level there is not a requirement for a paper application, no.


MASCARENAS:What we are really looking at here is trying to avoid conflict for employees that may have other employment and not realize it.The goal certainly isnít to try to stop everybody thatís working somewhere else from working there and not creating so much paper and then who reviews it all and then who makes all those determinations?Right? So a lot of our employees especially with DPW, law enforcement they do have other jobs. We have people that make crafts on the weekends and travel to craft fairs well that doesnít impact us I donít know that we need somebody filling out an application and putting it in front of somebody to review and creating a capacity issue in other departments but if we had somebody say in DPW that maybe had a plowing business that they were plowing maybe Stewarts or maybe Kinneyís parking lot and then not showing up to work here on snow events well, we would want to know about that because that affects your ability for employment here so it might be something that we evolve as time goes but I think itís a really good start. We havenít had this provision and I certainly donít want to create more red tape for our employees and more barriers for getting people here to work so itís kind of our attempt at getting it started.


REUSSER: I know at the state level if youíre employed by the state and you want to work for another agency you have to make a big exposure.




TANSEY: The state does have regulations that require that, yes and the county has the ethicís law and we have a conflict of interest policy so we have a way of enforcing someone working a second job over their county employment this just allows and makes sure our employees understand, everybody understands.


HUGHES: Any other questions for Mr. Tansey?


WINEMILLER:I just want a little bit of clarification and I think Mike actually might be able to answer this question. It was my understanding and perhaps I am incorrect that if you work at a job that youíre eligible for health insurance than youíre not eligible for Obama care or some other type of Government insurance?


MASCARENAS:Itís income determined. So what we do see with some of our employees that might meet a certain economic scale if they have two children they might take our single plan for themselves and then they might have children of marital status youíre not married but now you have somebody paying child support or somebody else might be carrying kids, thereís a lot of circumstances that weíre seeing when it comes to health care so income eligibility is the major requirement for children and how that works under eligibility.


WINEMILLER: Okay thank you.


HUGHES: Any other questions for Mr. Tansey? If thereís not I would like to request a motion to approve the Essex County policy manual as presented and amended.




HUGHES:Any questions? Weíll make sure we get a full copy.


WINEMILLER:Yeah, I thought we were going to review it?


HUGHES:We will get a full copy to the board.I thought it had already been seen?



SMITH: I thought this was merely to approve the suggested language changes?


TANSEY: I had put together a full draft and have received inputs, these were the three biggest inputs to change the policy manual. There were two others that I presented back in December.If I understand the question I can put together the working draft the actual existing draft.



HUGHES: I would like to make sure that the committee members and the whole board have a copy of the whole document. It has been presented to the board before everyone has had a chance to look at it thatís why I am motioning that.


GILLILLAND: We can email it this week to everybody.


HUGHES:Yes, absolutely.Letís move this along. Thatís my recommendation.


MANNING:Mr. Hughes asked me and I was under the impression that everybody had seen the policy and you were okay with it and these are a couple of amendments so I recommended that to him.So itís not his bad.


MASCARENAS: For new members, this has been a yearlong review.


HUGHES: If you want to modify the motion Iím happy to do that too. I say we move it forward, you get an email, take a look at it and then weíll bring it to ways and means if thereís questions there we can do that at full board, if there is questions as well.So I have a motion and a second on the floor any other questions? All in favor aye, opposed Ė carried.Thank you.

Is there anything else to come before?


WILSON:I would like to move a resolution of appreciation to UPS driver, Corey Howe for his heroic actions on September 25, 2023, when there was a tanker truck crash on Route 73, between Chapel Pond and Round Pond and he pulled the driver from the truck, got medical attention and then put out a fire in the truck so Iím making that motion.




HUGHES: Thank you very much.Any other business?


McNALLY:Iím not on this committee but Iím just sitting here going over what Mr. Tansey handed out and I see we still have a lot of 37 Ĺ hour employees and just a thought, with a shortage of employees, do we have employees that are 37 Ĺ that would like the additional 2 and a half hours a week?


MASCARENAS:†† Hereís the issue, we have a lot of 35 too.


McNALLY:I mean, we are already paying the benefit on them, the only thing that we are going to pay is wage.


MASCARENAS: The answer is yes and the answer is no so when I was Ė thatís how people are right?I mean I was Commissioner of Social Services, I went down, I talked to the employees one day, I saidhow many of you would like to work more hours?†† Half the hands would go up the other half would say, no I donít. I like my schedule. I can be home with my kids every day at this certain time, Iíve got to get day care, Iíve got to do this, so to me the issue is you canít allow the employee to pick and choose itís really kind of a work schedule thing that you have to be consistent with within a department. So you have 70 people in DSS that work 35 hours now if you went to 40 could you reduce the amount of staffing needed to cover those jobs?Theoretically you could because youíre putting more hours into the work week for everybody else.The bottom line is it could cause you issues now where more people are leaving for other employment because they like the schedule?Yeah, it could so again, being that we deal with a bargaining unit we canít put it in each individualís employees hands to determine what hours they are going to work or want to work but youíre absolutely right and weíve looked at doing that wherever possible and we will continue to but itís more a consensus of we donít want to create a problem where a problem doesnít exist or make a problem worse.


McNALLY: It seems like you can take the people that want to work the extra hours and put them in a separate position.Iím sure thereís people that want to work additional hours as Iím sure thereís people wouldnít but for those people willing while we are sitting here short on staff and we have people willing to work the additional two and a half or four hours or five hours a week, let these people work they do a good job, let them work.


REUSSER: And that would still be at straight time, correct?


MASCARENAS: Up to forty, correct you donít hit overtime until youíre at 40.


McNALLY: We are paying the vacations, we are paying the benefits on these people itís not going, the only this it is going to cost is the salary and a little social security.


REUSSER: I wonder if they changed their mind on that if there was a scenario put together where you showed the 35, the 37 and then the 40 hour person at the time of retirement the 35 would yield this and so on the value of the additional hours in their lifetime.


MASCARENAS: Yes it is significant just on an annual salary for 35 to 40 youíre probably looking at $5,000 a year.


GILLILLAND: We visit this just about every budget season and it is where it is based upon that and we havenít heard really coming out of the labor management requests or anything but it is a budget issue because we already budgeted for this year so if we are going to consider this going forward we should wait until budget season and also ask department heads what the feeling is but it really is a budget issue.


HUGHES: Thank you. Anything else to come before this committee?


MONTY: I agree with what Mike and what Shaun said.Then you are going to have the employees that are going to say well, I can be more productive working from home so thereís another aspect that you would have to consider in that whole thing to me itís a trickledown effect that granted if they need more money thatís the best way to do it with more hours but like Mike said they have family commitments, other commitments and it doesnít work out for them I get it and stuff. I think itís something to look at but itís not going to solve the problem.Throwing money at problems doesnít solve anything.


McNALLY:Do we have employees that are 35 hours that actually work more than that because actually up tasks?


MASCARENAS: Sure we do.We have overtime budgets to support that.


McNALLY:Right but we do have that, it is pretty common?


MASCARENAS:Yeah, thereís always people that are first in line when the opportunity to work extra comes and thereís always those individuals that are happy to go home at the end of their shift itís just the nature of the beast.


McNALLY:I would like to see that first group rewarded and this is a way to do it.


HUGHES: Anything else to come before this committee?We are adjourned, thank you.


†††††††††† As there was no further business to come before this Personnel committee it was adjourned at 10:40 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,




Judith Garrison, Clerk

Board of Supervisors