BY KEVIN BONESKE
The Oneida County Board doesn’t want the county returning state funds in the future because of a shortage of employees at the highway department.
Supervisors voted Tuesday in favor of a resolution authorizing the creation to two new full-time equipment operator positions, for which the majority of the costs associated with those positions would come from additional state funding.
County highway commissioner Freeman Bennett informed board members that though state funding the county receives for various maintenance projects has been increasing, the highway department presently doesn’t have enough workers to use all that funding.
“We simply don’t have the manpower to do it,” Bennett said.
He noted last year the county gave back $235,000 to the state Department of Transportation when the highway department didn’t have sufficient staff to use the additional state dollars.
The fiscal impact statement related to the two new “Grade Level G” equipment operator positions lists the annual wage and benefit costs totaling $121,666 at the “Step 1” level and increasing to $132,599 at Step 6.
When asked by Supervisor Bob Mott as to how much state revenue the county could generate with two additional employees whose annual wages and benefits total around $130,000, Bennett said he’d expect the county to be able to at least double that in state revenue.
Supervisor Scott Holewinski of Sugar Camp said the additional employees would also help boost morale in the highway department by having more people available to cover for those who would be on vacation.
Supervisors also approved the purchase of a new patrol truck for the highway department at a cost not to exceed $250,000. Freeman said the tandem-axle truck would be able to be used for both snow plowing and hauling asphalt. He also noted the county has 17 snow plow routes and plans to replace one truck per year.
A 40-acre parcel in the town of Lynne will become county forestland following board approval of purchasing the property for $63,000. County forest director John Bilogan said the privately-owned property that the county was able to purchase is surrounded by county forestland and has hardwood trees that he estimates would generate a minimum of $15,000 for the county in timber sales.
The resolution backed by the board calls for the county to purchase the land with money out of the general fund, though supervisors hope some of that cost could subsequently be covered by state grant money.
ASSISTANT FACILITIES DIRECTOR
Supervisors approved an increase in salary for the presently vacant assistant facilities director position to reflect the additional responsibilities for that job, which has expanded to include the building occupied by the Tri-County Human Service Center.
The “Grade Level K1” assistant facilities director position will now have an annual salary ranging from $47,065 at the “Step 1” level to $64,547 at Step 14. The action by the board increases the annual salary for that position by more than $3,000, according to the fiscal impact statement.