CANTON — St. Lawrence County’s policy of not automatically filling vacant county jobs saved the county nearly $1.3 million over the past 12 months, according to information provided to county legislators during their Finance Committee meeting last week.
County Administrator Ruth A. Doyle said the county’s policy for filling vacancies saved $1,298,028 between August 2018 and this August.
In 2015, the county Legislature adopted a resolution that calls for leaving jobs vacant for 60 days when possible.
A previous resolution adopted in 2008 called for a 30-day wait.
Each open job is reviewed by a five-member vacancy review committee. Two legislators serve on the committee on a rotating basis.
Finance Committee Chairman Kevin D. Acres, R-Madrid, said the vacancy policy is one reason the county’s financial picture is much brighter than it was four years ago when the county had a $3 million deficit.
The county’s unrestricted fund balance is now between $21 million and $22 million, he said.
“It’s working and working very well,” Mr. Acres said. “It’s asking department heads to really scrutinize and see if they can be creative and do things a different way.”
The review committee has different options. It can recommend the job not be filled for 60 days, limit the wait to 30 days, fill the job immediately or not fill the job at all. Recommendations are forwarded to the full board, which has the final say on whether jobs are filled.
During the past year, 168 jobs were reviewed, with 59.5 percent filled immediately. Another 16.7 percent were filled within 60 days and 14.29 percent were filled within 30 days. There were 1.79 percent denied.
Mrs. Doyle said 20 positions were abolished and replaced with a newly-created position.
She asked legislators to reinstate a back fill hiring process for the county Highway Department that allows a vacant position to be filled by automatically promoting people within the department. The existing Civil Service Employees Association contract allows this only for highway employees,.
Mrs. Doyle asked the board to consider allowing her to authorize the filling of positions that are 100 percent funded by the state or other sources. If the grant funding were removed or revised, the board of legislators would get to reconsider the job.
Any new positions, even if fully funded, would go through the vacancy authorization process.