AUBURN — Cayuga County legislators accepted County Administrator Suzanne Sinclair's resignation Tuesday night.
According to the settlement agreement, "no reason shall be made publicly or privately for Ms. Sinclair's resignation. In general, the parties, including officers, employees or representatives thereof, may indicate that Ms. Sinclair is resigning for 'personal reasons.'"
The county Legislature's resolution stated that "it sometime happens that, over time, ruling bodies and chief administrators fall out of step." Legislators did not discuss the resolution in open meeting.
Sinclair has been on leave as of Feb. 3 and Cayuga County Attorney Fred Westphal said she will not return to work. According to the agreement, she will remain eligible for benefits through March 10, and the county will pay $80,384.60, the remainder of her slotted 2017 $95,000 salary in a lump sum by March 24. The payment, according to the agreement, is a "complete settlement of all existing, threatened and/or potential claims and disputes between and among the County and Ms. Sinclair concerning all issues relating to Ms. Sinclair and her employment with the County."
Legislators voted 11-2 to accept her resignation, with Legislators Tim Lattimore and Andy Dennison opposed and Legislator Paul Pinckney and Michael Didio absent.
To move forward, legislators also voted to hire a consultant to facilitate a discussion about the county administrator — whether the position is needed, and if so, what it should entail. Sinclair was the third person to hold the position. The cost to hire a consultant would have to be under $5,000 or the county would have to go out to bid, said county Legislature Chairman Keith Batman.
Legislator Tucker Whitman said he was concerned with the timing of the resolution. He wanted to know why it could not go through committee where more legislators could discuss it and have time to review. Batman said minority and majority leaders had been discussing the issue for weeks, and those leaders should have been updating their caucuses.
Legislators votes 11-2 to hire a consultant, with Whitman and Lattimore opposed.
In other news:
• Legislators passed a local law to establish a sustainable energy loan program in the county. Tracy Verrier, executive director of the Cayuga Economic Development Agency, told legislators during the public hearing on the law that the program would be "good for the economic development tool box."
Part of the state's Energize NY initiative, the program allows property owners to apply for loans through the Energy Improvement Corporation for different green energy projects. In order to participate in the program, the county had to pass a local law that does not allow revisions.
That was a concern for Kelly Anderson, director of Real Property Services, who told legislators the office currently cannot meet some of the requirements in the law involving collecting the loan payments. But Cayuga County Attorney Fred Westphal said he was optimistic that EFC would address those concerns in the contract. He said EFC had seemed open to the adjustments after the county sent its concerns with the law.
If EFC did not agree to the adjustments, the contract would not be signed and thus the program would not move forward. The county Legislature could then decide to repeal the local law if it wished.
"Good or bad, right or wrong, silly or not silly, this is the way it works," Batman said.
But some legislators still felt uneasy about not having those adjustments addressed in a contract before voting. The resolution did pass 9-4 with Legislators Terry Baxter, Joe Bennett, Dennison and Lattimore voting against.
• The Cayuga County Legislature proclaimed 2017 Year of the Woman, honoring Legislator Aileen McNabb-Coleman and Cayuga County Clerk Sue Dwyer with plaques. Several area women representing both past and present elected positions in the county attended the meeting, clapping for Dwyer and McNabb-Coleman.
McNabb-Coleman said while women have made great strides, more needs to be done. She said that can be seen looking out at the body before her, her chair the only one occupied by a female. Dwyer, who is the first and only woman elected to a county-wide office, said she was honored to accept the proclamation.