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Ray Bizzari

Cayuga County Director of Community Services Ray Bizzari 

AUBURN — The Cayuga County Department of Social Services gets between 1,300 and 1,450 child protection service complaints a year. Staff are required to respond to the child's home within 24 hours, and many times that means working weekends and evenings, said Ray Bizzari, the director of Community Services.

The department generated approximately 2,600 hours in overtime in 2015, and Bizzari told legislators at Wednesday night's Cayuga County Legislature Ways and Means Committee meeting that most of that stems from child protective work.

That's why he asked legislators at last month's committee meetings to approve a new part-time caseworker position in the child protective unit after a person with the qualifications became available and was willing to work as needed.

While the resolution passed through the Health and Human Services Committee, it was tabled at April's Ways and Means Committee meeting when legislators wanted more information about why the new position was needed and how it would be financed. 

Some of those questions were answered at Wednesday night's Ways and Means meeting, but legislators are still looking for more specifics on how the position will be funded for this month's full Legislature meeting.

Bizzari said he is hoping that by having someone work those evening and weekend hours at straight time rates and not the higher overtime wage, the county will save money.

"It may not affect the overall overtime hours the department pays because we don't control the number of child protective service complaints that come in, or when they come in," Bizzari told legislators. "But it could, in all honesty, it could reduce it, but it might not. But it would impact the hours that might have been worked."

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One suggestion from County Administrator Suzanne Sinclair was to create a budget transfer from the department's overtime account to a new straight time account to make sure the position is covered.  In 2015, the department budgeted $60,000 for overtime hours, and in 2016, it budgeted $70,000.

Lynn Marinelli, the budget director for Cayuga County, said she is working with Bizzari on a solution.

"We do have funding for it, so hopefully there'll be support for it," Marinelli said.

Most of the legislators at Wednesday night's meeting expressed general support for the idea. 

"I support the idea 150 percent," said Legislator Ben Vitale. "I just want to make sure that it's not adding to our overall cost, but we're justifying where it comes from."

Legislators are expected to amend the resolution and vote on it at the full Legislature meeting, 1 p.m. on May 24 at Emerson Park.

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Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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