Search committee formed to find next county administrator

The Cortland County Office Building at 60 Central Ave, Cortland, N.Y. (Source:

CORTLAND, N.Y. — At Thursday evening’s Cortland County Legislature meeting, board members approved a motion to establish a citizen’s advisory search committee for a county administrator.

County Legislators Joan Coombs (LD-17), Linda Jones (LD-9), Kelly Fairchild-Preston (LD-10), and George Wagner (LD-15) voted against the formation of a search committee.

County Legislators Beau Harbin (LD-2), Paul Heider (LD-16), Ann Homer (LD-7), Chris Newell (LD-11), Michael Barylski (LD-12), George Wagner (LD-15), and Kevin Whitney (LD-13) will comprise the committee.

Legislator Harbin has been vocal at past county legislature meetings about his desire to find the “best candidate, not just any candidate, to lead [the] county.” Harbin stated during a county legislature meeting in October. Cortland County’s budget exceeds $135 million and the county needs someone with a high level of experience, he added.

Legislator Homer shares Harbin’s concerns and has expressed her own disappointment in the past concerning the hiring process.

The position, which hasn’t been filled for four years, is the chief administrative head and budget officer of the county. County Legislator Kevin Whitney (LD-13), who was elected chairperson in October, will be acting county administrator, with no additional compensation, until the position is filled.

The full-time position—which carries an annual salary of $100,000—was posted online in June, and not for a lack of trying, the county has yet to approve a candidate. In October, county lawmakers failed to appoint Daniel Deager—even after a unanimous recommendation during a joint session of the Legislature’s Personnel and Budget Finance committees—with a 9-8 vote against the nominee.

County Legislators also voted unanimously to adopt revision of Local Law No. 7 of 2002 that established the Office of County Administrator for the County of Cortland. The amendment would add wording to Section 3, paragraph “A” of the local law: “The office of the County Administrator shall be up to four years, from and including, the first day of January. Successors shall be appointed for terms up to four years each.”

The proposed amendment was brought to the Clerk of the Legislature, Eric Mulvihill, by the Cortland County Attorney, Karen Howe. Legislator Harbin said the proposed amendment is “just to clarify the language” of the local law.