Cortland Common Council approves new position in admin and finance department

(Photo Source: Stephen Yang of The Cortland Voice).

The City of Cortland Common Council approved abolishing the payroll clerk position and creating the payroll/benefits manager role within the department of administration and finance at Tuesday’s meeting.

Councilperson Mary Clare Pennello (D-3rd Ward) noted an individual in the original payroll clerk position resigned and took another job elsewhere. 

The now-abolished payroll clerk role handled “numerous activities in support of city personnel,” including “payroll, management of health insurance and benefits programs, compliance with civil service requirements and contractual obligations, data and record keeping, and reporting,” as noted in the resolution.

The newly-formed payroll/benefit manager position, detail in the resolution, will involve “administrative responsibility for personnel management functions which include processing of payroll and related activities; serving as the primary contact for benefits-related questions and working directly with benefits providers regarding enrollment, claims and payment transactions;

coordinating with Cortland County Personnel/Civil Service Department, department heads and appointing authorities to ensure that posting for and hiring of vacant positions are done in accordance with civil service laws and regulations.”

A breakdown of the resolution can be seen under the third agenda item for Tuesday’s meeting.

The newly-created role will be performed under the direction of, and answer to, the director of administration and finance. The admin and finance director position is one the city is currently conducting an interview and hiring timeline for to find the right candidate.

Councilperson Seth Thompson (D-5th Ward) wondered if the city is adding value to the payroll/benefits manager position, and potentially taking away or adding from county or city-level roles, noting the relationship between the city and Cortland County in terms of personnel duties and issues.

City corporation counsel AJ Meldrim said the newly-created role will not take away from other positions.

“This is a good opportunity to address some of the issues the city faces. We don’t have that traditional personnel department because we have that relationship with the county, and that (relationship) is the plan continuing forward,” Meldrim said. “This is a chance to make this role clearer.”

Meldrim mentioned the county civil service department signed off on the new managerial-level position, a role that is outside of the union.

“The individual who does payroll deals with incredibly sensitive information,” Meldrim said. “We need some sort of personnel, so we’ll create this role within the city.”

Details on the salary, the hiring process and more on the payroll/benefits manager position will go through the city’s personnel committee before going to the Common Council for approval. 

City deputy mayor Tom Michales is hoping those details will be provided at the council's next meeting in March.