Cortland County approves salary raise for vacant department head position

Cortland County office building. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith/Cortland Voice)

Cortland County’s next planning director will be entering the county workforce at a different salary grade, after legislators voted at their Thursday session to bump up the pay for the vacant position.

Previously, the position was part of grade five in the county’s management compensation salary structure. That grade had a salary window between $79,412 and $105,698 depending on experience. The starting pay at grade three, which was a move approved via a 12-4 vote at Thursday’s county legislature meeting, will now be $91,771. That figure can move up to $122,148 based on experience.

The county has not had a permanent director of planning since last fall, when former director Trisha Jesset resigned in October.

“We will be working on the entire management compensation plan this year as we know there is an overall issue with our salaries for that group,” said Legislative Minority Leader Beau Harbin (D-LD-2). “We cannot continue to wait for openings to address them individually but need to take this on as a whole. We owe this to all our department heads and other staff in these positions and also to our residents.”

The resolution, under agenda item No. 18, also included changes to the position’s job description. The new description for the position includes the following revisions, based on a copy found on the county’s agenda center.

  • (The planning director) guides the preparation of feasibility studies and statistical analysis for planning reports, including supervision of consultant documents.
  • Recommends economic development projects for consideration by the director and respective organizations, including the Legislature and the Industrial Development Agency (IDA). (e.g. IDA, Legislature, etc.).
  • Participates in regional, state and federal planning activities, including review of new planning and environmental legislation.
  • Assesses infrastructure needs in the county, recommends solutions to resolve them and implement projects.
  • Applies for grant and loan funds to accomplish the mission of the department.
  • Works with and is the liaison to other economic and development agencies in the county.

“The planning director change has allowed us to update the job description, expand the roles and responsibilities of the job and to get us back into the field for potential candidates,” Harbin said. “We are competing heavily with other counties for this highly professional role. I am very hopeful now we can move forward, find the right candidate and help rebuild this key department.”