Interviews for County Planning Director position start next week

(Photo via Cortland County).

Cortland County legislators plan to host a meeting of the Agriculture, Planning and Environmental (AP&E) committee prior to the County Legislature meeting on March 23 if they feel they have found a candidate for the position of planning director. 

The county’s director of planning position has been vacant since last fall. Legislators have tweaked the responsibilities and salary of the position in the last month to hopefully attract candidates to the vacant role, which so far had gathered little interest from applicants.

“We have had applications for the planning director position. We are doing interviews within the next week on this,” Legislative Minority Leader Beau Harbin (D-LD-2) said Thursday. “I anticipate we will likely have a candidate to bring forward, so I would like us to have a special meeting of the AP&E committee ahead of the legislative session to address the potential hiring of a candidate.”

The interview committee for the prospective director of planning consists of Harbin, county administrator Rob Corpora, county personnel officer Laurie Leonard, and Legislature chair Kevin Fitch, (R-LD-8).

“We’re just trying to move forward quickly to go through the interviews and try to report a name,” Harbin said.

Perhaps too quickly for some other legislators.

“We just approved the position. We just approved the new specs on the job. Why aren't we waiting a little longer to try and get more applicants?,” said legislator Paul Heider (R-LD-16). “I have no idea who is applying. Why are we only waiting one or two weeks?”

The new planning director would come with added responsibilities focused on economic development, as well as a salary that is anywhere from $91,771 to $122,148 based on experience. This would bump the position from a grade 5 to a grade 3 role. As a grade 5 position, the salary range for the role was anywhere between $79,412 to $105,698, based on experience. Other department heads sit in grade 3.

The new description for the position includes the following revisions, based on a copy found on the meeting’s agenda:

  • (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, the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and more.
  • 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.

Harbin responded, noting that the position is still open for candidates to apply.

“We just have candidates who want to do an interview,” he said. “I'm hopeful we'll have a nominee, but if we don't, then we won’t have the meeting. But I'm just trying to be proactive, because it's a position that sat vacant for so long.”

Heider said his concern is that the new requirements and perks of the position may not have been advertised for a sensible period of time.

County Administrator Rob Corpora said the county has advertised the position through conventional means.

“It has been released to the regional planning boards of Central New York and Southern Tier,” Corpora said. “It's been on Indeed, it's been advertised on all the normal routes. Personnel did pay for the expanded Indeed search, which puts ours up at the top of the list.”