County discusses waiving residency requirement for public defender’s office positions

(Photo via Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

Cortland County Legislators will look to recommend the full legislature to allow job applicants from outside the county to vie for positions at the public defender’s office.

The measure, in the form of a local law, comes after county officials have had trouble hiring people locally. The local law was discussed at the county’s judiciary and public safety committee meeting on Thursday.

“We've done this for other departments and now we're also saying we need to look at attorneys and if we are going to require them to be a resident,” said Legislator Kelly Preston, LD-10. “We would love that, but just like every other department, we’re not getting the pool (of applicants) that we would like.”

Legislator Susan Wilson (D-LD-5) said she is in favor of the proposed local law and has been in favor of other similar measures. The county waived residency requirements for applicants aiming for the county planning director position earlier this year.

“You’re talking about lawyers, so you're talking about a small sample size in terms of folks that are looking for a job,” Wilson said. “Then you’re talking about an even smaller chance of having one of those folks live in Cortland or be willing to move to Cortland.”

Legislators will vote at the government operations committee meeting on Sept. 19 to recommend the measure to the entire legislature. The measure could bring forth a public hearing on the local law at the legislative session on Sept. 28.