WAMPSVILLE — Madison County Administrator Mark Scimone gave his 2020 report on the State of the County, touching on all of Madison County’s accomplishments and strides.
Last year, the State of the County was given by Madison County Chairman John Becker. “This year, you’ll get an even more detailed report,” the chairman said. Scimone went through, department by department.
Board of Elections
The Board of elections tackled the implementation of the election reform legislation which included early voting, sameday party changes, a combined primary election day in June and processing voter registration transfers automatically from other New York state counties.
Early voting was held for the first time in state history. In Madison County, early voting was open for nine days and held in the Wampsville office with all new electronic poll books. During that time, the department processed 636 voters and updated poll pads on the last day.
The staff is ready to tackle the big upcoming 2020 presidential election year.
The office enthusiastically worked with several departments to help facilitate the Reimagine the Canals project and upcoming highway garage facility.
The office also worked on the Mortgage Recording Tax and Wireless Surcharge legislation with our state representatives to assist in increasing county revenue.
The department received accreditation from the New York State Emergency Association. Madison County is the sixth county to receive such an honor.
In 2019, the Fire Training Center Construction was completed. Scimone said the facility is great not only for first responders and volunteers but also utilized by Madison County for meetings and training.
The department saw some changes in leadership. A few weeks ago, Ted Halpin retired and was succeeded by Dan Degear. John Barattini was named as the Madison County EMS Coordinator’s Association Presidents.
The department completed road rehabilitation projects on 12 roads totaling 28 miles. The work included cold in-place recycling, hot mix paving, mill and fill paving, and associated shoulder, ditch and tree work. The department also replaced seven large culverts, one bridge superstructure, and dozens of small-sized culverts. The maintenance crew completed nearly 60 miles of crack seal and chip seal on county roads.
The Madison County Highway Department also shared equipment and personnel with every township in the county, helping each one complete their work for the season. One of these shared services projects was with the town of Lenox to complete a $1 million multi-use trail on the former railroad bed between the village of Wampsville and Canastota. The project was a 2019 APWA award-winning project and the largest federally funded project that was self-performed within NYSDOT Region two.
A new location for the Morrisville Highway Facility was determined and staff began the process of site construction for a new highway facility for the Morrisville Operations. Several acres of trees and brush were removed to prepare for site work.
All buildings on the main campus are now equipped with access controls on exterior doors to enhance security.
Additional access controls to better secure individual departments were also installed in many departments campus-wide and 122 security cameras have been installed inside and out to date.
IT also completed fiber installation between the main campus and the new Fire Training Center, the CAC, and Solid Waste. this not only allows for increased network security, but additional security features such as cameras can now be added.
Mental Health Department
The Department underwent a vast and successful renovation which included a new entryway, new reception area, new waiting room and a new children’s waiting room. Security doors were installed to prevent unauthorized access to the department, and offices.
Open access hours were extended to better serve the community and potential clients. They previously had scheduled hours; now they welcome walk-ins and accommodate intake appointments from new clients.
The staff successfully negotiated and ratified four-year successor agreements with the White Collar bargaining unit and Teamsters bargaining unit.
The department is in the testing phase working towards the ability to accept employment applications online.
Last year, the Personnel Department administered 43 civil service examinations to 140 candidates and provided orientations to 55 new employees.
In the continuation of a unique and far-reaching project from 2018, Madison County celebrated the grand opening of Delphi Falls County Park in Aug. 2019 by honoring Harold and Barbara Jones for their generous donation. Scimone said this project highlights the collaboration and cooperation of a number of County Departments. Officials at the Planning Department said they look forward to implementing grant-funded improvements including trails in 2020 and beyond.
In 2019, Workforce Development saw the expansion of services and programming at the Career Center with the addition of the Madison-Oneida BOCES High School Equivalency Program moving into the Career Center. It has been a very positive partnership. Additionally, the Career Center has been instrumental with Green Empire Farms meeting their hiring needs.
The Probation Department was faced with preparing for implementations of legislative changes significantly impacting probation, including the inclusion of 17-year-olds in Raise the Age; PINS reform; juvenile delinquency adjustment changes; and bail reform.
The Probation Department collected over $13,000 in DWI supervision fees and over $103,000 in restitution to reimburse victims.
The department supervised an average daily population of more than 300 probationers.
Public Health Department
The Public Health Department collaborated with Oneida Health and Community Memorial Hospital to complete the 2019-2021 Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan. Substance abuse and lung cancer were identified as the priority health issues in the community and the department has set forth an action plan to carry out and address these issues.
The Department launched a healthy workforce initiative that included a successful conference held in Oct. 2019 at the White Eagle Conference Center were over 75 attendees representing various local employers received practical information from experts on improving both the health of workers and businesses.
Madison County Health Department became the first county health department in the country to become an affiliate of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s Total Worker Health Program, and the department’s healthy workforce initiative was featured by NUOSH in their national newsletter as a promising practice for worker health.
Department of Social Services
Child and Family Services was able to hand the increase in caseloads that were a result of the implementation of Raise the Age. The department did not see additional foster care or a higher level of placements due to the new law. The Department of Social Services submitted its first Homeless Services Plan as required by New York State. The plan is intended to help reduce homelessness and incorporates the Code Blue requirements. It will serve as a baseline of activities that are occurring in Madison County to address education, outreach, prevention, and actual housing services.
The Mobile Work Crew Leader coordinated and completed many projects throughout Madison County, including the construction of a pavilion at the Lenox Rail Trail. Other notable projects include the installation of a firewall at the Landfill Morton Building, as well as installing a new floor, pouring concrete and remodeling pavilions at Chapman Park, and roof repairs at Sullivan Park.
The Youth Bureau partnered with Madison-Oneida BOCES to offer the New Visions Law, Government and Public Administration program. The partnership expanded what was once a nine-session program with one day of job shadowing to a full school year program with an extended internship experience within the Madison County government. The program offers its students the opportunity to earn nine college credits.
Solid Waste Department
The Department launched a new recycling campaign to “Rethink Waste”, which included a new website, a “How do I recycle/dispose of...” search tool, and updated resources. The Department is now using these materials to engage and educate residents, schools, and local community groups.
All transfer stations were updated with the new department branding and program information.
Sections of the Hamilton and Cazenovia Transfer Stations were paved for the first time in 20 years.
New laterals were installed in cell 8 for landfill gas collection. There was more than a 20% increase in gas collection over the past year.
Veterans Service Agency
The Agency provided veterans services to approximately 5,500 living veterans and surviving families throughout the County during 2019, resulting in an increase of 20% in client contacts form 2018 to 2019.
The Agency hired on two new counselors who underwent several months of training and accreditation by the American Legion. Don Smith retired and was succeeded by Ron Raymer as director in May.
Together, the team has developed a mobile office for in-home services throughout Madison County, allowing the Veterans Service Agency to get to veterans in the southern part of the county and to those who have difficulty traveling. The staff has increased its presence and outreach by attending more events and teaming up with additional agencies in the area.
When it comes to capital projects, Scimone said he could talk all day, listing all the projects the Facilities Department completed work in 2019. From the construction of new rooms in the DSS building to the $18 million renovation of the courthouse, the Facilities Department completed dozens of major projects and improvements through 2019.
In 2019, an employee engagement survey was sent out to all Madison County employees, as well as surveys to taxpayers in the community who use services in the county. 98% of people rated Madison County a nine or a 10 who used their services; over 98% of taxpayers believe they find value in the tax payments, and 74% of employees were engaged.
Scimone said Madison County will continue to focus and expand on customer satisfaction and employee engagement, implementing suggestions, increasing community and employee community, and strive for more outreach.
“Thank you to our department heads, employees and Board of Supervisors for making Madison County one of the best counties in New York state to live, work, and play.