January 18, 2022

2 hopefuls for county consultant

Cortland County Seal

The search for a consulting agency to help revamp Cortland County government over the next few years to save money and reach other goals has been narrowed down to two companies.

Legislators on the Budget and Finance Committee had a special meeting Friday where they discussed the two companies — CGR of Rochester and Transpro of Tampa, Florida.

The county received six proposals after sending out a request for proposals last month. County Administrator Rob Corpora ranked the six companies, eventually narrowing it to two.

Of the other four companies, which he did not name, one had no county projects.

“They’ve had a couple of cities and that’s about it,” he said.

Two were engineering and architectural firms.

“We use firms just like this for the courthouse project and other things and they didn’t seem to have large experience in doing what we asked,” Corpora said.

The fourth is based in Texas and had only two employees.

“They had no experience in New York state,” he said.

The legislators, minus Sandra Price (D-Harford, Virgil) who was absent, agreed CGR and Transpro were the better options. Neither company is unfamiliar to the county.

In January, Mark Aesch, the CEO of Transpro, gave a presentation to the Legislature and department heads about what he could do for the county. Transpro has worked with Broome and Madison counties, saving Broome County $450,000.

CGR did a jail study for Tompkins County in 2017 and gave a presentation to the Legislature in March 2018 related to the Cortland County Jail.

Transpro said it could work with the county for the first phase for $127,500 as a baseline number and additional $25,000 would be required for other services. CGR said it could work with the county for $169,000.

Legislator Cathy Bischoff (DCortland) said the two companies offered different proposals.

“Transpro is spending a lot of their time on organizational assessment, where CGR is more invested on leadership development, which surprised me,” she said. “So you really have to look where they’re putting their focus in terms of their money allocations.”

She also said she was concerned over how much CGR said it could achieve.

“Of all of the proposals it was probably the best in terms of how it was prepared, written,” she said. “I think they were unrealistic in terms of what they could really give us that we could actually work on.”

Legislator Kelly Preston (RHomer) was concerned over how much time people from either company would spend in person in the county and said she wanted to meet the team members who would be working with the county before making a decision.

Corpora said he will contact the companies to schedule a time to present details and answer legislators’ questions — possibly on the same day.

No matter what company the county goes with, Legislator Beau Harbin said it falls to the client — in this case the county and its departments — to make sure they are open and willing to work with the company.

“It’s really a question for us as to are we going to be able to, through Rob, make sure everyone is engaged to get it done in the eight-month time frame,” he said.

A big concern is how employees will respond to the company. Corpora said morale is not good.

“Right now, people are being asked to cut their budget further, possibly programs and everything else and then they see $100,000 being spent,” he said. “How many consultants has the county hired over the years to look at different things and we don’t do what they say?”

“And shame on us,” Bischoff said.

“It’s like the boy who cried wolf,” Corpora said.