October 26, 2021

County Legislature names interim health chief

Cortland County Seal

Lisa Perfetti will take over as Cortland County’s interim health director, following the retirement of Director Catherine Feuerherm on May 23.

Cortland County legislators voted Thursday, 13-3, to hire Perfetti, now the director of community health services, to serve as interim director from May 23 until Aug. 23 or until a new director is hired. Legislators Linda Jones (RHomer), Kelly Preston (R-Homer) and Joe Nauseef (R-Cortlandville) voted no.

Preston said she voted against the resolution, not because she didn’t like the candidate, but because she didn’t like the approved amendment to change the position to Step 2 in classification, which pays 4% more than someone starting at Step 1, according to the county’s employment policy manual for department heads, management employees and management/confidential workers.

That would be $87,200.

“Ms. Perfetti will do a fine job,” Preston said. “I do object to the Grade 2. I believe it should be Grade 1 Step 1.”

Legislator Ann Homer (D-Cortland) recused herself from the vote because she works at the Family Health Network, where Perfetti has been a board member since 2010.

Perfetti has served as the county’s director of community health services since January 2017. Before that she worked for HCR Home Care for 5* years. She attended Capella University, where she got her bachelor of science in nursing, followed by two years at Tompkins Cortland Community College, where she got an associate’s degree and became a registered nurse. Perfetti has also been a board member for Access to Independence since October 2016.

The Legislature did not vote on establishing the position of temporary public health adviser because Budget and Finance Committee Chairman George Wagner (R-Marathon, Lapeer) pulled the resolution and referred it to the Health and Human Services Committee to discuss in June.

“I want all of our legislators to understand the candidate in mind is retiring at the end of this month and we might lose the opportunity to bring this resolution forward next month and I’d be disappointed if we lost that,” said Legislature Chairman Paul Heider (R-Cuyler, Solon, Truxton).

Legislator Sandra Price (D-Harford, Virgil) asked whether Heider would entertain a motion to allow her to sponsor the resolution, rather than Wagner.

“I see this position as critical to Cortland County as Dr. (Anthony) Fauci is to our country,” Price said.

However, Homer said she believed allowing Price to take up the resolution violated the legislature’s rules of order.

Heider said he wouldn’t allow the move, even though he believed it was an important resolution.

“I’m sorry. I’m with you, Sandy,” Heider said. “But I can’t do it.”

Resuming regular meetings

Cortland County committee meetings are expected to resume at their regular times in June, said Eric Mulvihill, the clerk of the Legislature.

The county voted unanimously in April to allow for only a Budget and Finance Committee meeting to commence, followed by a special Legislature meeting two days later in order to take care of county operations while in the middle of the coronavirus.

However, with businesses opening today, the county expects to go back to regularly scheduled meetings, the first of which would take place June 9.

Mulvihill said the county plans a mix of both in-person and web attendance.