October 25, 2021

County meets with consulting company

The legislators put their masks up, grabbed their stickers and headed for the three boards in the front of the Cortland County Legislature Chambers. They took turns placing four stickers under areas where they would like the county to be successful.

The activity was one of two Thursday evening as part of the legislators’ first discussion as a whole with Florida-based Transpro Consulting, which the county hired in April for $127,000. The company was hired to help revamp Cortland County government to save money and reach other goals.

“We take the view of building organization success as it’s no different than building a building, that you have to build a strong foundation and then from that foundation you can determine, you know, what the 2-by-4s look like and where do you run your HVAC and how many bathrooms should it have,” said Mark Aesch, Transpro’s CEO.

Part of building that foundation included figuring out what is important to the legislature.

Aesch presented four main goals, each with smaller goals: money; customer service; employee engagement; and efficiency and effectiveness.

Some legislators like Beau Harbin (D-Cortland) added others, including the “renewability and sustainability from an environmental impact from the choices that we make as a county.”

Others, like Richard Stock (D-Cortland), focused on money.

“You’ve got to have money and income,” he said. “That’s the most important thing you’ve got to figure out — what you’ve got coming in to work with.”

After legislators placed their four stickers on their top goals, many picked balancing a budget and keeping taxes low, followed by residents seeing a value in services and making sure employees are evaluated for their performances and engaged in work.

The second discussion focused on figuring out what area the county wants to be the best at, compared to other counties.

“There are 3,300 counties in the United States, at what lists do we want Cortland County to be at the top of?” Aesch asked.

Aesch asked legislators to think about in four years looking back what they would say the county was the best at.

Joe Nauseef (R-Cortlandville) said he would like to be the best at fiscal responsibility.

“Working and doing our services and the functioning of the county at the best level we can within our means,” he said.

Cathy Bischoff (D-Cortland) said she wants the county to have the best data analysis system.

“So regardless of what the goal is that we have the ability to truly, completely and accurately measure where we are because if we aren’t able to do that, it doesn’t matter what values we set,” she said.

Kevin Fitch (R-Homer, Preble, Scott) said he wanted to see a more business friendly county.

Most legislators picked making the county the most affordable in the state, along with seeing more growth in businesses.

The conversation ended on having legislators think on what results they want to see from the county administrator.

“You define what success looks like, the county administrator is charged with how to go about making that happen and who are the players on the field to help make that happen for you,” Aesch said.

Aesch said the administrator must have an objective evaluation like the county asking for customer satisfaction to increase by 5%.

“I would like to see an employee engagement score — given it’s the first year — let’s say 50%,” Harbin said. “What is the perception of our employees in their engagement?”

He also said he would like to see a metric for the county administrator on growth and development.

“For example, has he completed at least one outside training to move them forward,” he said. “We need our administrator to grow year over year just like anybody else.”

He also wanted to see the county administrator push forward on certifications like the Climate Smart Communities, suggesting he makes sure 25% more of the certification gets done during a year.