Counties’ shared dept. head on hold

JOHNSTOWN – Officials from Fulton and Montgomery counties will wait until 2014 before possibly combining the counties’ director of community services positions because of the latter county’s evolving government structure.

Fulton County Director of Community Services Ernest Gagnon gave an update on the personnel issue to his Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Committee last week.

“I met twice with the Montgomery County Community Services Board,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon said the Fulton County Community Services Board has already approved pursuing a joint director of community services.

However, he said the Montgomery County board is “very concerned” about passing the idea and then having a new county executive shoot it down.

“They would like to delay it one year,” Gagnon said.

He said Montgomery County officials decided to pursue the proposal after that county’s change in government from a non-charter Board of Supervisors model to a charter county executive model on Jan. 1.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said the new Montgomery County Executive might be concerned about an entirely new department and new department head.

Both counties’ governments employ their own director of community services. They are Gagnon for Fulton County and James Gumaer, Montgomery County’s most recent director. Gumaer is retired, but working part-time in Montgomery County. The state requires counties to have a director of community services position in place and filled.

Each county also has a volunteer community services board in place, which Gagnon and Gurnaer closely work with as liaisons. Those boards oversee the various counseling agencies in each county.

But there has been talk in recent years of combining the two director of community positions. Gagnon used to be director of the Fulton County Mental Health Department. But that department basically ceased to exist after the county shut down its two Gloversville-based mental health clinics in the beginning of 2012. The clinics were taken over by St. Mary’s Healthcare.