Scattered clouds
Scattered clouds
33.8 °F
December 08, 2016
River Reporter Facebook pageTRR TwitterRSS Search

Two Sullivan legislators call for county manager's ouster

By Fritz Mayer
December 17, 2012

At a surprise press conference at the government center in Monticello on December 17, legislators Gene Benson and Cora Edwards called on their fellow legislators not to renew the contract of county manager David Fanslau when it expires at the end of the month.

The two accused Fanslau of a litany of shortcomings, including withholding information from legislators, or distorting it.

Edwards complained that since the budget process began back in June, she has been trying to receive information about how the approximately $10 million paid to outside contractors is spent and has not been able to get that information.

The statement said, "David Fanslau is being paid a salary of $145,633 to manage Sullivan County and he has not lived up to our expectations. We must wipe the slate clean and give a new professional a chance to manage Sullivan County. David Fanslau has had more than enough time to turn Sullivan County around."

Asked if the seven other lawmakers would support the move, Edwards said they may not know the answer to that question until the hands are raised for a vote.

Benson said if the contract is not renewed, other members of county staff could keep the county running smoothly while a replacement is sought.

Fanslau did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Statement from Sullivan County Legislators Gene Benson and Cora Edwards

December 17, 2012

This legislature was elected last year on the basis of making significant and positive, productive change in the way Sullivan County conducts its business for its taxpayers and residents.

Over the past year, we have given County Manager David Fanslau every opportunity to provide this legislature with proper information and direction so we can lead.

It is no secret that Sullivan County is in a worse financial condition today than it was a year ago, and David Fanslau must be held accountable.

We can no longer accept the argument that mandates are the reason Sullivan County is in this financial catastrophe.

David Fanslau has done very little to change the way Sullivan County is managed and conducts its business. It is time the legislature looks for someone else to manage this county.

We have repeatedly requested – as part of our fiduciary responsibility – information pertaining to the affairs of this county.

And although, Mr. Fanslau’s appearance seems to have changed from the previous legislature, in reality we have not been able to carry out our promises to the electorate because vital information has continually been withheld from this legislature or been distorted. This makes budgetary decisions for the legislature almost impossible.

It’s embarrassing to all of us that David Fanslau claimed in his tentative 2013 budget released on November 1 to have saved property owners from a 39% tax increase and instead delivered to us a 13.77% increase, now only to suddenly find the tax increase can be further reduced.

If David Fanslau did his job, these figures would have been corrected when he submitted his budget just a few short weeks ago. This unmistakably demonstrates why his contract should not be renewed.

Although Mr. Fanslau claims to receive direction from the legislature, in fact, how can we give Mr. Fanslau direction when the information he provides us is flawed and inaccurate at its best.

There have been countless opportunities where taxpayer’s money could have been saved.

For example:

Over time, charges for HEAP employees were $200,000 over the budget in 2011.

More appropriations are being spent on computers than critical public infrastructure, such as bridges.

There is a lack of transparency when it comes to external contracts. Members of the legislature have been requesting information about this for months.

Since we have taken office, through the efforts of legislators and not the county manager, vendors have come forward to give retroactive discounts on external contracts in areas such as transportation and pharmaceuticals.

Under David Fanslau’s leadership, Medicaid taxi fares have cost this county over $2.5 million, in additional taxi cab rides for welfare-to-work programs. Mr. Fanslau did not even investigate if it would be cost effective to bring transportation services back into the county fold.

Taxpayers have paid $1.8 million in cost avoidance for foster care.

I ask: as county manager, what has David Fanslau done to market Sullivan County to bring us economic development?

County management is making it impossible to do the job we were elected to do.

Many department heads have stated that the newly-elected legislators have spent more time in their departments than the county manager has in his entire term. Legislators have been repeatedly chastised for having direct conversations with county staff.

As a government, we can no longer afford to continue to operate with information disclosed at the last minute, and a rabbit pulled out of the hat every time, to save the day.

David Fanslau is being paid a salary of $145,633 to manage Sullivan County and he has not lived up to our expectations.

We must wipe the slate clean and give a new professional a chance to manage Sullivan County. David Fanslau has had more than enough time to turn Sullivan County around.

We are calling on our fellow legislators to join us in a bipartisan effort not to support David Fanslau’s contract renewal when it expires on December 31, 2012. We are also calling for an immediate search committee to be put into place to find a new county manager.

We must bring a new level of accountability and transparency to our budget process and make the best use of taxpayer’s money.