County lawmakers plan to approve 37 CPS hires next week

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Erie County lawmakers are planning to approve the hiring of 37 new Child Protective Service workers next week, but it won’t come without some political wrangling.

During Thursday’s regular session of the Erie County legislature, the new Majority sent the plan to the Health & Human Services Committee for more review next week. The 37 jobs would include 18 new case workers and a dozen CPS investigators.

Legislature Chairman John Mills says lawmakers are all for adding those positions.

“We have a lot of questions as to how we go forward, because last fall we approved some positions that was supposed to take care of the problems we have in CPS. It did not.”

The Majority caucus members insist they need more answers from Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer, but County Executive Mark Poloncarz is skeptical.

“How difficult is it to pick up the phone? How difficult is it in today’s day in age to send an email?” he questioned.

The county executive says he even had a pre-planned a working lunch with some Majority caucus members Thursday afternoon, and answered their questions.

The Majority seems to want the Social Services Commissioner to answer questions publicly one more time next Thursday at a meeting of the Health & Human Services Committee. The Majority did make a point of simply recessing this regular session so that it can resume on June 19, in time to approve the new positions by the first of July.

“I would’ve liked to have seen it passed today,” said Democratic Legislator Patrick Burke. “I am pleased at least we’re going to have a special session next week, so they have another week to ask the questions they need and then we’ll go directly into special session to approve this.”

Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant was hoping for passage.

She said, “And I’m hoping and praying that nothing happens that could’ve been addressed had we moved in a more timely fashion.”

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