The Putnam Examiner

New County Consumer Affairs Director Tabbed by Odell

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Following the resignation of the past Consumer Affairs director who was caught stealing county funds, the county has named a replacement after a four month search.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell recommended legislators approve Michael Budzinski as the new director of Consumer Affairs/Weights and Measures, as revealed at last Wednesday’s Personnel Committee meeting. Budzinski actually works for the county in the health department, currently as director of engineering and would fill the shoes of former director Jean Noel, who resigned as part of a plea agreement with the New York Attorney General’s Office for taking county funds.

Budzinski would continue in his current position in the health department and earn another $20,000 annually to take on the additional role, according to a letter penned by Odell. He’s been with the county for 34 years.

During the meeting, Personnel Director Paul Eldridge called Budzinski a “top-notch” employee. In hopes of reducing the pay for the position, Eldridge was asked to search within the county for possible replacements. Eldridge said Budzinski “qualifies fully” for the job and the NYS Department is pleased that someone is filling that role.

Since the shake-up with Noel’s forced departure, Eldridge said the office is “actually functioning pretty well right now” with a couple of employees stepping up. In his added role, Budzinski would spend about 25 percent of his time with consumer affairs and his current position’s responsibilities would not be diminished, even if it meant putting in extra hours, Eldridge said.

Legislature Chairwoman Ginny Nacerino noted the substantial savings for the county, considering the position was advertised for at least $80,000 per year.

Legislator Kevin Wright, who has known Budzinski for many years, attested that he is well qualified for the director’s role. Legislator Carl Albano added Budzinski works well when facing a time crunch and gets the job done in a timely manner.

Legislator Dini LoBue questioned why the position needed to be full-time when Noel was in charge, but is now only requires part-time work.

“I think there needs to be somebody there, permanently, full-time,” LoBue said, even though she respected the employee selected. “So I won’t support it.”

Eldridge said talking to the staff on a regular basis, he said the their feedback is with a little direction, the office believes they can handle the workload without a full-time director to oversee everything.

The second in command, the weights and measure inspector, has been the “de facto” leader of the department, who is on the receiving end of calls when New York State has questions, Eldridge said.

“Facing the tax cap situation, were probably going to be looking at more situations like this where we’ll need to consolidate, save and so forth,” Eldridge said.

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