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Chemung County Legislature stonewalled by county executive on government software system

Multiple Chemung County Legislature committees meet consecutively on March 4
Natalie Abruzzo
Multiple Chemung County Legislature committees meet consecutively on March 4.

The Chemung County government is embroiled in a dispute over its 15-year-old software system used to process requests for legislative actions.

The county’s two branches of government, executive and legislative, cannot agree on the internal workflow system used to conduct government business.

It is the purview of the Chemung County Legislature to adopt and implement a system to process legislative resolutions and meeting agenda items, including which software it uses to do county business. This process in the county is called a “route slip” system.

A “route slip” is a communication tool that provides the Chemung County Legislature with the needs of each county department to conduct day-to-day activities for the county—both contractual and financial.

Chemung County originally coordinated its route slip system through interpersonal mail. It went from paper route slips to digital ones in 2009. It has used the digital software NovusAGENDA system for 15 years.

The chair of the legislature, Mark Margeson, said the county executive began using a new software system at the beginning of the year to process route slips without consultation or inclusion of the legislature.

The software adopted by County Executive Christopher Moss is Peak Agenda Management. Its parent company, Granicus owns NovusAGENDA. However, according to Margeson, Peak is incompatible with the current legislative software because NovusAGENDA will cease to exist this year.

Therefore, Margeson asked Moss to continue using NovusAGENDA until the legislature can adopt a new software system.

Margeson said the county executive refused to work within the parameters of the legislature.

“I’ve tried my best to manage this relationship between the county executive and myself,” he said. “It’s been tenuous for the last five years. And it’s a challenge.”

It is a direct function of the county legislature to manage and maintain the route slip systems and processes. It enables the clerk and deputy clerk of the legislature to produce documents to conduct the business of the county.

Margeson said that the county executive left the clerk and deputy clerk out of training and information sessions for the new software, which essentially hindered their ability to do their jobs.

Margeson added that Moss wants to control the route slip process because of what he says is a, “perception that in the past, some of the resolutions may have been modified or changed.”

The accusation by Moss was made against the now former clerk of the legislature, Cindy Kalweit.

Kalweit told WSKG that any changes she made in her capacity as clerk were made to reflect appropriate attachments and formatting for policy and resolution language.

Kalweit retired in February after 19 years of service with Chemung County, due to what Margeson said was her perceived treatment by him and the county executive in her position.

“During that whole process, Cindy became very frustrated, and felt that we- I’ll say me- as the chair didn't support what she really felt, and that she felt that we were being really taken advantage of,” explained Margeson. “[That] it appeared that I supported the county executive versus supporting her, which wasn't really the case."

Multiple attempts to reach the county executive went unanswered.

During the legislature's personnel committee meeting last week, the deputy clerk of the legislature, Megan Hill, was appointed to the clerk position by unanimous vote.

Last month, the legislative and budget committees approved the purchase of a new software system, CivicPlus, to replace the legislature’s current one in the coming weeks.

According to Margeson, the legislature will continue to move forward with its software update to CivicPlus, despite the county executive’s continued objections and requests to use his preferred software, Peak Agenda Management.

WSKG reached out to neighboring counties about their workflow systems. Neither Schuyler or Steuben counties use a route slip system or legislative software to draft agendas and resolutions. However, Chemung, Steuben and Schuyler counties all use CivicPlus as their web platform.

Chemung County has been able to conduct business sporadically since Jan. 1. Margeson said that as of March 1, Moss told him that he and the county departments will no longer upload anything further into NovusAGENDA. It is unclear how the two branches of government will be able to do county business going forward.