SUMMARY OF THE 2008 ANNUAL REPORT OF THE ALLEGANY COUNTY ATTORNEY The Allegany County Attorney's Office provided legal representation to the County Board of Legislators and all other County offices and departments. This involved the rendering of formal and informal opinions, legal research, attendance at conferences, attendance at Board and Committee meetings, individual and group consultations as well as preparation for and appearances in Supreme, County and Family Court actions and proceedings. In addition, laws affecting County operations were examined and appropriate legal advice rendered as a result. A wide variety of other work was undertaken for the Board of Legislators and County departments and offices. The following legislation, instruments and documents were prepared and/or approved: a. b. c. d. e. f. 246 Resolutions, and 4 Local Law 203 Agreements were prepared & reviewed for various County Departments. Preparation of 60 tax deeds; extensive examination of 730 title searches. Prepared 250 confessions of judgments for the Department of Social Services. Prepared 384 child support satisfactions of judgment. Prepared 10 discharge of mortgages totaling $4,570.74.
A few projects of note that this office was actively involved with were the sale of the Certified Home Health Care Agency; the Soil and Water Conservation District riverbank remediation project; the Water District project; the court facilities project. The following extensive Family Court work was performed: a. b. c. Preparation/prosecution of 56 juvenile delinquency proceedings. Preparation/prosecution of 43 Persons In Need of Supervision proceedings. Preparation/prosecution of 358 neglect and 43 child abuse proceedings.
The Allegany County Support Collection Unit collected a total of $6,908,247 for calendar year 2008 (an increase of 7.43% over last year). Of that amount collected, $416,467 will reimburse public assistance grants. The number of paternity cases established in calendar year 2008 was 250 children (163 via paternity acknowledgment signed at the hospital and 87 by Allegany County Support Collection Unit petition to Family Court for an Order of Filiation). In addition to the receipt of $351,400 of anticipated revenues, the County Attorney's Office received unanticipated revenues of $78,763.50 for legal services rendered to the Department of Social Services and STOP-DWI Office. Thus, total 2008 revenues were $430,163.50. The Family Court statistics illustrate that an ever-increasing amount of the resources of this office are being consumed by Family Court work. For example, in the last year alone, the number of neglect cases increased by 113 over the prior year’s total of 245. Not only have actual cases increased, but due to new state and federal requirements, the frequency with which a matter returns to court has also increased. Also, our office is responding to a greater number of appeals on Family Court cases which of necessity require substantial time for research, writing and travel to Rochester. Therefore, despite the fact that this office was down both an attorney and a secretary/paralegal for the first third of the year, we still show an increase in revenues over the prior year. Unfortunately, given an historic trend of increasing Family Court cases and the socio-economic factors behind that trend, given the current state of the economy we expect this trend to accelerate.
What this trend means for this office is that a greater and greater amount of the County’s finite legal resources are being used to meet the needs of one client-DSS. As nonDSS work is also increasing, although at a lesser pace, most of that work is by necessity undertaken by just one attorney-myself. In the past, the County Attorney was able to delegate a greater proportion of the non-DSS work to his assistants. This allowed the County Attorney to devote greater time and attention to the more critical legal issues being faced by the “client”. Therefore, the challenge is to meet the County’s increasing need for legal services with shrinking resources. Obviously, the challenge of “doing more with less” is something we all face. So far, I believe this challenge is being met. However, I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t point out this trend and its future implications. If this trend continues, in the not too distant future, our existing model for providing the varied legal services required by the County will no longer be adequate to the task at hand. In closing, let me say that I very much appreciate the honor you afforded me last year by appointing me County Attorney. I am encouraged by the hard work and commitment of those with whom I work and am confident that this County is up to the significant challenges we face. I look forward to continuing to serve as your County Attorney. Respectfully submitted,
Thomas A. Miner County Attorney