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St. Lawrence County DSS move on hold

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CANTON — A plan to move some of the staff of the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services from the overcrowded Harold B. Smith building to the Canton Human Services Building has been delayed because of a lack of money.

“I think it still is the plan. The plan is on hold,” DSS Commissioner Christopher R. Rediehs said. “I have not heard the plan is abandoned.”

Earlier this year, legislators gave preliminary approval to move the 40-member staff of DSS’s Children’s Services to Human Services on Route 310, which has room because the Industrial Development Agency moved to its own building and Public Health lost staff when the Certified Home Health Agency closed.

The move would affect about 60 employees because it also would mean changes for the Office for the Aging, Veterans Services and Youth Bureau. The only departments in the Human Services Building that would not be affected would be the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“You’re basically going to play musical chairs with everyone,” Planning Deputy Director Jason C. Pfotenhauer said.

Moving Children’s Services could mean easier coordination with the Children’s Home of Jefferson County, which handles foster parent services and has offices in the building.

But office renovations and the setup of equipment would cost about $400,000, which was not included in the 2014 budget.

“Right now, it’s not happening,” Mr. Pfotenhauer said. “The plan is still there. It’s viable.”

Mr. Rediehs said he did not know when money for the move might be available.

“We’re still not sure how the year might end up,” he said. “We’d want to do it in a way that made financial sense. The hope is that moving some of Social Services out there, there would be funding to pay for the work done.”

The move would give Social Services employees more room and offer space in the Smith building, which is on Judson Street close to the courthouse, for other departments.

“The Smith building has the greatest density of employees in the county,” Mr. Rediehs said. “The space at Human Services has the potential to be very helpful.”

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