New program to pay St. Lawrence County employees to further their education, training
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
CANTON – St. Lawrence County has established a program that will allow employees to further their education and training with reimbursement from taxpayers.
The idea behind the program is to incentive employee retention by subsidizing their education in return for an agreement to extend employment.It’s unclear at this time if the funding would be complete or partial reimbursement as the program is still being established and will not officially launch until fall.
According to the resolution, which passed 14-1, the county has struggled both attracting and retaining specialized employees.
“The county is routinely challenged when attempting to attract and retain positions and specialized employment titles to assume and maintain long tenured employment,” the resolution says.
The resolution says the “employer-sponsored employee education or tuition reimbursement program is a tool that may assist in both the ability to develop and encourage existing staff, while also acting as a recruiting tool to incentivize new staff.”
While that may aid the county, Legislator David Forsythe, R-Lisbon, said it will create stiff competition for the private sector where such programs are used to compete with government jobs that typically have higher wages and better benefits compared to non-profits and private businesses in the county.
“The private sector has to compete with government employment all the time. So what a lot of companies do is help pay tuition for some sort of commitment to help people get degrees to combat that. If we do the same thing, they lose their edge,” Forsythe said when asked to explain his no-vote in a follow up interview.
At the meeting Forsythe also questioned how the program would be funded and to what extent. Although he sought cost estimates from County Administrator Ruth Doyle she said a real number would be hard to obtain until the county was able to gauge interest. However, a ballpark initial figure of $100,000 was discussed as a jumping off point.
Doyle said the incentive would be available for college courses as well as trades education.