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Tesei seeks to make youth director a town position

February 1, 2017 GMT

GREENWICH — First Selectman Peter Tesei is seeking to make the job of youth services director, currently a contracted position, into a part-time staff position with benefits.

The position is currently held by Jenny Byxbee, who has served as Greenwich’s youth services coordinator for more than 10 years, and been under contract with the town since March 2016.

“It is time that the position is brought under the umbrella of the Department of Social Services, soon-to-be Department of Human Services, so that the town will be able to continue to serve the growing needs of our youth,” said Tesei.

He is seeking an an allocation in next fiscal year’s budget of more than $59,000 that would include a $41,000 salary, $3,200 for benefits and $15,000 to pay Kids in Crisis for its part in administering the Juvenile Review Board, which Byxbee has overseen with the Greenwich Police Department to help youthful offenders avoid the court system.

The allocation would be offset somewhat by two state Youth Services Bureau grants totaling $21,500.

The position was created in 2005 as part of the Greenwich United Way. Byxbee has served in the role since then.

The job would be posted for applicants, as per town procedure, but officials said Byxbee would be considered a leading candidate.

“Jenny has done admirable and valuable work as a consultant for Youth Services as well as for the First Selectman’s Youth Commission, and the Juvenile Review Board,” Tesei said on Tuesday.

Byxbee had several supporters at a public hearing Monday night before the Board of Estimate and Taxation’s Budget Committee, which is reviewing next year’s proposed spending plan.

Selectman Drew Marzullo said Byxbee has made a positive difference in the lives of children and families throughout town since taking the position in 2005.

“The positive impact is tangible,” Marzullo told committee members. “If you ever have the opportunity to meet some of the kids that have personally engaged with Jenny you would agree with me. Jenny has demonstrated unconditional care and commitment above and beyond a day job.”

Marzullo said Byxbee has provided a financial as well as social benefit to the town, as her work on the Juvenile Review Board, which constructs alternative sentences for young, first-time offenders while allowing them to avoid a criminal record, has helped reduce police costs.

Tesei’s budget for 2017-18 includes a reduction of nearly nine full-time positions from town government as part of an $11 million cut in spending from the current fiscal year. That number is being reached through reorganization and not filling vacant positions.

Budget Committee Chairman James Lash noted the youth services coordinator program began when he was first selectman and that it not only has the support of the Greenwich Police Department but also room in Tesei’s proposed budget.

“I think it’s likely to be approved but we won’t know that for certain until we’ve had the budget hearings,” Lash said Tuesday. The hearings begin Wednesday.

Byxbee also received praise from Mary Lee Kiernan, president and CEO of the YWCA Greenwich and a former member of the Budget Committee, and from Kristen Tomasiewicz, Kids in Crisis’ director of community services. Kiernan, who is also former board chairman for the Greenwich United Way, said it is important to coordinate youth services between local non-profits, schools and other town resources.

“We are dealing with some complicated and multi-dimensional issues and our community can benefit from having strategic leadership and coordination of programs and services,” Kiernan said. “This cohesion can bring about efficiencies with time and resources and that will benefit all children and families in need as well as the taxpayer.”

Tomasiewicz added, “There is no doubt that the Youth Services Bureau and its coordinator are making a difference in Greenwich through advocacy, leadership building, prevention and early intervention programs.”

kborsuk@scni.com