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Onondaga County health commissioner resigns unexpectedly

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Onondaga County health commissioner resigns unexpectedly
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A surprise announcement from Onondaga County government, as the long time Health Commissioner says she's preparing to step down. Bill Carey says the resignation follows an internal disagreement over budget plans and services for local families and children.

ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Dr. Cynthia Morrow has headed the local health department for nine years. There were few signs of any trouble, until work began on a 2015 county budget.

The dispute grew over a plan to streamline services by moving a portion of the health department into another county unit.

"It's around our Health Families Division in the Health Department and the components of that, which would be transferred to the department of Children and Families," said Ann Rooney, Deputy Onondaga County Executive for Human Services.

Reporter asked, "And the commissioner wanted to keep them under the health department?"

Rooney replied, "I believe that's the case, yes."

Morrow says rather than take part in the change, she will step down on June 1st.

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow said, "At the end of the day, we are all here for the same purpose and that's to serve our community. But, if we have very different visions of what that looks like, it sometimes presents a difficult challenge and that's the situation we're in right now."

As the County Executive's office began outlining its goals for the next budget, Morrow said it became clear that the transfer of services was a done deal, one that she could not support.

Morrow added, "Maternal and child health is a core public health service and I can't compromise my belief in that.

For the time being, once Morrow steps aside, deputy commissioner Michelle Mignano will run the department.

Rooney said, "She will serve in the interim while we embark on a search process that we are putting together as we speak."

For Morrow now, the challenge is figuring out the next step in her career.

Morrow went on to say, "In my heart of hearts, I serve the community and so, I don't know what that's going to look like, but I've never been more passionate about public health that I am today. It's grown and grown and grown. And I will find something I can do that can allow me to continue to work for our community."

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