By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO March 13, 2001 A month ago, the Sullivan County Legislature's Executive Committee passed a resolution to renew their lobbying contract with Bolton-St. Johns.
It was expected to have been passed by the full Legislature at their monthly meeting on February 15. However, due to the efforts of Legislator Chris Cunningham, the resolution was tabled.
Last year, Bolton concentrated their efforts on Indian gaming. This year, they have offered to expand their services to other issues that would affect the county. Some of those areas would include legislation involving Medicaid, PINS (Persons In Need of Supervision), and tax-exempt properties.
On Thursday, March 8, George DeRosa of Bolton-St. Johns met with the Executive Committee to address any issues especially Cunninghams.
Cunningham's concern has been over the fact that Bolton-St. Johns has been termed the county's "eyes and ears in Albany." He feels that the county has been well-represented by New York State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblyman Jake Gunther. It was also noted by Legislady Leni Binder that the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) represents the county in Albany as well.
"What do you do that our state representatives or NYSAC does not do?" Binder asked DeRosa.
"We are there every day," DeRosa responded. "We monitor the happenings every day. We talk to every branch of the government, and we talk comprehensively."
DeRosa pointed out that NYSAC has to represent all of the counties in the state. They are not able to concentrate on specific issues for individual counties. DeRosa added that a large county like Monroe County, which has seven representatives in Albany, retains Bolton to help with their lobby efforts.
Without getting too specific, DeRosa outlined some of what his lobbying firm does. He spoke of the personnel in his firm, their prior government experience, and their government connections.
"I think this is important," Legislator Bob Kunis stated. "Albany can be a maze. It is a wise investment. They do not replace our legislators they supplement them."
However, not everyone was convinced.
"There should be more substantial discussion on this," Cunningham said. "We should have had this conversation last year. It seems, again, like we're putting the cart before the horse. We don't need a lobbyist. I ask you not to go forward."
Legislative Chair Rusty Pomeroy thanked Cunningham and said that his feelings would be taken into account. Nevertheless, it was agreed that, besides casino gaming, Bolton may also represent Sullivan on Medicaid and PINS issues.
Legislator Jodi Goodman said that a major issue for Sullivan County (especially Fallsburg residents, she said, who are in her district) is tax-exempt property. Goodman asked if a cap for tax-exempt properties in a county could be established. DeRosa replied that it could be something they look into.
Thus, the resolution passed 7-1-1 (Cunningham against, Steve Kurlander absent). The resolution will go in front of the full board on Thursday, March 15.