By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO March 9, 2004 "These are dire straits that we are in" were the words of Dan Briggs on the state of the county landfill at legislative meetings Thursday.
The county manager warned that "we only have enough space in Cell 6 until the end of the year."
He added, "If we dont get the expansion [approval], we would explore all options."
Briggs said that SCS, a firm hired to control the odor at the dump, was working with several crews "around the clock" to control the smell. He also said that calls to the countys odor control hotline were down.
However, the DEC has received 239 correspondences on the landfill and is currently reviewing the countys application for a permit to expand the landfill.
Cheryl McCausland, an assistant county attorney, announced an issues conference between county engineering officials and the DEC in April. The DEC engineers and county engineers held a closed meeting last Friday to discuss odor control issues.
McCausland also warned of legal issues the county would be facing if the permit was not issued. No matter what happens, an attorney for SPECS an environmental group opposed to the landfills operation may sue the county over the issue.
Better to Replace Than Repair
In other business, the Financial Management Committee, chaired by Jonathan Rouis, unanimously authorized $777,000 for the purchase of replacement equipment for the Department of Public Works.
Committee member Ron Hiatt was skeptical of the need for such an expenditure but was convinced by Rouis, Rodney Gaebel and others to support the resolution.
Rouis said that the machinery "will last a long time." Gaebel added that it would cost the county more to maintain the aging equipment than replace it.
Native Now Head of Planning
Dr. William Pammer was approved as the new Commissioner of Economic Development, Promotion and Planning by the Planning and Community Development Committee. Pammer, whose parents live in Monticello, is currently on a fellowship for the United States Department of State.
A Massive Upgrade
Also, $1.5 million in computers and high-tech equipment throughout the Sullivan County Government Center and other county buildings were recently replaced.
Dick Robinson, Chief Information Officer, announced that about 1,200 laptops and desktops were replaced after three years. Other servers and storage equipment, which will allow county agencies to more easily share information, were also replaced.
Elections Clerks Still an Issue
Sullivan County Board of Elections Commissioners Timothy Hill and Fran Thalmann asked that the legislature reinstate two senior clerks that were let go by the former legislature. They both said the clerks were crucial, especially since it is a presidential election year.
Legislators Leni Binder and Rodney Gaebel did not deem the positions necessary. They said the Board of Elections could get by fine with part-time workers.
Thalman said that part-time workers left them for better-paying jobs.
Legislator Kathleen LaBuda asked the commissioners if their problems would be solved by giving their clerks back but was cut off by Gaebel, who asked why Sullivan County spent more than any other county on its Board of Elections.
Hill could not answer because the meeting went directly into an executive session to discuss the lawsuit filed by Hill against the county to reinstate the two clerks.
Thalman and Hill also thanked CIO Dick Robinson for his work on the recent primary. They said they couldnt have done the election without his help on data entry and other computer work.
Finally, Sullivan County Community College announced that it would be raising tuition by $100 in two consecutive years starting in 2005.