By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO September 6, 2005 The Sullivan County Legislature will pick up a discussion on how it will replace fired Sullivan County Manager Dan Briggs at an Executive Committee meeting this week.
Chairman Chris Cunningham said advertising has begun in national publications and with groups such as the National Association of Counties in order to seek the most qualified candidate. Currently, Commissioner of Financial Management Richard LaCondre and Commissioner of General Services are sharing the Briggs duties, as the former county managers last day was August 31.
This Thursdays Executive Committee should be fairly busy, as legislators will also discuss the creation of a charter commission to examine the countys charter, or constitution. Cunningham has advocated for a full-time elected county executive to replace the appointed position of county manager.
The chairman said that he has been given a list of names by legislators for the new commission which will recommend changes to the charter. The current charter calls for at least 9 members from a cross-section of the community to form the commission. Cunningham said that the last charter commission included 13 people, and he would like to have a similar number.
Robert Meyer, who has taken over as Department of Public Works Commissioner, gave an extensive report about the department this past Thursday, including the work on the fire training center which he expects to have open by February at the latest. Equipment should be ready to move in by December, he said.
The departments new main facility on Route 17B is 97 percent complete, although he said they are 800 tons short of being fully stockpiled for sand. The high sand piles and the large DPW center are now highly visible from Route 17B. The center was relocated from Harris due to space issues.
Cunningham talked about the safety of the busy road in relation to the DPW since there have been many accidents near there this summer. Meyer said he has spoken with New York State Department of Transportation officials who said that the county could come up with a viable plan to improve the roadway. DPW sent the DOT a plan in 1995 which would have turned 17B into a four-lane highway, but that never came to fruition.
County resident Al Leibowitz said the problems on Route 17B were urgent. He said at least another lane for slower drivers should be added, as was suggested a few years back. He also recommended a zoning change along 17B to prohibit more businesses from locating there. He believed that 17B has turned into a true highway, and if something isnt done, there will be more accidents.
County Legislator Ron Hiatt asked that Meyer return to the next Public Works meeting with ideas on more accountability within the department and its policy on hiring minorities, as the department currently does not reflect the countys minority population, which is roughly 20 percent.
After the legislative session, Cunningham spoke out against surging gas prices and expressed his concern that stations were raising prices while their tanks were full.
The main thing Im concerned about is that regular people are trying to make a living, he commented.
Cunningham claimed people were being taken advantage of and that the legislature would pass a resolution urging federal representatives to act against it.
In other business, Judy Essex, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, reported that the consumer education hotline has received 42 calls since it began this year. Sean Welsh, the consumer educator, helps individuals with consumer affairs-related issues. The organization received special funding from the county to set up the hotline.
They will be holding two public forums on September 27 with Mark Hoops, the Senior Consumer Fraud Representative from the New York State Attorney Generals Poughkeepsie office, from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at the organizations headquarters on Ferndale-Loomis Road in Liberty.
Welsh can be contacted at 1-877-292-5250. Those wishing to attend the meeting should RSVP Cornell at 292-5250.
In General Services Committee, the county accepted a New York State Archives Grant of $75,000 to improve local government record management.