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Laura Stabbert | Democrat

On hand to lead Wednesday’s forum were Executive Search Committee members, from the left, Chairman Sean Rieber, Linda Babicz and Pamela Rourke.

Pushing idea for an elected county executive

By Laura Stabbert
MONTICELLO — July 9, 2010 — The Sullivan County Executive Research committee called a public meeting Wednesday night at the Town of Thompson Town Hall.
This is the first of seven public forums introducing to the residents of Sullivan County the idea of changing the County Charter to have an elected county executive.
The committee members on hand leading the forum – Chairman Sean Rieber, along with former Town of Callicoon Supervisor Linda Babicz and former County Personnel Director Pamela Rourke – presented a power point in which they explained why they felt it to be the best form of government to lead Sullivan County.
The current charter is structured so that a nine-person legislature, with a county manager hired by the legislators, runs the county.
They explained that, through their extensive research, they found a county executive, with a four-year term, gave voters control and made the government accountable to the public.
Other advantages noted were the increased speed of decision making and gaining much more political pull for the county in Albany.
According to Rieber, often there is a struggle knowing who to call with a question regarding a county concern. The answer being, it depends on the issue. With a county executive that problem is cleared up – call the executive.
With the proposed changes in the charter – mainly the county executive – the county budget would have a net increase of $140,000 per year, which the committee believed would be money well spent.
The main goal of the committee is to get 3,000 signatures to present to the county legislature and force a referendum on the November ballot to give the voters an option of choosing to change the charter.
Among the questions posed by the public were “What are the things we should expect the county executive to be able to do above the legislator?” as well as, “Who is eligible to sign their names?” on the signature list.
No definite answers were given, but committee members gave assurances that future forums – and the revised charter – would provide the answers.
The next open forum will be Tuesday, July 20 at 7 p.m. in the Highland Senior Center.

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