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Dan Hust | Democrat

Janet Myers of the county’s Personnel Office told legislators how valuable her and other workers’ jobs are, in an effort to fend off coming layoffs. She ironically noted she had to type up the layoff notices – which included her own. Legislators Kathy LaBuda, far left, and David Sager listen.

Sheriff takes over 911 Center

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — February 22, 2011 — Legislators on Thursday unanimously agreed (minus an absent Frank Armstrong) to put the 911 Center in White Lake under the command of the Sheriff’s Office.
The move will ostensibly save money and allow Sheriff Michael Schiff to put up to four more deputies on road patrol.
“When you call 911, no one’s going to pick up the phone and say, ‘This is the sheriff’,” Legislator Leni Binder assured. “... It’s still going to be 911.”
Legislator Jodi Goodman lamented what she deemed “propaganda” about the sheriff trying to add to his powers, but Legislator David Sager pointed out that politics can get involved, especially since the Sheriff’s seat is an elected position.
“It’s not entirely genuine for us to ignore the politicalness of the office,” Sager told Goodman. “... Let’s not kid ourselves here. There are politics at play.”
“I still don’t see how it’s going to save money,” added Legislator Kathy LaBuda, “but I certainly hope it will.”
Legislators did add two amendments to the resolution. One requires the leadership change to revert back to the Public Safety Office at the end of January 2012 (unless extended by the Legislature). The other requires a quarterly report from the county manager on how efficient the new setup is.
Layoffs still in flux
Tax clerk layoffs were shuffled around in a resolution approved Thursday, though the full picture on the layoffs won’t emerge until this Wednesday during a 9:15 a.m. meeting about the job cuts and the Apollo property.
In the meantime, county workers Lynn McDonald and Janet Myers made pitches for their jobs, along with supporters.
Fee pain
During public comment at the full Legislature meeting on Thursday, Monticello bungalow colony owner Freddy Maurer expressed his belief that the solid waste fee is unconstitutional.
In particular, he pointed out it is an “access” fee but doesn’t charge vacant parcels, despite them having the same access to the solid waste system as his bungalow colony.
He also took umbrage with the $1,800 cap on multi-unit housing properties, which means his 15-unit colony is paying the same as a 50-unit one.
“The only fair way is to assess on the value of a property,” he concluded, pointing out that the fee is really already a tax – one printed on the county tax bills.
“This is not perfect,” acknowledged Legislator Ron Hiatt. “We plan on working on it some more.”
Smoking ban coming
Legislators also unanimously passed a smoking ban on all county facilities and grounds, after a public hearing elicited nary a comment for or against.
Monticello gets waste agreement
The Village of Monticello has gotten the more equitable arrangement it wanted from the county in treating the closed landfill’s leachate.
In exchange for that treatment, the county used to accept sludge from the village’s sewer plant, but the landfill’s closure eliminated that ability.
Since then, however, the village has continued to treat the county’s leachate – for free.
Now in exchange for that service, the county will deduct the “audited, reasonable and verified charges” for the sludge disposal from the tipping fees it charges the village for disposing village trash at county facilities.
Grim times ahead
County Treasurer Ira Cohen had more bad news to end February with.
“We’re probably going to borrow $13 million in March to cover our cash flow,” he told legislators, “with the anticipation we may have to borrow again in the fall, like we did last year.”

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