By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO January 21, 2010 A slew of contracts were approved by legislators on Thursday, most of them containing a 10 percent cut in funding, said County Manager David Fanslau.
“Cornell Cooperative Extension was kept whole,” he explained, as was the Sullivan County Soil and Water Conservation District, both of whom get funding beyond the county.
Soil and Water had also agreed not to give raises to its staff this year, though officials did not indicate that was related to their decision.
The Sullivan County Visitors Association (SCVA) also didn’t see a decrease, so long as actual room tax revenues meet or exceed the $700,000 set aside in the county budget.
“It’s just nice to have a set of cheerleaders that are out there with enthusiasm,” complimented Legislator Ron Hiatt.
SCVA President Roberta Byron-Lockwood reported to legislators that last year nearly $20 million in taxes were generated through local tourism and associated businesses and employment.
“Nationally, American households would pay an additional $950 in taxes annually if not for the revenue generated by travel and tourism,” she said. “In Sullivan County, each household would pay $1,363 in additional taxes.”
The following independent agencies received renewed contracts from the county for 2011 (pending approval from the full Legislature yesterday):
• Boys and Girls Club $60,750
• Creative Think Tank, Inc. $48,600
• YMCA $27,000
• Head Start $46,170
• Cornell Cooperative Extension $415,000
• Partnership for Economic Development $75,000
• Soil and Water Conservation $198,535
• SCVA $700,000 or the actual revenues received from the county’s room tax
• Catskill Association of Tourism Services (CATS) $15,390
• Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) $21,375
• Eagle Institute $7,650
• Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County $18,000
• Community Action Commission to Help the Economy (CACHE) $27,000
• Literacy Volunteers $4,275
• Library Alliance $11,543.
Proposals may be sought for Legal Aid contracts
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Citing the lengthy and legally complicated request for proposals (RFP) process, legislators agreed this month to look into hiring an experienced outside firm to prepare RFPs for groups interested in handling the public defense system in the county.
Two local organizations run by local attorneys currently have the existing contracts, totalling $1.3 million, which were reduced in funding for 2011 by 10 percent.
The matter was discussed at last week’s legislative committee meetings.
“We haven’t had an increase in at least five years, and our budget this year is less than it was in 1994,” noted Steve Schick, an attorney and executive director of the Sullivan County Legal Aid Panel.
Yet in light of falling state reimbursements, some legislators think there may be more savings to be found. Legislator Alan Sorensen, for example, thought an RFP process could reveal untapped innovations.
“You don’t have to go with the low bidder,” he remarked.
But Legislator Kathy LaBuda worried the county could pick an out-of-county firm to handle the public defense of those unable to pay for a lawyer.
“Where is that fair?” she wondered.
“We have to do something now,” urged Legislator Leni Binder.
But developing an RFP for public defenders is full of legal issues, explained County Manager David Fanslau, who said that New York City took a year to draft its RFP for such thus the county’s search for an experienced firm to aid it.