County readies for new year
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Changes are coming in Sullivan County in 2013 some proposed, some already in motion.
Two new laws
Legislators this month unanimously passed two laws that are hoped to cut down on illegal alcohol and drug use in the county.
The first of the two the Social Host Law prohibits adults (18 and over) from knowingly allowing minors (17 and under) to drink alcohol or take drugs on their property, be it rented, owned or “otherwise controlled” by that adult or adults.
Exceptions apply only to prescribed drugs, alcohol taken for religious reasons, or for parents who are present and permit their children to partake.
Violators face $500-$1,000 fines, community service, and even jail time for repeat offenses.
The second of the two laws prohibits the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana, along with using it while driving.
Marketed under such names as K2, Scooby Snax and Red Dawn X, the synthetic drugs are potent enough to cause hallucinations, seizures and even death.
Penalties include jail time and revocation of the driver’s license.
Re-creating budget preparation
Various legislators advocated this month for a new way of preparing the county budget, with the tentative budget released far earlier than the typical November date.
“We have to set a different course for 2013,” said Cindy Gieger, who is pushing for a committee to review the matter. “We have to have a freer flow of information on all sides, so that when budget time comes, all nine legislators have all the info they need at hand to make decisions.”
Here comes FIT
Legislators also unanimously authorized the creation of the Fraud Investigation Team, which includes a reimbursement agreement with the District Attorney’s Office.
Charged with rooting out fraud by both social services consumers and providers, the team will be composed of the DA’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, the State Police and the county’s Department of Family Services overseen by a to-be-hired chief investigator.
The state Dept. of Environmental Conservation recently discovered lead contamination on property owned by the county requiring its cleanup.
According to a resolution unanimously approved by legislators this month, the lead is leaching from abandoned mines on the county parkland along the former Delaware and Hudson Canal near Wurtsboro.
The state will bear the costs of studying and remediating the contamination.