By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Money again dominated last Tuesday’s special meeting of the Legislature, but this time it was the receipt rather than the spending of it.
auction on plus side
Legislators (minus an absent Jonathan Rouis and Cindy Gieger) unanimously accepted the bids from the prior week’s annual tax auction.
Deputy Treasurer Nancy Buck said $3,161,000 in bids were made over two days at SUNY Sullivan, where hundreds of county-tax-delinquent properties were auctioned off.
“When you take off the delinquencies,” she said, “the net was only $391,352.”
Since bidders have until July 25 to consummate the deals, that figure will likely decrease, though Buck anticipated the county will still come out ahead.
Several notable properties sold, including an 84-acre farm in Kenoza Lake that was once envisioned as the county’s “demonstration farm” and 15 now-nonexistent condos at the destroyed Grandview Palace in Loch Sheldrake (8 of which were bought by Grandview’s board).
A major grant
Legislators also unanimously accepted a $1,131,000 state grant headed for the Sullivan County Adult Care Center (ACC).
The grant will fund a long-desired construction project to renovate the first floor and plant of the Liberty nursing home, create a 34-bed Alzheimer’s unit and 10 short-term rehab rooms, expand the physical rehab offerings, and improve the interior and exterior environment.
“This grant is obviously very good news,” affirmed County Manager David Fanslau, “but we have a compressed timeframe.”
The state is mandating the project be completed by February 2014, he said, so the county hopes to begin design work in July.
Legislator Kathy LaBuda thanked ACC Administrator Cathy Rauschendorfer, Public Works Commissioner Bob Meyer and Parks and Rec Director Kristin Porter for their hard work securing the grant, but she reserved particular praise for the county’s grants administration director, Art Hussey.
“He put everything else aside and worked on this,” she remarked. “I think it’s dynamite.”
Design and architectural firms are now being sought.
No Sunday hours
After mostly discussing it behind closed doors, legislators opted Tuesday not to take any action on a request to reopen the Monticello Transfer Station on Sundays.
Sullivan County First Recycling and Refuse had asked the county for Sunday hours to dump trash, but Public Works Commissioner Bob Meyer said that over the course of seven summer Sundays last year, the county failed to recoup its $13,650 cost.
The station was open those Sundays just to private commercial haulers, and Meyer blamed a relatively small volume of trash as the culprit.
“The total ... was less than an ordinary day in the summer,” he pointed out.
Legislators convened an executive session to privately discuss threatened litigation but afterwards said their decision was based mostly on the potential to lose money by opening that station on Sundays.
“There’s insufficient demand,” Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson explained.
In the meantime, legislators are looking at methods to find more efficiencies in the solid waste system, amidst a financial outlook that’s indicating a hefty tax increase might be necessary for 2013.
“We have to start figuring out ways to cut the [county’s] budget,” said Samuelson. “It sucks.”