Legislature Wrap: Tourism marketing, Sheriff’s Office
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO With calls to make the process more transparent, the County Legislature will let the public see presentations from the two nonprofits competing for the county’s tourism marketing contract.
The original presentations and discussions took place behind closed doors this past Thursday.
The Sullivan County Visitors Association (SCVA), the current contractor for the county, and the newly-formed Sullivan County Tourism and Promotion (SCTP) are vying for the 2013 contract.
The public will have a chance next Tuesday, October 30, to listen to an abbreviated version of their pitches, then witness legislators ask further questions. The special meeting of the Executive Committee will occur at 10 a.m. inside the Government Center in Monticello.
Legislature Vice Chair Gene Benson said a public presentation was “the plan all along” and that the closed-door sessions were necessary “because we were not going to talk about money, salaries and people’s names” in open session.
Whether the coming public meeting will lessen the controversy and political wrangling dogging the idea remains to be seen.
At this past Thursday’s full Legislature meeting, SCVA member Carolyn Bivins, a typographer from Livingston Manor who works with a wide array of local businesses, told legislators this is not the time to make a change.
“To start with another company at this very challenging time would set everything back a year or two and be very devastating to our small businesses,” she warned.
Legislators plan to make a decision by their next full meeting on November 15 at 2 p.m.
After weeks of back-and-forth, on Thursday all nine legislators ultimately accepted the donation of a K-9 officer to replace RC, who passed away earlier this year.
The resolution, however, was amended at Legislator Cindy Gieger’s request to include a requirement that the Sheriff’s Office actively seek grant funding to sustain the K-9 program in 2013.
After a brief debate, legislators agreed to the amendment.
“As long as we’re not going to micromanage that process,” said Legislator Alan Sorensen.
“It’s $7,000 to keep the dog and maintain it to the end of the year, so that’s fine,” opined Legislator Kathy LaBuda. “It’s $30,000 for next year , and that’s why Cindy’s concern is a valid concern.”
Legislators subsequently also agreed unanimously to let Sheriff Michael Schiff hire five temporary (90-day) deputies to fill a worrisome staffing gap in the patrol unit.