Revisit waste fee
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO February 19, 2013 A new Solid Waste Task Force is in the works.
Initially created three years ago to set up the controversial solid waste fee (featured on most county property tax bills), the task force will be resurrected later this year to address concerns over the fee’s fairness.
“There are a lot of unresolved issues,” Legislator Kathy LaBuda told her colleagues at Thursday’s Public Works Committee meeting.
LaBuda is leading the effort and is seeking a day on which the 5-6-member task force can regularly meet.
“It will be open to the public,” she explained. “We can start in March.”
Ups and downs
Treasurer Ira Cohen told legislators on Thursday that 2012’s total collected sales tax outstripped 2011’s by more than $1.2 million.
Though final figures aren’t yet in, 2012’s room tax is also on pace to hit about $50,000 more than 2011’s.
And while the mortgage tax total for 2012 is around $15,000 less than 2011, January 2013’s revenue is nearly $2,000 higher than January 2012’s, which Cohen took as a good sign, as that hasn’t happened in years.
Also on Thursday, legislators in the Government Services Committee tentatively agreed to have the Purchasing Department oversee all outside vendor contracts with the county.
Currently, other divisions and departments (like Family Services) sometimes handle the contracting out of services, but legislators like Cindy Gieger and Kitty Vetter are keen to centralize that.
They hope to use potential savings to hire a part-time contract supervisor, though the resolution only states that “additional” staff, offices, equipment and funding may be required.
“I agree with the concept,” said Legislator Jonathan Rouis. “The only thing I don’t like is the open-endedness of staffing and money.”
“It’s not committing to a staff, time or budget,” explained Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson. “It’s just committing to a plan.”
Purchasing Director Kathy Jones said she’d have a plan ready for legislators’ review by next month.
The new guy
Legislators on Thursday welcomed the new executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County.
Greg Sandor beat out other candidates after a six-month search by Cornell’s local board.
He comes from Oregon, where he served as a community college’s Agricultural Sciences Dept. director, but before that he was on Long Island.
“My background primarily is in the wine business,” the Cornell University viticulture graduate told legislators, promising to work toward local ag’s revitalization.
Orange County’s planning commissioner, David Church, visited legislators Thursday, seeking their endorsement of the Mid-Hudson Regional Sustainability Plan.
Developed by Sullivan, Orange, Ulster, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland and Westchester county officials, the plan focuses on strengthening land use, transportation, materials management, agriculture and water resources, with an eye toward both climate change mitigation and economic development.
Church said the state is requiring a final draft of the 200-page plan (with no less than seven appendices) by mid-March.
“We’ll need to mull this over between now and then,” said Legislator Alan Sorensen.
“There is no financial obligation to go further,” Church noted.
Sorensen did state that the plan’s adoption should enhance the region’s opportunities for state grants.
Roscoe bridge reopened
The Old Route 17 bridge spanning the Beaverkill in Roscoe (near Junction Pool) is again in service, after being closed by the state due to deterioration.
However, said Deputy County Public Works Commissioner Ed McAndrew, the bridge will have to be replaced sooner or later.
“That’s still a $3 million replacement,” he told legislators on Thursday. “... We don’t have that much to put into a bridge right now.”
In the meantime, Sullivan County will pay Delaware County $2,700 for the winter maintenance the neighboring county’s highway crews provided on the mile of Sullivan County Route 179A between the then-closed bridge and the Delaware County line.