Jail less, costs less; IDA projects advance
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO November 15, 2013 Legislators are considering adding another officer to the Probation Department in order to free up space in the county jail and money in the county coffers.
During a Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday, legislators were told the county has already spent more than half a million dollars this year sending inmates to other counties’ jails.
Sullivan County’s century-old facility is overcrowded, and county taxpayers spend about $3,600 a day to have excess prisoners boarded out.
That figure could be substantially reduced, indicated officials, if the Probation Department had at least one more officer to help administer the Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) program.
ATI actually began in 1987 in response to jail overcrowding, but in the past decade, Probation’s ranks have been diminished in budget cuts, and Director Jeff Mulinelli said his staff has enormous caseloads.
“We’re overburdened,” he affirmed. “... We can’t do what we’ve done in the past.”
ATI takes non-violent offenders and either works out a pretrial release agreement (where they’re released on their own recognizance) or a community service program. Both branches of the program require supervision by Probation, however.
The program is ongoing and is estimated to have saved the county upwards of $1.4 million this year, but much more savings are anticipated, if staff were available.
“The key is the time [in jail],” said Legislator Gene Benson. “If you can knock the time factor down, you’re saving money.”
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO November 15, 2013 On Tuesday, the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and its twin, the Sullivan County Funding Corporation (SCFC), moved two significant projects ahead.
Cornell extension to own its own
Authorized by legislators the week before, the SCFC board unanimously (minus an abstaining Charlie Barbuti) agreed to transfer title of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s (CCE’s) Liberty headquarters to CCE for a dollar.
Built 26 years ago by the county for the perpetual use of CCE, the Gerald Skoda Education Center has since fallen into disrepair, despite CCE’s ongoing use of the facility.
Skoda himself is helping lead an effort to undertake $1 million in repairs, which will begin once CCE gains title to the structure and 22 surrounding acres.
Owning the property will allow Extension to gain financing and raise funds for the repairs, which was not possible under county ownership, due to the county’s finances.
Though it has yet to close on a planned purchase of the closed Kutsher’s Resort in Monticello, Veria Lifestyle won approval for sales tax exemptions and a 15-year graduated property tax abatement from the IDA.
The IDA Board unanimously (minus an abstaining Sean Rieber and an absent Harold Gold) agreed to provide the benefits, as Veria’s health resort project fits the IDA’s “tourism destination” criteria.
A prior temporary sales tax exemption turned out not to be necessary, though Veria still plans to begin tearing down some of Kutsher’s oldest structures and purchasing new materials once the sale goes through with the Kutsher family, expected as early as next week.