Valley View Submitted by Minority Leader Sandra Goldberg
There are glaring omissions in the State of the County message released on February 2nd by the County Executive.
First, there is no mention of the Resource Recovery Agency, an organization central to solid waste management in Dutchess County. The 2010 budget reflects a shortfall of over $6 million dollars in funding for the RRA, yet the County Executive ignored this in his message.
In 2009, two reports were done on Waste Management. The study conducted by the County Legislature focused on addressing waste management utilizing sound green principles with an emphasis on recycling and composting. The study conducted by the Resource Recovery Agency focused on justifying additional funds to keep the current plant running.
In addition, there is no mention of the jail overcrowding issue. The County Executive continues to deal with this vexing long-standing problem by simply ignoring it, but it has reached a point where it can no longer be handled by a policy of neglect.
Both of these issues would be best addressed by a collaborative and cooperative process like the one the County Executive calls for in other areas. Reading through his message, however, one is led to believe that everything good traces to the County Executive’s actions and everything that is a problem is someone else’s fault.
He puts the blame for the decreased mortgage tax revenues on the Legislature for failing to act last fall to extend this. The County Executive is correct, but what he fails to mention is that the Democratic majority voted to do just that; however, there was not enough support from Republican legislators to make it happen, and the result is a loss of $350,000 for the month of December and a projected loss of $1.7 million for the first half of 2010. The new Republican majority has yet to put a proper resolution on the agenda to correct this, and time is running out.
There are many words devoted to Green initiatives for Dutchess. The County Executive talks about adding two hybrid buses to the Loop fleet. But the Democrats on the Legislature, with Joel Tyner taking the lead, have been asking for this for many years and were told we could not do it. Similarly, several years ago a bond resolution was passed that included the purchase of several hybrid vehicles for the County fleet. The Administration resisted this too.
Energy audits are important for maximizing county dollars. Joel Tyner identified several companies that do this for NO charge and in fact Dutchess Community College has utilized this service. But our County Executive refused to take advantage of having these audits done at no cost.
Democrats always have supported our rail trails and know what an asset they are for county residents. That is why we have been so frustrated that the original completion date, the fall of 2007, was never met. In fact, under Democratic leadership, a bond was passed to connect the rail trail to the Walkway Over the Hudson, and that project has languished.
Democrats, too, have concerns about the NYS budget and its impact on counties, municipalities and the delivery of needed services. That is why the Legislature restored a portion of money to many of our not-for-profit agencies that deliver vital county services. This was done in a bipartisan fashion while the Democrats still held the majority.
It is our hope that both branches of government will be able to work in a cooperative manner for the best interests of Dutchess County residents while still respecting the independent roles of each branch of government, and the good that each does.
Sandra Goldberg, Minority Leader
Dutchess County Legislature