It is my pleasure to distribute my newsletter to you, my perspective on what’s happening in our county and community.
I have represented our area for several years. I hope you know me well enough to know that I always have served with honesty and sincerity. I care about our district and the county and doing what is right.
Since January, the Democrats hold only 6 out of 25 seats, with the one Conservative sitting in the Democratic caucus. Prior to the Democratic majority for the years 2008 – 2009, the County Executive dictated policy and direction and the Republican majority on the Legislature fell in line. We now are back to this way of governance. The County Executive has minimized the role of the Legislature and the Republican majority has allowed him to do this. It is a “slippery slope” that has been established.
One of the things that concern me the most is the disregard for using proper procedures and following our own local laws. The Republican majority has 18 votes and can put in place anything they want; I cannot understand why they are not willing to do so by honoring our rules and laws.
I recently voted against appointments to the Mental Hygiene Board, not because they were not good candidates, but because our rules say that the sub committee must first interview prospective appointments. This was ignored.
We all support those elected to office to pay towards their health insurance premiums. (I never have taken this coverage). However, there is a local law that says salary changes must be voted upon in July prior to the election. The Democratic majority tried to put this in place last year; it was passed by the Legislature with 23 yes votes. The County Executive vetoed it and the Republicans would not vote to override. It now has been put into place for legislators and the County Comptroller without ever rescinding the local law and without including the County Executive. In fact the County Executive, who receives free health insurance, instructed that the money be deducted from legislators’ pay starting in January with no legislation in place.
It is these kinds of things that concern me.
I continue to review carefully proposals, resolutions and bonds that the Executive branch sends over to the Legislature. I ask a lot of questions and sometimes make decisions contrary to what the County Executive wants. In these difficult economic times, I have chosen carefully what bonds to support, in order to minimize the debt service that we all pay. I have tried to adjust some of the bonds to include only what I feel is necessary; the Republican majority continues to vote on the entire bonds as submitted by the County Executive.
I feel an important aspect of serving residents is responding to constituent concerns, and providing timely and relevant information. Therefore, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. My phone number is above. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
As I have stated before, I personally pay for the cost of printing and mailing these newsletters
SPOTLIGHT ON THE COUNTY
Board of Elections – I Have Concerns: The 2010 budget submitted by the County Executive included chargebacks to all municipalities to offset the county’s cost of running elections. During the 2010 budget process, the Board of Elections was able to reduce their budget by almost a million dollars in order to offset the necessity of forcing unfunded mandates on our municipalities. This reduction was achieved as it became clearer what machines would be in use this coming year. The Legislature sent back to the County Executive a budget with the reduced costs at the Election Board and eliminating these unfair costs to the towns and cities. It was vetoed back in and short one vote to override. I do NOT and will NOT support chargebacks to our town; the county is better able to absorb these costs. However, the new Republican majority is looking at doing just that and is treading dangerously on ignoring State Election Law on what oversight role the County has over the Board of Elections, a slippery slope, indeed.
We the taxpayers will pay in either case, but the impact would be greater on the town/city level. The role of the Board of Elections changed with the HAVA federal legislation, putting the responsibility of running elections at the county level. This, along with the change to optical scanner machines and machines for the handicapped, has increased the role and responsibilities of the Election Board.
Resource Recovery Agency – More concerns: In this case the Republican majority and County Executive are looking at proposals taxing residents, not for profits, businesses, schools, and municipalities to pay for the shortfall at this Agency. I oppose this! You and I would then pay for this in our school tax, town and village tax, and our property tax.
I, along with others, had tried to put the money that the county had to pay to this agency in the 2009 contingency fund in order to have better oversight. This was vetoed back into the main budget. Over the last several years, more money had been appropriated for this agency then was needed resulting in over a million dollars each of several years that was not spent, but for which you were taxed. In this year’s budget, the County Executive put no money in the budget, hoping instead that the Republican majority would initiate a “garbage tax”. In the meantime, not only was there enough money left to pay the bill in June, but there still is significant money left that now will go into the Fund Balance.
In past years, the County Executive designated one of his Department Heads to have oversight of this Agency. This year none has been appointed.
Recently the State Agency that oversees local authorities did an audit, and, as was reported in the Poughkeepsie Journal, found the Resource Recovery Agency lacking in many areas.
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. Now this Agency has selected the same firm that did their original study to develop a Waste Management Plan for the County, a clear conflict of interest! This study is due to be sent to the DEC this summer with final approval by the end of the year. Although this plan originally was being overseen by the Commissioner of Planning, since his retirement earlier this year, the County Executive has wiped his hands on having any responsibility.
Recycling is the responsibility of this agency; yet our county recycles just over 10% whereas surrounding counties recycle much higher numbers, some as high as 40%. There is no effort to reach out to the community to encourage and enforce recycling. This needs to be addressed.
Airport: The Obstruction Removal on County property has been completed. Additional mulch and seeds have been added to areas where soil composition needs assistance to nurture new growth. There will be five annual inspections of the wetlands to monitor the plantings.
A new security system has been installed and includes new gates, card readers, and video cameras. The cost of this project was funded by a grant from NYS.
The entire Airport Staff now is CPR and AED (automatic electronic defibrillator) trained; as a result the Airport received a Heart Safe Community Gold Level Award.
At the end of March two new neighborhood members were appointed to the committee to replace expiring terms. I was never notified of this until mid June, despite the fact that I chair this committee. One of the people appointed resides in Hopewell Junction, and I do not believe that qualifies as a neighbor. I hope the new appointees will take an active role in communicating with neighbors.
BALEFILL: Recapping of the balefill should be completed by this year. We are under DEC order to do this. A seed mix less attractive to wildlife will be used in order to minimize animal impacts on the planes.
STIMULUS MONEY: Dutchess County has/is received the following: in 2009, we received $2,328,800 through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, $4,003,700 in weatherization funds; in 2009 we received almost $2,000,000 to offset public works projects and in 2010 we are expecting over $8,000,000 to offset public works projects.
MYERS CORNERS ROAD: Work has begun on identifying and recommending land use and transportation policies in this corridor. Two public meetings now have been held to keep us updated and get public input.
RAIL TRAIL: Work finally has begun on the Wappinger section of this trail. Hopefully we will see the completion this year; the entire Rail Trail originally was to be completed in 2007. However, the connection to the Walkway Over the Hudson still is stalled.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Hazardous Waste Disposal Days: Collections will be held at the Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency at 96 Sand Dock Road (463-6020 or www.dcrra.org/), Poughkeepsie on July 10th, October 9th, and November 6th. Preregistration is required.
Safe Medication Disposal Days: Collections will be at the Resource Recovery Agency (see above) and will be held on July 17th, August, 14th, September 18th, October 16th, and November 13th.
Bowdoin & Wilcox Parks and the Walkway: For available programs go to: http://www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/Departments/DPW-Parks/PPIndex.htm
Dutchess Rail Trails: For additional information, go to www.dutchesscountytrails.com
County Website: You can find a variety of information about the county at www.co.dutchess.ny.us. Our legislative meetings also can be viewed on line. Go to the county website and click onto Departments and then Legislature.
Dutchess County Tourism: Request your free Travel Guide on line at www.DutchessTourism.com or call toll free 800-445-3131. Take advantage of all our County offers.