Good times just ‘round the corner
ELDRED, NY — Summarizing his recent State of the County message, the Sullivan County Legislature’s loquacious chairman, Luis Alvarez, painted a bright picture on May 8.
Speaking at the Highland Town Board meeting, his “five-minute” summary was predictably longer. Topics included: not enough people to fill job openings, not enough housing stock for people moving to Sullivan County for work at the new casino hotel. These sounded like positive problems.
His remarks didn’t include much direct information about the long-anticipated casino. But related topics were apparent: record spending on roads and bridge repairs, sprucing up the government center, new law-enforcement hires and more money for (or to keep) the county’s lowest-paid employees.
“We’re working hard on the infrastructure. We can’t turn back on the roads. We’re doing 68 miles of roads using $10 million of county money… We’ve never before proposed so much for road construction.” Another $5 million will go to bridge repair.
Other infrastructure items included sidewalks, a new generator, cleaning and painting at the “run-down” government center; continuing repairs and improvements at the Adult Care Center, which has been renamed the Care Center at Sunset Lake to reflect the changes; and ongoing, “on-budget” completion of the new jail and Sheriff’s Office.
Certainly, sprucing up the county seems related to an expected increase in tourism. Aside from the new casino, Alvarez is looking for a visitor influx in 2019 related to the opening of a water park at the casino, Legoland Park in Goshen and the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. The visitors’ association is working to have Route 17 signed as “Woodstock Way. “We want people to know it happened here, not over there,” he said.
Alvarez said “no” when asked after his remarks whether long-discussed revenue sharing of sales taxes would take place. Sales tax money would go to new salaries for five new deputies and two new assistant district attorneys. As to revenue sharing, his “maybe in future” sounded familiar.
However, he said gaming money, expected to amount to $3 million in the first year, will go to aid local governments. He did not expand on how these funds would collected or made available. But he said gaming money would be available for Delaware River services.
Legislator Nadia Rasjz said that money would aid the Scenic Byway, a byway visitor center when it is built and advertising for all businesses, “not just those on the eastern end.”
He said things are getting better for the poor. Some 200 people have left shelters to move to safe housing, and he credited a social services task force for $8 million fraud case collections. “We’re not balancing the budget on the backs of the staff. Those making $15 an hour and less are being raised. We have to keep a balance of revenues and costs. We’re back on track... We’re moving together and very fast.”
For the full text of Alvarez’s address visit www.co.sullivan.ny.us/.
In town business, the board approved the appointment of Jean DeMark as a deputy town clerk, the hiring of Louis Brown for mowing at town properties at $15 per hour, a new telephone contract with Frontier Communications that would provide $250 in monthly savings, naming N. Sutherland LLC to maintain Devlin Road through May of 2020 under the town’s Adopt-a Road Litter program, and a letter of support for the Barryville Chamber of Commerce grant application to create a new welcome sign for the hamlet.
Following a May 10 bid opening, Supervisor Jeff Haas said discussion on the contracts for the new highway barn is continuing.