Tusten supervisor withdraws insurance request
NARROWSBURG, NY — Tusten Supervisor Carol Wingert announced on February 26 that she is withrdawing a request that the town pay for health insurance for her.
That followed the February 21 recessed meeting of the Tusten board, which drew a full house. The attendees clearly came because of two issues: consideration of offering health insurance to the supervisor’s office and establishing an on-road constabulary.
Many voiced displeasure that halfway through the agenda, an executive session was scheduled, during which the board huddled away from the public eye with a Town of Highland councilman, the Highland chief constable, a member of the constabulary committee and two National Park Service employees. The residents waited for 50 minutes for the public meeting to resume. No comments regarding any outcome from the session were forthcoming.
Two members of the audience challenged the legality of the executive session, saying that executive session is for the discussion of personnel or litigation matters only. The agenda stated that the executive session was to discuss “a matter which may disclose the identity of a law enforcement agency and the employment history of a particular individual.”
One individual said that a room full of people came out to receive and provide input on the two issues and that instead, both items were tabled.
Under “Old Business,” the agenda stated “Health Insurance—tabled until more information is gathered,” and that was the ultimate outcome of the issue. Councilman Tony Ritter reported that he had contacted nearby towns of comparable size and that of Lumberland, Highland, Cochecton and Delaware, only Lumberland provides town-paid health insurance to the supervisor’s office.
After presenting this information, he asked what further information was needed that would keep the board from further dealing with the issue. Jane Luchsinger said that they needed more information, including legal advice as to whether it is proper to make such a change. Ritter responded that at the last meeting, Luchsinger and other members of the board had wanted to proceed with a vote.
Luchsinger acknowledged that fact, but repeated that “certain things” need to be in place before or if this change is made. Ritter read a lengthy statement of his position, stating that the public has had no chance to comment, that such a change in procedure sets a bad precedent to making one-time changes to the budget, and providing it would be a costly and difficult-to-retract benefit. During the public comment period, the majority of the comments were negative regarding any change.
The survey to gather constituents’ input regarding establishing an on-road constabulary was also tabled after the manner of collecting the input was discussed. At issue was whether the count would be by household or by individual. The issue was remanded to the constabulary committee for a recommendation. Ritter stated that the survey will eventually be presented with the blessing of the board. It was acknowledged that the issue has become a “political hot potato.”
Two members of the public took exception to an earlier comment that the time taken during the executive session was a rude inconvenience to the attendees. One said that she did not wish to be considered a part of that crowd, and the other said that people attended because it is their town and that participating in such forums is not an inconvenience.