Shutdown highlights state’s failure to fund UDC
NARROWSBURG, NY — The partial federal shutdown “exemplifies why having all your funding eggs in one basket is precarious and why we need the states’ support,” Upper Delaware Council (UDC) Executive Director Laurie Ramie told the council on January 3.
Following an election of new officers, incoming chair Harold Roeder, representing the Town of Delaware, railed at the fact that the state has not properly funded the UDC in three decades. In contrast, he said, “I don’t ever recall such of problem with financing and the federal government.” Now that the federal government is shutdown, the impact of missing state funding is apparent. “We should have the states’ support. As a not-for-profit we can’t solicit, but we sure can go after something promised to us 31 years ago.”
Roeder noted that UDC would need a $640,000 budget to match the value of the $300,000 in 1988-dollars. “We really need to work on this,” he said. “If we don’t do something, we won’t be here.”
To that end, Ramie prepared a single-spaced, 14-page document called “Historical Overview of States’ Cost-Sharing Scenario and Actions For Operational Support of Upper Delaware Council 1988-2018.” The document outlines 30 years of the states’ executive orders for compliance with the river plan—which calls for their support—as well as efforts to win additional federal funding; meetings with various state representatives and 20 years of often encouraging but inconclusive letters to and from state governors, legislators and agency heads.
As to the current shutdown, “Our intent is to keep on keeping on,” Ramie said, reporting that UDC has about $123,000 in unrestricted funds on hand and average monthly expenses of about $20,000. Speaking in the fourth week of the shutdown, before President Donald Trump’s comment that the shutdown could last “for months or a year,” Ramie saw no immediate need for the council to plan an office closure date.
None of four member agencies were on hand for the January 3 meeting. The National Park Service Superintendent Kris Heister had previously issued a release noting that the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River [UPDE] would be accessible to the public during the shutdown, and that emergency and rescue services would be limited.
“The Roebling Bridge vehicle thoroughfare will be maintained, while the walkways will not,” the release read. “There will be no NPS-provided visitor services… including public information, restrooms, trash collection, and (other) road maintenance, including plowing parking lots and accesses or shoveling walkways.”
In other business, the council elected Jeff Dexter of Damascus Township as vice-chairman and Al Henry of Berlin Township as treasurer. The council also released some letters, the first of which was to the NYC Bureau of Water Supply, seeking a report on the outcome recommendations of an engineering study expected to be completed in 2018. That study is related to improving the speed of downstream emergency notifications for the Cannonsville Reservoir. The council also released a letter to Sullivan County Manager Josh Potosek, based on a published news account that a county Information Technology Services pilot project may expand wireless services in the Town of Thompson. If successful, the same technology could provide wireless internet to residents in the Delaware River corridor. The letter sought information on any county actions to implement the expansion of wireless broadband in the river valley.