Drastic times for Sullivan County

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 8/26/20

MONTICELLO, NY — August 20 was a busy day for the Sullivan County Legislature. It held a public executive committee meeting, two public hearings, a general session meeting and an executive …

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Drastic times for Sullivan County

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MONTICELLO, NY — August 20 was a busy day for the Sullivan County Legislature. It held a public executive committee meeting, two public hearings, a general session meeting and an executive session closed to the public (www.bit.ly/sclegis820).

Findings of an annual financial audit performed by accounting firm Drescher & Maleek, LLP were presented to the legislature at the public executive committee meeting, which ran long, due both to the complex audit presentation and dialogue among legislators about cost-cutting measures, chiefly those concerning the Care Center at Sunset Lake.

The legislature authorized expenditure of $2.5 million from its fund balance to cover the care center’s operating costs through year-end 2020. But it was the county’s long-term solution to the care center’s high operating costs that drew most attention: the proposed formation of a local development corporation to oversee outsourcing of care center management.

Dissension resulted in a 6-3 vote in favor of authorizing the formation of a local not-for-profit development corporation (Sunset Lake Local Development Corporation), the responsibilities of which will be limited to acquiring, financing and disposal/leasing of the land and facilities of Sunset Lake Care Center. The five directors of the Sunset Lake Local Development Corporation will serve three-year terms from the date of its incorporation unless appointed by virtue of a director’s public office, in which case their terms will run concurrently with term of office, or whichever is less. Upon completion of its stated duties, the corporation will be dissolved and all net proceeds will be paid to the county.

District 8 legislator Ira Steingart prefaced his opposition vote with the statement that he was not opposed to the formation of the corporation. He said he thinks it is a better option than the sale of the care center, but he has reservations about the many unknowns associated with the prospect and process of outsourcing the care center administration to a management company.

Other dissenting votes came from District 6 legislator Luis Alvarez and District 2 legislator Nadia Rajsz. Alvarez knows firsthand the quality of care provided by the center under county management—his wife has been a longtime patient there. Rajsz, herself a health care professional and one of the five corporation directors, is opposed to outsourcing care center management.

One aspect of the outsourcing process was made perfectly clear: The legislature will have final say on selection of the management company. The corporation is tasked with finding capable management companies amenable to, and suitable for, management of the county’s care center. But the legislature will decide which candidate gets the job.

There was unanimous agreement on extension of furloughed county workers’ health insurance through Wednesday, September 30, a one-month extension of the original plan to offer it through Monday, August 31. Health insurance continuance assumes that furloughed workers will be rehired.

A public hearing for amendment of the county’s Ethics Law has been scheduled for Thursday, September 17 at 10:30 a.m.

Larysa Dyrszka, MD, of White Lake was appointed to the Department of Public Health Services Advisory Board. Dyrszka starts a new four-year term, filling the vacant seat of a term that began on January 1, 2017.

The legislators agreed to pursue the $86,868.50 census award for which it is now eligible, 50 percent of the original award allocated to the county. The money will be used for completion of census surveys in a county with one of the lowest response rates in the state.

Of the two public hearings held, one comment only was made regarding the Sullivan County Community College 2020-21 budget proposal: that this institution represents a second chance for county residents stuck in dead-end, low-paying jobs since high school. The other public hearing, on dissolution of the county’s Human Rights Commission (www.sullivanny.us/Departments/Humanrights), drew from that commission’s chair and vice chair the question, “Why, in this time of nationwide racial unrest and strained community-police relations, is an entity devoted to allaying both being eliminated?”

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