Sullivan, briefly

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 1/21/22

MONTICELLO, NY — The Sullivan County Legislature had a busy morning of committee meetings on January 20. Here are some of the highlights. 

Management and budget …

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Sullivan, briefly

Posted

MONTICELLO, NY — The Sullivan County Legislature had a busy morning of committee meetings on January 20. Here are some of the highlights. 

Management and budget committee

Representatives from the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce appeared before the management and budget committee to request $50,000 in discretionary funding. 

The county has awarded a little under $300,000 in discretionary funding each of the past three years, according to the 2022 budget, benefiting such organizations as the Boys and Girls Club, the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, and Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties. 

The chamber had taken over management of Bagelfest the previous year, said chamber president and CEO Jaimie Schmeiser. The Monticello-based festival brings together a great diversity of businesses from across the county, with businesses of different ethnicities and religious affiliations coming together to celebrate the bagel, according to Schmeiser; the chamber requested $35,000 in funding for the next year's bagel-bash. 

The chamber also requested $15,000 to fund classes and strategic planning for itself and for its businesses. "We want to create a culture of united businesses and create a united culture for business," said Schmeiser. 

Legislator Joe Perello raised questions about the fairness of appropriating county funds for an event such as Bagelfest; he had no qualms with funding the chamber, he said, but he wanted to make sure the process was fair for any event coming to the county looking for discretionary funds. 

Other legislators echoed Perello's support for the chamber and said that the specifics of its funding request could be researched and deliberated on at a further time. 

The committee also heard a request for discretionary funds from Larry Whipple, president of Tri Valley Little League. 

The league was in a better position than many of the others in the county, said Whipple, and was in a good position for growth and to accept children from other regions. It requested $5,000 in discretionary funding to help fund a recent purchase of bleachers. 

Parks, agriculture and sustainability policy committee

During the second committee meeting of the day, sustainability coordinator Heather Brown informed the legislature about her department's response to the draft scoping plan released by New York's Climate Action Council. 

The Climate Action Council was established in 2019 with the task of creating a draft scoping plan to guide New York's climate strategy. It released this plan on December 20, 2021, and is holding public comment on it between January 1 and May 1, 2022. 

The office of sustainability has been trying to digest the plan since its release, said Brown. The office is currently working to break the plan into easily understandable chunks so that people within Sullivan County can know about it and comment upon it. 

That way, no one will be blindsided when the plan's recommendations become regulations, she added.

For more information on the draft scoping plan, see "The NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Comes of Age" at riverreporter.com/sustainability. 

Public works committee

Recycling coordinator Bill Cutler raised the question of household hazardous waste in the morning's meeting of the public works committee. Was the legislature looking to hold one hazardous waste event in 2022, he asked, or none, or more than one?

One for sure, said Perello. Was there a need for two?

Legislators agreed that holding two events would be money well spent. 

Cutler also floated the idea that the county look to establish a permanent toxic waste facility. 

Towns and villages couldn't handle their toxic waste without acquiring the proper permits, said Cutler, permits that could be expensive and cumbersome to attain. That made a central drop-off point the easiest concept to support.  

Using a central point to host singular hazardous waste events was useful, said Cutler. But in the long run, having a permanent facility could save the county on costs, and people could arrange to drop hazardous materials off at their convenience without having to wait for an event. 

And there's no end in sight for hazardous waste in our society, he added. 

Human resources committee

Most of the resolutions before the human resources committee passed without concern. The exception created an admissions coordinator position at the Care Center at Sunset Lake. 

"I will vote for this with reservations," said legislator Nadia Rajsz. She and Perello questioned why the county was doing the hiring for the adult care center after Infinite Care took over the management of the facility. 

Employees at the care center have to remain employees of the county until the centers' certificate of need is transferred, said county manager Josh Potosek. Julie Diescher, the county's commissioner of human resources, added that the position had existed previously as a shared role with a marketing component to it. 

The resolution ultimately passed 4-1, with Rajsz opposed.

Health and family services committee

The care center came up again in discussions during the day's final committee meeting. 

Family services commissioner John Liddle appeared before the committee to discuss a resolution. Through the resolution, the county would enter into an agreement with "Sunset Lake Consulting LLC," identified in the meeting as being affiliated with management company Infinite Care, for that LLC to provide comprehensive medical and dental services to the residents at the care center. 

Because the county still held the certificate of need, it still had an obligation to provide those services, said Liddle. The resolution authorized $800,700 for the provision of services; according to Liddle, arranging with Infinite Care to provide services would save the county around $300,000 compared to years previously. 

All expenses for these services would be paid from the county's general fund, said county attorney Mike McGuire, and all revenues from insurance payouts and the like would go back to that same account. The county and Infinite Care would reconcile their figures quarterly to ensure that the county remained at net zero. 

Legislator Luis Alvarez objected to the resolution, asking that Potosek discuss the figures with legislators the next time they were reconciled. He found it hard to trust the words of those within county government without seeing the figures for himself, he said. 

There were lots of good people involved in drafting the agreement, said legislator Michael Brooks, and the legislature should have trust in them. 

Potosek said he would show legislators the reconciliation figures when they came in.  

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