Sullivan County’s news of the month

Almost live on Facebook 

By ANNEMARIE SCHEUTZ
Posted 9/8/20

MONTICELLO, NY — The Sullivan County town halls are back. 

They are back with a new name but the same mission: to share county news, by the county, for everyone who wants to know their …

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Sullivan County’s news of the month

Almost live on Facebook 

Posted

MONTICELLO, NY — The Sullivan County town halls are back. 

They are back with a new name but the same mission: to share county news, by the county, for everyone who wants to know their perspective. It’s available on the county’s Facebook site and YouTube channel. Previously submitted questions are welcome.

The first show aired Monday, August 31. 

Legislature vice-chair Mike Brooks and chairman Rob Doherty worked briskly through a list of topics, from Sullivan County’s recent COVID-19 case increase to the energy tax. 

Here are the highlights:

On the four percent residential energy tax: Doherty said the legislature has been discussing different ways of addressing the county’s fiscal crisis. The energy tax will affect all residents, not just property owners. “We thought this was the fairest way to go.” He added,” We’re not looking for this permanently.” 

On exceeding the property tax cap: In other words, temporarily raising property taxes. They haven’t decided to go this route yet, but “we wanted to have a tool on the table during the budgetary process,” Doherty said. If necessary, the increase would offset state aid cuts. While uncertain, the county is anticipating a $5.2 million decrease. 

On the census: Said Brooks, ”We’re falling further back.” Doherty said, “If we miss 20 percent of our population, that affects us greatly.” The county stands to lose thousands of dollars in aid per missed person. 

On LDCs: “They’re their own entity,” Doherty said. LDCs have a mission set out by the legislature but “don’t have to listen to us anymore.” As such, he said, they can make the best decisions for the county because they aren’t bound by political considerations. “A political body, as you know, becomes political very quickly.” 

On MOVE Sullivan: “We’re going to change some of the routes,” Doherty said. “Most people use the buses to go to work.” There was a discussion about how difficult it can be for someone without transportation to get around, even in places like Monticello. Costs of getting to and from a job can rapidly devour wages.

On evening meetings: Evening meetings have never been successful, they said. County workers have to extend their day to show up, and onlookers seem to prefer doing something other than going to meetings in the evenings. 

On COVID-19: “Our COVID[-19] numbers, that seemed pretty dormant for a while... in the last seven to 10 days “ have been increasing, Doherty said. The county dashboard lists 30 active cases, 3 people hospitalized, none on a ventilator and 50 deaths total. “People are getting lax on wearing a face mask, washing their hands.” Jars of hand sanitizer are full now. “You have to be vigilant. You have to understand. Flu season is just around the corner.” 

And finally: They stressed the legislature’s desire to not burden taxpayers further. They thanked communications director Dan Hust for putting the new town halls together. “Let’s Talk Sullivan” will air at the end of each month, clarifying whatever happened in the weeks before.

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