Bridges and consolidation of mental health services on the table at County Supervisors' meeting
By Cheryl Petersen
Bovina Supervisor Tina Molé chaired the March 26 Delaware County Board of Supervisors meeting in Delhi as Chairman Jim Eisel was out ill. Social Services Commissioner Bill Moon presented an award to Bloomville resident Karen Laing, Safety and Security Aide, for her versatility and dependability.
It was resolved that the county will take over the Bovina Bridge on Bovina Road. Wayne Reynolds, commissioner of Public Works, summarized, “The takeover is in line with the 21st Century Bridge Program initiated in 1994.”
The 21st Century Bridge Program originated in the ’90s, at a time when 42 percent of the bridges in Delaware County were deemed deficient by the Department of Transportation. Since then, construction standards were raised and the county began acquiring all publicly owned bridges having a span of more than 20 feet.
“Today, the county owns 291 bridges, with 12 percent deficiency,” said Reynolds.
Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller said, “Delaware County has the second highest number of bridges in New York State and the lowest population. We can thank those who had the foresight to unite and put together the 21st Century Bridge Program. The towns could not afford that high level of bridge care.”
A committee report from Community Services Board (CSB) member, Bovina Supervisor Tina Molé made known the recent move made by the CSB to seek proposals for mental health consolidation.
Lot of entities
As it stands, mental health services, consisting of the Children and Family Clinic, the Adult Mental Health Clinic, and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Clinic, have three different locations.
After the meeting, Cindy Heaney, director of mental health said, “As an employee in Delaware County for 30 years, and the director of the community services for three years, it has become clear that a consolidation of the clinics would be helpful to families and clients. They can coordinate their appointments better and the county can provide more effective treatment.”
Bids are being sought for a space of 10,000 square feet, compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, adaptable to 35 private offices, with half a dozen larger rooms for group sessions, a large conference room, a waiting room accommodating at least 40 people, and a parking area suitable for 80 vehicles.
“A consolidation at one rental location would also be more cost effective and efficient,” said Heaney.
The board voted to amend the budget designating $45,410 for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), due to additional funding available since the recently enacted Farm Bill.
“I discovered 42 percent of the SNAP recipients in Delaware County are employed but under-employed and therefore eligible for SNAP,” said Hamden Supervisor Wayne Marshfield. “The funds will be reimbursed by the Federal Government.”
The board called on Governor Cuomo and the state legislature to continue supporting a reduction in the local share of Medicaid costs by augmenting automatic federal savings that accrue to New York counties under the Affordable Care Act. “Delaware County is responsible for a Medicaid cost of $9 million, which is a financial albatross,” said Social Services Commissioner Bill Moon. “I’d love to see this cost reduced.”
Dean Frazier, commissioner of watershed, updated the board on the Delaware County Action Plan, emphasizing its successes at protecting water quality while garnering funds that also benefit municipalities, businesses, and residents. “Delaware County has received $6,498,252 over the years,” said Frazier. “And because our county has a reputation for implementing, rather than only talking, we’ve been first in line for extra monies, such as $1 million from the Water Resource Development Act, used to pay for and install 250 slip liners in county culverts.”
A resolution was passed that contained comments for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on their prepared draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Constitution Pipeline Project and Wright Interconnect Project.
“This resolution is not a ‘for or against’ statement, but contains comments from county agencies,” said Shelly Johnson Bennett, Delaware County Planning Board staff. “For example, a comment pointed out a missing reference to ‘roads’ in the EIS document.”
Protocol changes were instigated by resolution #68 for 911 emergency calls in the Town of Halcott, Greene County. “To enhance the safety for the Town of Halcott, 911 calls will be re-routed directly to Delaware County, so we can respond in a timely manner,” said Under-Sheriff, Craig DuMond. “Currently, emergency calls go to Greene County, but geographical distances make it difficult for them to respond.”
At its March 13 meeting the Delaware County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation on flood mitigation before taking measures related to the Veterans’ Service Agency, to upgrading the 911 system, and to sending messages to Governor Cuomo’s office.
Graydon Dutcher, from Delaware County Soil and Water District, gave a pictorial presentation of successful flood mitigations projects after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
Dean Frazier, commissioner of watershed affairs, spoke on behalf of the flood mitigation strategies that also include buy-outs and re-locations. “Be assured, any decision to buyout or relocate comes from the community in which it may occur,” said Frazier. “The plans are voluntary.”
Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller, said, “Middletown is thankful for all flood mitigation, however New York City Department of Environmental Protection can act slow in the decision process and if a buyout and relocation project was acceptable, prolonged decision making could be devastating to the community. The process would have to work hand-in-hand.”
Supervisor Miller also spoke up, along with other supervisors, in regard to Governor Cuomo’s February 16 proposal to provide prison inmates with taxpayer-funded college tuition, estimated at a cost of $5,000 per inmate.
The Delaware County Public Safety Committee sponsored a proposed resolution to reject Governor Cuomo’s plan to reward prison inmates by providing them with college educations at taxpayer expense. The fact this resolution did not go through other committees before coming to a vote niggled a few supervisors.
Miller expounded after the meeting said, “Typically for Delaware County, a legislative response to the State/Governor was brought forward by one committee (Public Safety) regarding an issue that concerns at least three other committees (Mental Health, Social Services and Legislative) along with many departments in the county. Instead of using the full breadth of talent and input of these committees to write a resolution the full board would have supported, the chairman typically preferred to rush a poorly written response before the full board. We must do better; the people of Delaware County deserve our best, not our laziest. While the governor’s plan to fund college credits for inmates must go hand in hand with student loan relief and increased tuition support for our young people, his goal of reducing recidivism is a worthy one, and deserves at least our full research and review by the county board.”
By a weighted vote of 1,608 to reject the rejection, and 2619 to approve the rejection of Cuomo’s proposal concerning inmate education at taxpayer’s expense, the resolution was passed.
On another matter, the board unanimously resolved to urge Governor Cuomo to refund the projected New York State tax surpluses to the taxpayers. As it stands, the estimated $2.2 billion surplus may go to counties which do not override the current two percent tax cap.
The board also approved two resolutions written by John Boecke, director of Veterans Services, supporting Blue Water Acts presented by Kinderhook’s, Congressman (R), Chris Gibson. The resolutions are meant to ensure health care to service members who could have come into contact with the air-borne chemical Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
A grant awarded to Delaware County in the amount of $179,210 was accepted by the board. The money will be used to upgrade the hardware and some software for the 911 system.