Delaware Board backs DEP intern program


By Matthew J. Perry
The Delaware County Board of Supervisors, at its March 12 meeting, extended its support and enthusiasm for a New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) internship program that is set to begin in June.
The DEP’s Bureau of Water Supply will offer paid internships to 10 students, either from college programs or graduating high school seniors, who will work at DEP stations in Delaware, Greene, Sullivan, Ulster and Schoharie counties.
“Interns will be placed in assignments that focus on engineering and scientific disciplines and will include tasks in water supply and wastewater treatment operations, water quality, watershed protection, and administration,” read a DEP press release that was made available at the meeting. While the release did not explicitly state who will be eligible, it was clear to members of the board that the DEP intends to fill the positions with local applicants.
In addition, according to Andes Supervisor Marty Donnelly, the DEP is hoping to inaugurate a work-study program in regional high schools, with Andes Central School slated to be the launch point. Positions would be open to sophomores and seniors, and would include maintenance and manual labor, specifically to cater to students who are not intending to move on to college.
Both measures were hailed as an attempt to create jobs for local youths. But Chairman Jim Eisel stated that DEP commissioners are also projecting employment shortages for coming years and are intent on avoiding them, in part, by focusing on training at the local level. “To lose a job is tough, but to create a job it’s tougher,” he said. “This internship program will be a great opportunity for young people to participate in a work program. Every job created is an investment in Delaware County’s economic future.”
Donnelly felt that the internship program could be the beginning of greater community awareness of the opportunities the DEP can provide. “A lot of people don’t know they’re a large employer that wants to hire locally,” he said. “This can be a way for young people to stay home and have a good job.”
Those who wish to apply for an internship should submit a resume by April 25 to NYCDEP, BWS, PO Box 358, Grahamsville, NY 12740.
In other business, the board unanimously passed three resolutions that collectively formed a loud complaint against the costs of various programs shifting from the state to the county level.
Resolution 62 included two figures which encapsulated the board’s dissatisfaction with county tax burdens. The first, from the Citizens Budget Commission, declares that New York’s local taxes are 79 percent higher than the national average; second, the Tax Foundation of Washington, DC identified nine New York counties as carrying median real estate taxes at the highest percentage of median home values, out of the top 10 counties nationwide.
Resolution 63 then noted that an “unprecedented” proposal from the 2008-2009 Executive Budget would shift the entirety of costs for juvenile detention facilities to the counties. At present, the state reimburses the counties for half the costs of secure and non-secure youth detention. Resolution 64 protested that the “Executive Budget has broken a historic, fundamental state/local partnership” by shifting two percent of public assistance expense to the counties, altering a 50-50 split that had been in place since 1938.
“We’ve been through this before,” said Chairman Eisel. “We’re forced to either cut services or raise taxes. State programs continue to grow, and [they] don’t cut anything and I think it’s time [they] did.
Social Services Com- missioner William Moon described a “slippery slope” that would be encountered should the state continue to alter financial arrangements with the counties.