The County Beat: Details From August 9th Legislative Session

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From Amie Action, 8/15/21

Monday’s Ways & Means Committee focused mostly on referrals from other committees and a resolution to keep NY23 intact. Here are the highlights:

  • Misters Fanton (3), Curran (5), and Decker (2) were absent.
  • The committee accepted an insurance payout resulting from a fire created by a wayward bird’s nest within one of the county’s excavators. Hopefully the bird also had insurance.
  • Property Tax Director Robert Budinger, off mic, submitted a correction to a property tax rate for a Willing resident who will receive a refund.
  • County Administrator Carissa Knapp asked to accept a 500K Community Development Block Grant. This grant is awarded by the NYS Office of Community Renewal to counties with fewer than 200,000 residents and will provide mobile home replacement to eligible residents in the county including the elderly, disabled, and veterans. The grant will run until 2023 and be administered by Cattaraugus Community Action Agency out of Salamanca.
  • In the footsteps of the Cattaraugus County Legislature, a resolution was put forth urging that the 23rd Congressional District of New York remain the same when the state goes through redistricting. Because of the 2020 census all states are required to redraw district lines to best represent their changing populations. In New York this process is done by the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission. Currently our congressional district goes from Chautauqua County all the way over to Ithaca and up to Geneva. Previously, we were part of the 29th Congressional District which didn’t include Ithaca or Geneva but had parts of Monroe County instead.
    • Mr Harris (5) wanted to have a similar resolution drafted that was more general and could be adopted by other counties in WNY, specifically those who are members of the Inter-County Association of Western NY, stating “rural delegates are concerned about maintaining their autonomy from more heavily Democratic, urban centers”. County Administrator Knapp didn’t feel there would be enough time to do so.
  • The committee amended its resolution regarding the implementation of Title VI, part of the Civil Rights Act that requires compliance by all public agencies receiving federal funding, and gave County Administrator Knapp authority as Coordinator.
  • Next the committee received resolutions from other committees that required approval. This included seven from Human Services, three from Personnel, two from Public Safety, and three from Public Works. All were passed, Ms Hopkins (1) pointed out an error in the writeup of one of the Public Works Committee resolutions which was addressed before being passed. Good eye Ms Hopkins!
  • The committee went into executive session to discuss confidential matters and, unfortunately, were not brought back to live feed. The agenda stated the only remaining piece of business was in regards to filling the First Assistant County Attorney position, presented by Interim County Attorney Thomas Miner.

The Board meeting that followed continued discussion on the NY23 resolution and resulted in August being proclaimed as Immunization Awareness Month.

  • Misters Curran (5) and Decker (2) were absent.
  • The September board meeting will be held on the 10th at 2pm instead of the 13th at 2pm.
  • Received reminder of the upcoming 30th Annual Andover Wetlands Kids Fishing Contest on August 21st. There’s no entry fee for kids to compete and it’s a great family activity at the scenic Andover Wetlands.
  • Communication was received from the NY State Agriculture and Markets Office notifying the county that their 8-year review of the Agricultural District should begin June 2022
  • Chairman Crandall (1) reappointed the following people to the Allegany County Land Bank Corporation Board of Directors: David Evans of Bolivar, Edward Zalar of Cuba, and Carissa Knapp of Belmont. The County Land Bank acquires abandoned, foreclosed, or vacant properties and either restores and sells it at an affordable price or demolishes the building if necessary and makes it ready to be used again.
  • Crandall (1) also reappointed people to serve on the Allegany County Telecommunications Development Corporation Board of Directors: Craig Clark of Alfred, H Kier Dirlam of Almond, Charles Jessup of Alfred Station, Debra Root of Scio, and Jerry Scott of Cuba. The ACTDC was established by the Board of Legislators in 2015 to bring access to broadband to all Allegany County residents.
  • The majority of resolutions, 203-21 through 209-21, were passed without dissent or notable discussion. One exception was the resolution regarding the boundaries of the 23rd Congressional District as was also discussed in the Ways & Means Committee.
    • Mr Harris (5) informed the group of public hearings that had been going on throughout the state asking for testimony from residents. The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission website provides opportunities for residents to comment and share their concerns about redistricting and has archived videos of all previous public hearings. There is also a state-wide public hearing scheduled for Sunday, August 15th, however that will most likely have already passed by the time of publication. Harris stressed that the Commission isn’t interested in hearing from legislators or other elected officials on this process, only the voting public. Make your voice heard! The first redistricting proposal will be made available to the public on September 15th and you can find continually updated information on Ballotpedia. Mr Healy (2) supported Mr Harris and concluded “it’s in the best interest of us….[to remain] as much the same as possible”.
    • Mr Healy (2) abstained from voting on a resolution regarding the hiring for a First Assistant County Attorney position.
    • The whole body was very pleased to vote in favor of a resolution that would upgrade the radios on county-owned radio towers, a continuation of the work of the aforementioned ACTDC to bring broadband access to Allegany County residents.
  • The audits were read and the board voted to pay the bills.
  • Many thanks to the legislators and speakers who remembered to turn on their mics!

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