Continuity at top, but change comes to both parties
HUDSON — Supervisor Roy Brown (R-Germantown) was reelected without opposition as chairman of the county Board of Supervisors at the board’s annual organization meeting Tuesday evening, January 4.
Also retaining their leadership positions on the board are Majority Leader Elizabeth Young (R-Taghkanic) and Valerie Bertram (R-Stuyvesant) as deputy majority leader. Larry Andrews (R-Ghent) and Bart Delaney (R-Hudson, 5th Ward) will serve as vice chairmen.
On the Democratic side, Supervisor Raymond Staats (Clermont) and Robin Andrews (Claverack) will lead the minority. The former minority leader, Jesse DeGroodt (Chatham), resigned from his leadership post at the beginning of December did not seek reappointment to the position. He has dropped his enrollment in the Democratic Party, although the state’s arcane election law does not allow the change to become effective until after the November 2011 election.
After he was sworn in for his new term Mr. Brown addressed the board in the meeting room at 401 State Street. He promised to closely monitor pay cuts and funding cuts in Albany and respond accordingly with contingency plans. He advised holding off on purchases and hiring until it’s clear what Albany will do, and said that sacrifices by county employees, including staff reductions and cost cutting over the past five years, have led to lower taxes.
“Partisan politics of the state must end. We must work together in a bipartisan fashion,” he said.
Mr. Brown said economic recovery, tourism and greater efficiencies in county government are his priorities for the coming year.
Part of the anticipated efficiency in county government may come from a reorganization of committees, which cuts their number from 19 to less than half that. Supervisors were told that they would receive a draft of the plan to vote on at the next meeting.
Supervisor William Hughes Jr. (D-Hudson, 4th Ward) objected to voting without knowing exactly what the committees would be.
“You’ll have the changes next week,” said Mr. Brown.
“We are actually voting on the changes before they take place,” complained William Hallenbeck, Jr. (R-Hudson, 3rd Ward).
One of the changes that took place quietly this week was the appointment of County Treasurer Ken Wilber as county budget officer. The tasks associated with that position had been delegated to Supervisor Art Baer (R-Hillsdale) after he lost his job as chairman of the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Baer, who already parted ways with the GOP in his town, winning on an independent line rather than as a Republican in the 2007 election, faced harsh criticism from the heads of the county Republican, Conservative and Independence parties several weeks ago. The party chiefs demanded in a letter that he be removed from office.
Democratic Party officials declined to sign the letter drafted by the heads of the other parties condemning Mr. Baer.
Questions facing the county involve not only management of budget and staff, but what the county should do about the old Ockawamick School in Claverack, purchased when Mr. Baer was chairman, where to house county agencies and the proposal to hire a county administrator.
Mr. Brown did not comment on that change at the county level involving Mr. Baer, and Mr. Baer could not be reached for comment after the meeting.
Mr. DeGroodt, whose term as Chatham supervisor expires this year, said he was evaluating his options.