County ponders dump closure, taking land, carrying guns and iPads

HUDSON–Thirty years in the making, the town of New Lebanon finally has a tentative deal to officially close the county’s only remaining landfill, one of just 12 left in the state.

The news was reported to the Public Works Committee of the Board of Supervisors April 23 by Supervisor Michael Benson (R-New Lebanon).

The committee also learned that tentative assessment rolls will be filed May 1 and be available on the county’s website by May 3. Grievance dates and applications will be on the website by May 1.

County Attorney Robert J. Fitzsimmons presented a draft of the proposed agreement between the county and New Lebanon that will allow the town to apply for a grant to receive up to 90% reimbursement from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for costs associated with closing the landfill. The cost to the county is $625,000, payable over five years in $125,000 annual installments.

New Lebanon is under a consent order with the DEC to close, or decommission, the landfill. The site opened in 1981 and has been closed to solid waste since 1986.

After the meeting Mr. Benson said by email that the total cost of the landfill project is $1.6 million, with 90% of that funding coming from the DEC. The town must monitor and maintain the site for 30 years at an approximate cost of $22,000 per year.

“We are asking the county for $625,000, and we will complete the closure and ‘self-perform’ the maintenance with a combination of our own funding and the 90% from DEC,” he said. “My goal from the start was to find a workable solution to this 30-year problem. I believe this is the right one for our town and the county,” Mr. Benson said.

Also at the meeting the committee:

Considered a request from County Clerk Holly Tanner asking the board to issue a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for records management software. The current software was purchased in 2005, and Ms. Tanner cited several ongoing issues that contributed to the decision not to renew the $18,000 annual maintenance contract with the vendor. A new system needs to be able to handle multiple checking accounts, meet reporting requirements, record deeds, and permit public access. The expected cost is $72,000.

Heard Ms. Tanner report that assault weapon registry was implemented April 15 in compliance with the state SAFE Act. And the Favor Program is now expanded to include regional merchants in neighboring counties, giving ID cards to honorably discharged veterans that entitle them to receive discounts.

Heard from Real Property Tax Service Agency Director Suzette Booy whose agency submitted requests for training in Manufactured Home Park Valuation and Commercial Data Collection, for costs of $120 and $1,380, respectively.

Considered Democratic Election Commissioner Virginia Martin’s request an increase in pay for clerical inspectors from $11 to $12, noting that upgrading inspectors should reduce the number of staff required to run the election efficiently. She also reported that by printing ballots in house, coupled with using Schoharie County’s software and database management program, the county is saving approximately $30,000 annually.

Heard a request to authorize lowering of the flag to half-staff May 15, the national day honoring law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty, and in conjunction with National Police Week, May 12-18.

Heard County Attorney Fitzsimmons and Chairman Kevin McDonald (R-Livingston) discussed an exemption from the Workplace Violence Policy to allow for supervisors to be permitted to carry guns on County property so long as they have valid permits. The exemption requires them to give a copy of their permit to the clerk of the Board of Supervisors, and the board will give a list of those officials to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, which will keep the information confidential.

Discussed plans to extend the Columbia County Airport. The county will take the land by eminent domain, and there is a public hearing scheduled at the Board of Supervisors Meeting May 8. Concurrently, attempts are being made to reach an agreement in price with the current owner, CM Enterprises, which is asking for substantially more than the fair market appraised value of $629,000. Although the eminent domain process could be completed by August, CM Enterprises could tie up the legal process for an additional three years.

Heard the county’s chief technology officer, Richard Juliano, present a plan for paperless committee meetings, using electronic media, for a savings of $1,000 annually in paper and printing costs. This cost does not include labor associated with preparing and distributing meeting documents. He also noted that, as part of the plan, the county could provide electronic media devices to each supervisor, for an additional cost ranging from $5,750 to $11,500, depending upon the type of device.

Board Chairman Pat Grattan (R-Kinderhook) commented that each supervisor may prefer to use personal devices to maintain privacy.

Supervisor Benson added that Rensselaer County issued iPads to all supervisors and has eliminated paper for meetings. The system would require a login ID for security, and tutorials would be provided.

 

 

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