HUDSON—Columbia County consists of 18 towns, four villages and one city. It covers 648 square miles and is inhabited by almost 63,000 people. As of August 2014, the county employed just over 1,000 people, 724 of them full time. The budget approved for 2016 is $146.6 million.
Nevertheless, on January 4 the Board of Supervisors reorganized the county in 21 minutes flat. This included taking a break to swear in the supervisors, before returning to formal session.
This efficiency stemmed in part from not changing any of the higher-level staff. For example, Robert Fitzsimmons remains county attorney and Robert Linville public defender. Ron Caponera stays on as controller/auditor and Richard Juliano is still chief technology officer. Kenneth J. Flood continues as commissioner of planning and economic development (although a week later he reportedly announced his departure). Jason Natske and Virginia Martin stay on as election commissioners for the Republicans and Democrats, respectively. These appointments were made as part of the first 33 resolutions of the year.
The reorganization meeting is a formal restart for county government. To no one’s surprise, Matt B. Murell (R-Stockport) was elected chairman of the Board of Supervisors by voice vote, but only then could Mr. Murell assign the committees where much of the board’s work is done; those assignments were announced January 5 via email. The main committees, their chairs and deputies are as follows:
- .1 (Salary): Chair, Patrick Grattan (R-Kinderhook); Deputy William Hughes Jr.
- County Government (County Clerk, Board of Supervisors clerk, MIS, Real Property, Planning, Tourism, Civil Service): Chair, Clifford Weigelt (R-Claverack); Deputy, Joel Craig (R-Germantown)
- Economic Development: Chair, John Reilly (R-Gallatin); Deputy, Robert Lagonia (NOP, Austerlitz)
- Finance: Chair, Richard Keaveney (R-Canaan), Deputy, Mr. Murell.
- Health & Medical (Public Health, Mental Health, Pine Haven Home): Chair, Mr. Grattan; Deputy, Sarah Sterling (D-Hudson, 1st Ward)
- Human Services (DSS, Youth, Office for the Aging, Veterans): Chair, Mr. Murell; Deputy, Mr. Hughes Jr.
- Public Safety (Sheriff, E911, EMS, Fire, Probation, DA, Coroner): Chair, Michael Benvenuto (R-Ghent); Deputy, Jeffrey Nayer (R-Copake)
- Public Works (Engineering, Highway, Solid Waste, Facilities): Chair, Ronald Knott (R-Stuyvesant), Deputy, James Guzzi (R-Livingston)
Additional subcommittees also meet as needed, reporting to the main committees. The new schedule for committee meetings can be found at the Board Calendar link on columbiacountyny.com.