Grattan declines new term in top county post

KINDERHOOK–Town of Kinderhook Supervisor Patrick Grattan (R) has decided step down as chairman of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors for 2016. He will be succeeded by Stockport Supervisor Matt Murell (R).

“I want to thank everybody for the opportunity to be chairman of the board for four years,” Mr. Grattan said in a recent phone interview with The Columbia Paper. He was first chosen by the board as chair in 2012. Mr. Grattan became Supervisor of Kinderhook in 2010 and was reelected to another two-year term this fall. He said that though he will not be chair he will still be active on committees on the Board of Supervisors. A new chair and committee appointments are scheduled to be approved by board members at the board’s organization meeting January 4.

Mr. Grattan talked about some of his accomplishments as chairman, including having the county treasurer create monthly financial reports to give to supervisors as well as having the auditors attend the board’s September meeting to discuss their findings.

He also pointed that that the Board of Supervisors’ meetings are now recorded and played back on local cable TV public access channels.

Another accomplishment Mr. Grattan pointed to was the creation a small county department that seeks to collect revenue owed to the county, mostly in taxes. “December 1, 2012 there was $14.1 million owed,” Mr. Grattan said of tax revenues. Last year there was $8.9 million owed and $760,000 had already come in 2015.

Another major item on his list was the privatization of the Pine Haven Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility in Philmont. “We felt, after many, many meetings, presentations and long discussion, that this was the best plan moving forward for everyone involved, residents, taxpayers and the staff of Pine Haven. The process will be complete next year, but to date we have heard nothing but positive comments regarding the transition,” Mr. Grattan said in a press release from the county’s Republican Committee, “and we are thrilled with that outcome.”

Mr. Grattan said in the interview that auditors had found the county had excess cash reserves from revenues of $2.6 million in 2013 and $1.3 million in 2014. “All that money went to Pine Haven,” he said of the overages.

Under Mr. Grattan’s leadership the long-awaited revitalization of the County Courthouse was finalized, with the grand-reopening taking place last year. Mr. Grattan also talked about saving about $140,000 in assigned counsel bills for Family Court. He said the board created a Conflict Defender’s Department just to deal with Family Court cases.

The release from the Republican Committee states that over the course of his four years as chairman, taxes were raised less than 1% and only $1.8 million was used from reserves. “Mr. Grattan gave credit to the hard work of the Finance Committee” led by Supervisor Rick Keaveny (R-Canaan), and to the efforts of county department heads, who were “challenged to do more with less,” the release said.

Republicans, who hold a majority in the weighted voting system used by the Board of Supervisors, nominated Matt Murell as the new chairman at a meeting last month. Supervisor Murell has served as the majority leader and as a deputy chairman with Mr. Grattan. He has been supervisor for four years and was just re-elected to his second four-year term in Stockport.

“I’m looking forward to continuing the good work of Chairman Grattan and the board, and will continue to look for ways to make county government more efficient, to keep taxes down and still be responsive to the needs of the public,” Supervisor Murell said in the GOP release.

The board is scheduled to vote to approve Mr. Murell as chairman January 4.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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