County’s ‘stress’ fades with sale of Pine Haven

HUDSON–The Columbia County Board of Supervisors received optimistic financial updates, approved the doubling of some county bus fares and authorized $7.3 million bonds for capital projects at that full board meeting Wednesday, October 12.

The county received a “free of fiscal stress” rating from the state Comptroller’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System, which “creates a fiscal condition score” based on nine financial indicators, such as the county’s fund balance and cash-on-hand, according to a press release that Board Chairman Matt Murell (R-Stockport) made available at the meeting. The press release also indicated that, according to Mr. Murell, “Columbia County is enjoying its third year in a row with a modest surplus.”

Mr. Murell, via the press release, identified the sale of Pine Haven Nursing Home as one factor contributing to the county’s fiscal health. However, toward the end of the 2015 Audit Review, which preceded the regular meeting, Supervisor John Reilly (R-Gallatin) wondered whether the deletion of Pine Haven employees would affect the county health insurance program for its remaining employees.

Among the other resolutions the board adopted unanimously at the meeting was one that doubled the price some riders will pay for within-county municipal bus trips, effective 2017. The Hudson-Greenport Shopping Shuttle (seven loops a day, Monday-Saturday) will go from $1 to $2 a ride. Fares on the once-a-week runs to Hudson and back will go from $1 for senior citizens and $2.50 for others to $2 for everybody. Fares to Albany (single and multiple) will remain unchanged, though on the Albany buses (four round trips a weekday), fares between some intermediate points will increase.

At a committee meeting last month supervisors said they had held a public hearing on the bus fare increase proposal on September 12, and the only person who came was another supervisor.

Johnson & Pulcher, Inc. of Philmont runs the buses. The once-a-week routes to Hudson serve Philmont, Mellenville, and Claverack (Monday); Germantown, Stottville, and Stuyvesant (Tuesday); Ancramdale (Wednesday); and Livingston (Thursday).

Another resolution authorized bonds to pay for the following capital items:

• Road, sidewalk, curb, gutter, and related incidental improvements, for up to a million dollars, with an expected “probable usefulness” of about 15 years

• Bridge and related incidental improvements, for up to $4,575,000, with a “probable usefulness” of about 20 years

• “Public Safety 911 communications system improvements, including radios and towers,” for up to $1,200,000, with a “probable usefulness” of about 15 years

• “Purchase of heavy equipment,” for up to $500,000, with a “probable usefulness” of about 15 years.

The next full Board of Supervisors meeting will be Wednesday, November 9, at 7:30 p.m. at 401 State Street.

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