ReEntry Columbia considers bail reform’s impact

HUDSON–Bail reform, transportation, a shrinking jail population, and ReEntry Columbia’s need for new staff highlighted that organization’s Task Force meeting November 13. ReEntry Columbia, under contract with the county Board of Supervisors through the Department of Social Services, helps people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system—including those transitioning from incarceration to freedom and those awaiting trial.

Bail reform in the state will expand the number of crimes that do not require jailing a suspect and charging cash bail before the suspect is tried. The immediate effect on Columbia County is that as of January 2, when bail reform takes effect, 40% to 50% of the people in the County Jail will be released, said Ian Crimmins, an assistant public defender for the county.

Mr. Crimmins spoke about bail reform favorably. Keeping a person out of jail until found guilty “reinforces the idea of presumed innocence. Unfortunately, in the last 30 years, courts consider you guilty on arraignment.” In addition, clients out of jail are better able to participate in preparing their defense. Read more…

ICC school board awaits state OK on capital projects

KINDERHOOK–At the meeting Tuesday, November 12, the Ichabod Crane School Board heard an update on costs for the major capital improvement project that will get under way in 2020. Larry Tune from Turner Construction, the company managing the project, said the costs are about 1% over the budgeted amount and the plans still need state approval.

“We are comfortable at 1%,” he told the board. Currently the constructions costs are estimated to be about $24 million.

The project, which includes major upgrades at the high school and middle school buildings, is still in the design phase. The designs will be sent to the state Education Department (SED) for review in early December and bids for construction will be issued in April. Mr. Tune said that bids needed to go out in the spring for work to start in the summer of 2020. “We need to get to the market as soon as possible,” he said. Read more…

Copake will fix clock but sparks fly over new bookkeeper

COPAKE—Malfunctioning mechanics and nature’s force played roles in creating a few unforeseen expenses brought before the Town Board at its November 14 meeting.

In most instances, the board agreed to pony up the needed funds, but one expense—related to the impending changing of the guard in town government—sparked discord and was rejected by a majority of board members.

Town Supervisor Jeff Nayer started with some good news: the town will save money under two shared service agreements. Copake will only have to pick up one-third of the $700 cost of a new computer for Assessor Lynn Hotaling by sharing the expense with Ghent and Stuyvesant, the two other towns she serves. Read more…

Hillsdale adopts $1.8M budget; supv. leaving in 2020

HILLSDALE–The Town Board met Tuesday, November 12, and unanimously passed a $1,895,041 budget for 2020. In an email Supervisor Peter Cipkowski said that town revenues and spending will be about the same as the last two years. The Highway Department accounts for 68% of the budget.

In the county report, Supervisor Cipkowski noted that Columbia County led all counties in the state in the percentage of voters who chose to vote early, as opposed to waiting until Election Day.

But the complete numbers were not yet available at the time of the meeting and the supervisor called the delay “untenable.” Read more…

K’hook approves town budget with no tax increase

VALATIE–The Kinderhook Town Board passed a $2.7-million general fund budget for 2020 at a November 6 board meeting. Other expenses in the budget, including the two library districts, fire districts and funds for the Valatie Rescue Squad bringing the budget up to about $3.7 million.

Supervisor Pat Grattan said at the meeting that “overall, the taxes would be flat” in the year ahead.

At this year’s budget meeting, Mr. Grattan said expenses were up in some places, including for assessment work. The town will be going through an assessment update in 2020. The town contracts with the county for general assessment work, which will now cost $10 a parcel, up from $7 in the current year. Read more…