Image: Joyce Tice

Tonight the Chemung County Legislature held its monthly Standing Committee meetings.

Unfortunately, the WiFi connection for the livestream I provide during the meetings was lost just minutes after they began – something I did not realize until the meetings ended.

To that end, please let me know if there is anyone out there interested in assisting in this effort by using my phone to livestream meetings of the Legislature and/or CCIDA as it is not possible for me to pay attention to the livestream after the meetings begin. Ideally this type of help will insure things like a dropped WiFi signal or a sideways view don’t go unnoticed until such time that Chemung County begins providing livestream services itself.

Below is my best recollection of what stood out tonight.

Clerk of the Legislature

Tonight’s meeting started with sad – and frankly startling news – that Linda Palmer, the Legislature’s Clerk for the past 30 years – is retiring due to health problems. Linda began her remarks by stating that she began considering retirement last year in order to spend more time with her family, and the recent onset of medical conditions made it clear to her that retirement is the right choice for now. In just the few short months I have served on the Legislature, it has become obvious how much Linda contributes to county government. She will be greatly missed by everyone.

County Executive Moss

Following Linda’s announcement, County Executive Moss offered a very informative presentation about many things he and his administration have been working on since the start of the year. Moss has graciously agreed to provide a copy of the Power Point slides he used while presenting, and I will share them as soon as they are received.

The big take-aways for me were as follows:

  • Chemung County’s arrangement with the City of Elmira for employee healthcare coverage is costly. According to a Moss, payouts for healthcare claims by Elmira employees have resulted in expenditures from Chemung County of more than $1,500,000 over the past three years – something that causes Moss to question whether the current arrangement is sustainable. This is a very important development as the City-County commission Moss established earlier this year continues to look very carefully for ways Chemung County can help Elmira shore up its fiscal situation.
  • Moss is planning to announce the name of the new Director of the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) on Thursday morning. This individual will also serve as the head of Southern Tier Economic Growth (STEG) but will be a full-time CCIDA employee serving under contract with STEG. This is a significant change from recent practice.
  • Moss recently received word that officials in Albany will allow Chemung County to alter the sales tax allocation plan that was established last fall. Under the two year contract, towns and villages received small increases in sales tax revenue while the City of Elmira saw its time for repaying certain funds to Chemung County extended out for a few years. There was great interest during last year’s elections about new ways to allocate these funds, particularly if it can help Elmira. However, Moss cautioned tonight that Albany will not approve renegotiation of the plan if it results in decreases of funds toward any municipality, potentially impeding the options available to county and other municipal leaders until late 2020.
  • As with healthcare coverage for Elmira employees, Moss is evaluating the coverage plans for all Chemung County employees. This includes both union and single-rate workers. Although negotiations are not yet complete, Moss indicated the likelihood is that he will recommend increases in the percentage of pay used to cover healthcare plans.
  • Moss discussed numerous other matters as well, including concerns about infrastructure at the Chemung County Fairgrounds and Harris Hill and problems with a large amount ($400,000 worth) of dirt inside of the courtyard at the Chemung County Airport that will somehow need to be removed.

The Committee Meetings

Nothing particularly noteworthy occurred at the Standing Committee meetings aside from approval of a bid for work on a Stormwater Improvement project on Coleman Avenue in the Town of Elmira. Work on the project is slated to begin this spring, with a second phase occurring in 2020.

Christina Sonsire