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18 May
0

AMERICAN STIMULUS PLAN TO PROVIDE $16 MILLION TO CHEMUNG COUNTY

The American Stimulus Plan, passed earlier this year by the United States Federal Government, will provide $16 million in funds to Chemung County to address local impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and help energize our local economy.

The New York Association of Counties (NYSAC) published a thorough overview of the American Rescue Plan, found here and embedded below, at the start of May.

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The United States Treasury also provides a good overview found here.

Over the next few months Chemung County’s government will be tasked with deciding how to best allocate the $16 million. The images below, taken from NYSAC’s May publication, describe the parameters for how the money may be spent.

The Chemung County Legislature would like as much input from the public as possible about how to best allocate the $16 million within the confines shown above. Please provide any feedback you can ahead of our next Standing Committees meetings scheduled for May 24th at 7:00 and I will be sure to pass it along.

You can share feedback and ask questions about this issue by leaving a comment directly to this blog post, on the Chemung County Matters Facebook page, or by sending an email to csonsire@chemungcountyny.gov.

Christina Sonsire

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09 Feb
1

$48,000 for a consultant. Where does the money come from?

On February 8, 2021, Chemung County’s Legislature voted 11-3 — with Legislators Mark Margeson, Bill McCarthy and myself voting no — to form a committee comprised only of sitting legislators to study legislative redistricting following the 2020 census as well as “governmental efficiency.”

The Legislature also voted 11-3* — again with Legislators Mark Margeson, Bill McCarthy and myself voting no — to authorize spending up to $48,000 for the Center of Governmental Research (“CGR”) to do the committee’s work of researching, analyzing and writing a report.

I wrote a detailed blog post about these issues yesterday, found here. In the post, I mentioned that there is a significant difference of opinion between County Executive Moss and members of the Legislature over how the $48,000 appropriation would be funded. I didn’t provide much background at that time because I hoped the Legislature would vote against an expenditure like this at a time when both local government and local businesses face significant economic hardship due to the pandemic.

However, the issue of who pays is now clearly relevant. The purpose of this post is to provide information to the public about it.

(Although the Legislature has 15 members, one was absent from the meeting.)

The Meeting

A video recording of last night’s meeting can be found here and is embedded below. The portions of the meeting that focused on the committee and consultant expenditure are found as set forth below.

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08 Feb
1

Redistricting, Efficiency & the Legislative Agenda: an overview

A current map of Chemung County’s 15 Legislative Districts

Three Resolutions that will come before the Chemung County Legislature tonight have garnered a great deal of attention. The purpose of this post is to provide a factual overview of them, explain the opinions I have formed to this point, and solicit further input from the community to help the Legislature make the best decisions possible.

Where to find information

A full copy of the Agenda for tonight’s meeting can be found here.

The three Resolutions garnering interest are:

  • 21-056 (Resolution establishing a “Legislative Redistricting and Efficiency of County Government Operations Advisory Committee” on behalf of the Chairman of the Legislature), found here;
  • 21-085 (Resolution authorizing an agreement with the Center for Governmental Research on behalf of the Chairman of the Legislature), found here; and
  • 21-113 (Resolution Adopting a “Chemung County Legislature Route Slip and Resolution Policy”), found here.

Meetings of the Legislature have not re-opened for in-person attendance by the public due to covid concerns, a decision that rests with Dave Manchester, the Legislature’s Chairperson. Chairperson Manchester told members of the Legislature he will have discussions with the Vice Chairperson and Majority/Minority Leaders soon to develop a re-opening plan. A description of the current meeting rules is found here.

However, the meeting will be broadcast via live-stream here starting at 7:00 pm. Please note the link for the live-stream will not appear until the moment the meeting begins.

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10 Nov
2

Chemung County’s 2021 budget process is underway

Chemung County Executive Chris Moss released his proposed budget for 2021 on November 9th, kicking off a busy month for all county officials. The purpose of this post is to inform the public about the schedule and budget content that has been released so far.

Budget Workshop Schedule

The Chemung County Legislature will hold a series of workshops and meetings along with a Public Hearing in coming weeks according to the schedule below.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, all workshops, meetings and hearings are closed to the public. However, they will be live-streamed here, and recordings will be posted to the same place.

If you have questions or concerns that you wish to be addressed at the workshops, please send an email to me at csonsire@chemungcountyny.us and I will be sure to pass them along.

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08 Sep
0

In-person attendance again permitted at Chemung County Legislature meetings

Image: newsbreak.com

Since March, members of the public have not been permitted to attend meetings of the Chemung County Legislature pursuant to a New York State Executive Order that allows municipal governments to meet remotely without public attendance in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

All meetings (aside from one due to technical problems) were live-streamed on Chemung County’s website, and recordings and Minutes were later published in accordance with the Executive Order and New York’s Open Meetings laws. The recordings and Minutes can be found here.

Although the Executive Order remains in effect, starting tonight members of the public may attend meetings of the Legislature subject to specific protocols set forth below:

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19 Aug
1

Q&A with County Executive Chris Moss regarding COVID

Image: Star Gazette

Throughout the past few weeks numerous questions have been asked on several social media platforms and through email about Chemung County’s response to COVID-19 and the specific acts that are being undertaken by our local government.

Today County Executive Chris Moss held a press conference where he answered many of them.

I also put several questions in writing to County Executive Moss based on what I have read on social media and in email correspondence from the public, and he took the time to provide me with thorough written answers to share with the community.

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27 Jul
0

UPDATE: Economic predictions for Chemung County & a proposal for live-streaming meetings

While there are a host of serious issues facing Chemung County right now, two require special attention. First, the economic predictions for Chemung County brought on by COVID-19 are dire and will necessitate some very hard decisions when local officials begin preparing the 2021 budget this fall.

Second, the Chemung County Legislature’s Multi Services Committee will vote on measure to provide live-streaming at all meetings of the Legislature, something that can be done at an exceedingly minimal cost and will go a long way toward promoting transparency for our community.

Dire Economic Predictions

Chemung County, like many communities across the United States, faces an increasingly uncertain economic future. New York State’s Association of Counties published an updated report setting forth its economic predictions at the end of last week. A copy of the report can be found here and is also embedded below.

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Several charts are particularly interesting as they begin to show the scale and breadth of what looks to be a looming economic crisis for New York State.

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06 Jul
0

Widespread financial impact of COVID-19 on local municipalities beginning to take shape

There has been little debate throughout the past few months among local officials surrounding one key aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic: the financial impact on municipalities, including Chemung County, will be substantial.

Sales tax proceeds, a key component of most municipalities’ operational budgets, has diminished drastically since March. Specifically, Chemung County is approximately $2.5 million behind projected revenues through mid-June, and losses are expected to continue throughout the remainder of the year.

Moreover, Chemung County has been advised to expect delays in payments from New York State for various reimbursement programs, and to anticipate the possibility of a 20% reduction in assistance from the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) for at least this year. Together with the potential for fixed costs such as utility rates and insurance premiums to rise throughout coming months, there is no question we need to begin looking for ways to help ease what may be significant budgetary shortfalls in 2020.

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10 Jun
1

COVID updates for Chemung County residents

This morning Chemung County Executive Chris Moss provided members of the Legislature with an extremely thorough update of matters related to COVID-19 and the reopening of our community.

I am sharing Moss’ update on this forum with his permission:

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Local Infection Rate

The overall rate of positive infections continues to decrease throughout not only Chemung County but the Southern Tier Region, to which we are assigned.  We have definitely flattened the curve and now the main focus involving public health safety is about avoiding clusters and having appropriate tracing if we do discover clusters or a spike in the numbers.  Pete Buzzetti and his team continue to do a phenomenal job on a daily basis involving the overall pandemic.

Park Station

Chemung County will be opening Park Station for camping on 06/15/2020.  The county uses a company called Reserve America who handles reservations for Park Station.  The majority of our 40 campsites have already been booked for the summer, as bookings started previous to the corona virus outbreak.  Several new protocols involving cleaning and disinfecting, new signage and new waivers have all had to be completed in order to open the campground.  One of the main obstacles for opening the beach are the guidelines provided by the state.  Multiple cleanings and disinfections to bathrooms, changing rooms, sanitation stations and etc. have to be conducted on a routine basis.  The county has been able to secure the correct number of lifeguards and had to bring them on this week in order to secure them or they would have been looking for other jobs.    The park is currently open for fishing, hiking and picnicking.  The main pavilions at Harris Hill and Park Station remain closed via the 10 person maximum gathering Executive Order signed by the Governor.

Horse Shows

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29 May
1

Confusion surrounds New York’s economic re-opening process

Image: WETM

*Please note this is a developing issue. I wanted to get a post out as soon as possible to help provide some guidance about what is happening, but things may change rapidly. I will do my best to provide updates as new information becomes available.

**UPDATE – Governor Cuomo has announced that the Southern Tier Region, where Chemung County is located, can move to Phase 2.

To say what is happening right now in New York is confusing would be a gross understatement.

Last month Governor Cuomo announced a series of four phases to re-open New York’s economy. The official website describing the re-opening process, called “New York Forward”, is found here.

Under the plan, New York is divided into ten regions based on geographic location. Chemung County is located within the Southern Tier Region.

Currently all regions aside from New York City have met the criteria for entering into Phase 1, under which manufacturing and construction businesses were permitted to re-open. The Southern Tier Region entered into Phase 1 on May 15th.

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