11 Sep

Major costs looming to improve the Chemung County Sewer Districts

The Chemung County Legislature has been advised that major infrastructure upgrades – totaling anywhere from $80 to $100 million dollars – are necessary to provide basic maintenance to our Sewer Districts’ facilities and bring them into compliance with pollution reduction targets set by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that will take effect in 2025.

The purpose of this post is to present background information and begin a public discussion on what may turn out to be one of the most significant undertakings the Legislature and County Executive will face this term. I will do my best to publish updated information as it becomes available.

Chemung County Sewer Districts

According to the county website, found here, approximately 80% of the 35,000 households and over 90% of all businesses in Chemung County are served by the Chemung County Sewer Districts. Jointly, they process approximately 18 million gallons of wastewater per day in order to meet current state and federal discharge requirements.


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07 Aug

More from the City-County Committee, including its termination by County Executive Moss

On August 6th the City-County Committee presented its report and recommendations to a large crowd at Mandeville Hall.

Fresh off the excitement from last night’s event, I wrote a Facebook post just after waking up this morning:

However, while writing this blog post I learned by letter that County Executive Moss has abruptly terminated the Committee. I will address this issue at the end of the post so that it does not interfere with the important, substantive work the Committee has done over the past six months.


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30 Jul

City-County Committee completes report, announces presentation date

On February 11, 2019, the Chemung County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution allowing Chemung County Executive Christopher Moss to form a temporary committee to identify ways the county and city can work together to assist the city with studying possible cost-saving measures that could improve the city’s financial health and benefit the community.

The committee is comprised of eight individuals: Chemung County Legislature Vice Chairperson John Burin; Elmira Mayor Daniel Mandell; Chemung County Legislators Martin Chalk, Christina Sonsire, Scott Drake and William McCarthy; Elmira City Councilperson Joseph Duffy; and former City of Elmira Chamberlain David Vandermark.  

The committee has spent the past five months examining and analyzing the city’s current fiscal situation and has identified several potential cost-saving measures and ideas. This letter and the accompanying report set forth our findings.


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23 Jul

Update: Legislative Salaries, Prevailing Wage and the City-County Committee

Legislative Salaries

The Chemung County Legislature’s ad hoc Compensation & Benefits Committee held its initial meeting last night. The Committee is comprised of five legislators including John Pastrick, Mike Smith, Rodney Strange, Bill McCarthy and myself. Together we are charged with evaluating the salary and benefit package offered to legislators and recommending what changes, if any, should be made.

Resolution 18-640 was passed last December designating the salary and benefits offered to Chemung County Legislators this year.


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18 Jul

Oral argument in Moss v. Legislature to be heard on July 19th

Judge Eugene Faughnan of Binghamton will hear oral arguments tomorrow in the two lawsuits filed by County Executive Chris Moss and County Attorney Hyder Hussain against the Chemung County Legislature, its lawyer Bryan Maggs and former legislative clerk Linda Palmer.

Arguments will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Hazlett Building’s Third Floor courtroom. Live-streaming is not permitted, but the proceeding is open to the public.


Attorney William Kinnery, hired by the Legislature and Palmer, and Attorney Bryan Maggs, representing himself, filed a motion last week to consolidate the two lawsuits. I expect Judge Faughnan will grant it as the issues involve the same parties and seem to be inextricably intertwined.

At the hearing, Robert Rosborough, the attorney hired by Moss and Hussain to bring the lawsuits, will be permitted to argue first as he represents the Petitioners, i.e. the people who brought the actions. There are no hard rules about how long his argument can last, but judges can – and often do – tell lawyers to stop arguing when they feel their questions have been adequately answered.


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25 Jun

Chemung County update on…a bunch of things

Image: Shutterstock

I have had a crazy few weeks as my daughters’ school and spring sports ended while a number of my cases at the Ziff Law firm started really cranking. As a result I have not been able to put together a update-style post in quite a while.

The list below demonstrates that there is a lot going on in local government right now. As always, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these and any other matters as greater public involvement with government results in better government overall.

Shared Services

Last Thursday Chemung County Executive Moss held a meeting for all municipal mayors and supervisors where he laid out a new plan for shared services in Chemung County. Unfortunately the Legislature was not informed of the meeting, and to date has not received any information from the Executive’s office about what the plan entails.


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13 Jun

First Arena: an update

Image: Trip Advisor

In addition to serving as a Legislator for Chemung County’s 7th District, I am the secretary of the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency. In order to clarify and explain the state of affairs at Elmira’s First Arena, we offered this statement today.

A copy of the lease referenced in the statement and the specific requests for reimbursement are embedded at the end of our statement.


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28 May

Legislature to address many important issues on May 28th

May 28, 2019 Personnel Committee Agenda

The Chemung County Legislature’s Standing Committees will meet tonight (May 28th) starting at 7:00 pm on the Hazlett Building’s fifth floor. The meetings are open to the public and will be live-streamed to the Chemung County Matters Facebook page, found here.

Agendas for the meetings can be found here.


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22 May

Overview of how the New York state budget affects us

New York’s State’s Association of Counties issues its annual report detailing how the 2019-2020 budget impacts Chemung County. A copy of the report is embedded below:


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21 May

Five cent fee for paper bags makes sense

Last month New York State enacted a law that prevents retailers from using most types of single-use plastic bags beginning on March 1, 2020. The purpose of the law, which permits plastic bags to still be used for things like uncooked meat, take-out food and garments, is to encourage consumers to rely on reusable bags instead.

However, it is up to counties and villages to decide whether they want to impose a small fee on paper bags in an attempt to cut down on their use as well.

Under this “opt-in” provision, counties and cities can pass local laws to charge 5 cents for single use paper bags sold in within their municipalities. According to a white paper published recently by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), found here and embedded below, the ban works as follows:


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