The Chemung County Legislature will hold two meeting tonight (Monday, January 14, 2019).
The first, a special meeting of the Personnel Committee, begins at 6:50 pm. The only item on this Agenda whether County Executive Chris Moss’ appointees to the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (“CCIDA”) should be voted upon by the full Legislature. A link to the meeting’s Agenda is found here. (Please note you can view Agenda items and their attachments by clicking on them.)
The second meeting is of the Full Legislature. It begins at 7:00 pm. An Agenda for this meeting is found here.
It has been a very busy start for Chemung County’s new Executive and Legislature. With votes on numerous department-head positions and committees set to take place this Monday, there are many important issues facing our community. In addition, an unfortunate situation is unfolding in West Elmira involving its Fire Department, discussed in detail below.
The Agenda for Monday night’s Full Legislature meeting has not been published yet, but should appear here by the end of the day. The meeting will be held at 7:00 pm on the Hazlett Building’s 5th Floor. Members of the public are permitted to speak for up to 5 minutes on any matter at the start of the meeting. Prior notice does not need to be given to the Legislature in order to speak. I will again livestream the meeting to the Chemung County Matters Facebook page.
The resolutions addressed at last Monday’s Committee Meetings will all presumably be included on the Agenda for the Full Legislature Meeting. This includes appointments to numerous department-head positions (and their salaries) as well as many committees.
Two of the Legislature’s powers were in the spotlight tonight during the Personnel Committee’s meeting, including its ability to fix certain salaries and confirm appointments made by the County Executive.
Both powers are laid out explicitly in Chemung County’s Charter, found here.
The power to fix salaries is found in Section 203(h):
The power to confirm executive appointments is found in Section 309:
Members of the Chemung County Legislature were sworn in on January 1, 2018 following a short organizational meeting. The real work starts on Monday. If the Committee Agendas are any indication, it will be a very busy start to the year.
The Legislature usually meets three times per month. Unfortunately the Legislature’s website, found here, has not been updated to show the new schedule, so I embedded it below for anyone who is interested.
Last year on New Year’s Day I published a blog post entitled “Key Fiscal Issues in 2018”, found here. The issues – what to do with the First Arena, Sales Tax distribution, the fiscal health of Chemung County and the City of Elmira, the impact of state and local law on our economy, and the potential for significant change in local leadership – proved to be important matters in 2018, most of which will continue to demand our attention until they are resolved.
The New Year’s post this year is somewhat different. Having been entrusted by the residents of Chemung County’s 7th Legislative District to try to help address the issues listed above along with a host of others, I have shifted the focus of my 2019 New Year’s post away from a simple commentary about the issues into an action plan where possible. Is the list below complete? Not even close, but it presents a few workable, practical ways to begin dealing with some of our community’s very serious problems.
There are many changes afoot in Chemung County government as 2018 winds down. Aside from the announcement by incoming County Executive Chris Moss that several department heads have been let go as described in an article found here, the new Legislature is also making changes as it prepares to begin work soon.
The Legislature’s leadership appears to be set for the upcoming term, with votes for many of these roles slated to be taken at the organizational meeting on January 1, 2019:
Chairperson: Dave Manchester
Vice-Chairperson: John Burin
Majority Leader: Rodney Strange
Minority Leader: Christina Sonsire
The following committee positions have been recommended by (presumptive) Chairperson Manchester:
The annual New York State Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) awards were announced today in Albany. Of the $763 million in economic and community development funding allocated to 10 competing regions, the Southern Tier received $65.4 million to help nearly 100 local projects, 11 of which are in Chemung County.
The purpose of this post is to provide background about REDC and details about the local projects that have received funding.
What is REDC?
10 Councils were created in 2011 by Governor Cuomo to help develop long-term strategic plans for regional-specific economic growth. The Councils are public-private partnerships wherein elected and non-elected leaders identify ways to help grow their economies while competing for funds that are awarded by New York state each year just before Christmas.
Often criticized as promoting a Hunger Games-sytle or pay-to-play approach to economic growth, the Councils are increasingly tasked with showing a relationship between the money they receive and sustainable job growth in order to justify the huge outlay of tax dollars. Many of these criticisms were addressed in a thorough investigative article by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle published in June, 2017 and found here.
As Chemung County’s new executive administration and legislature prepare to take office on January 1, many unresolved issues are being researched and discussed. One matter near the top of the list is how to pay for debts associated with Elmira’s First Arena. From my time at the doors last year it became clear that although few people want to see First Arena fail, figuring out a way to pay for it absent an outright sale to a private buyer is of great public concern because it involves the use of tax dollars.
The best place to start for a full overview of the history of First Arena from its construction through the spring of 2017 is found here in a thorough investigative article (more…)
Last night the Chemung County Legislature passed a resolution by a vote of 10-5 to increase legislative salaries by 3%. Legislators Rick Madl, Marty Chalk, Bill Fairchild, Peggy Woodard and Paul Collins all voted against it.
During the meeting’s public comment period Tony Pucci, a retired English teacher who ran for a seat on the legislature in last November’s election, and I each spoke against the pay raises, arguing they are inappropriate at a time when our community is facing significant fiscal stress coupled with a declining population, and the combination of high salaries and benefits are inconsistent with other similarly situated counties in upstate (more…)
Note: Going forward I will provide updates about what is happening in Chemung County government every Thursday and will add other posts throughout the week as pressing issues arise. I am in the process of updating the Chemung County Matters website to include links to all Agendas, Minutes and other noteworthy items from the Chemung County Legislature as well as the Elmira and Big Flats Town Boards, the two municipalities located within the 7th Legislative District.
Things are certainly abuzz within Chemung County government as Chris Moss, the newly elected County Executive, along with seven newly elected legislators prepare to take office in less than one month. To this point Moss and his transition team (a list of members is found here) has largely operated independently from the new legislature, something that bodes well for the desire of many people for greater separation between the two branches. The overall tenor among the new and returning elected officials seems (more…)