28 Jan

The 2019 Winter NYSAC Conference

The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) is holding its Winter Conference from January 28-30 in Albany where more than 800 legislators, county executives and administrators, legislative clerks and attorneys and other county personnel will gather to share best practices and learn from each other.

A number of representatives from Chemung County are in attendance, including:

A link to the Agenda – including a description of many of the offerings – is found here.

I will do my best to post updates to this blog and to the Chemung County Matters Facebook page throughout the next few days for anyone who is interested in what is taking place.


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15 Jan

Appointments and salaries approved

On Monday night the Chemung County Legislature approved all of the appointments made by Legislative Chairperson Dave Manchester and County Executive Moss to various boards, committees and employment positions.

I livestreamed the Special Personnel Committee meeting as well as the Full Legislature Meeting, embedded below.

Special Personnel Committee Meeting


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14 Jan

Agendas for tonight’s meetings, etc

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.


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11 Jan

Chemung County update: Appointments, the IDA, City-County relations and the West Elmira Fire Department

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 Appointments

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.


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07 Jan

Important personnel matters addressed by the Legislature

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:


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05 Jan

Many issues to come before the Legislature Monday night

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.


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31 Dec

Looking ahead to 2019 in Chemung County

Image: Britannica

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.


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21 Dec

Chemung County Update: Legislative leadership roles, the 2019 Meeting Schedule and two interesting radio shows

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.

Leadership roles

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:


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18 Dec

Southern Tier awarded funds for economic developmenti

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


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13 Dec

Chemung County Update: Paying for the First Arena

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…)

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