Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just Say "NO" to Telemarketers (photo courtesy of knol.google.com)

DO NOT CALL*DO NOT CALL*DO NOT CALL-Your cell phone number will be fair game for telemarketers. To get on the Do Not Call Registry and avoid annoying telemarketers-call 888-382-1222...make sure to call from the phone you wish to register (you can register your house phone and cell phone)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On October 14, 2004 the Ulster County Legislature named the Kerhonkson Bridge after former judge, county legislator, fire company chaplain, veteran, Lion's club member and all around "nice guy" Herb Poppel. It took five years, $4,000,000.00 in stimulus money and hard work by a group of dedicated public officials including Legislators Mary Sheeley, TJ Briggs, Joe Stoeckler and Susan Cummings and County Executive Mike Hein to put a plan into action.

Ulster begins first stimulus project

By William J. Kemble

KERHONKSON – Local officials on Monday welcomed the start of work to replace the Herbert Poppel Bridge over the Rondout Creek, a $4.7 million project that is the first in Ulster County to be financed by federal economic stimulus money.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Do you remember Saturday Night Lives’ Linda Richman who would say “talk amongst yourselves”? That is what was going on for the past few days at the New York State Association of Counties Fall Seminar. County officials expressed outrage over being “nickled, dimed and dollared" as a result of cost shifting efforts by our State leaders. To put it simply, our leaders in Albany are trying to solve their budget gap at our expense. It seems that all of the State’s bad decisions are being forced on local government.
The call to action was to stop talking amongst ourselves and make the public aware of Albany’s inadequacies.
The Dutchess County Executive echoes many of the sentiments held by the Ulster and Orange County Executives. It’s time for our leaders in Albany to make the tough decisions and take their hands out of the pockets of local government and the local tax payer. It’s time to STOP SPENDING….STOP REDUNDANCIES…STOP COST SHIFTING.

Copyright © 2009 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.

Cost shifting concerns county officials
POUGHKEEPSIE – More than 500 county officials from across New York State including county executives, chairs of county legislative boards and county administrators gathered for the 2009 New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) Fall Seminar in Saratoga, New York. The dominant issue facing county leaders is how to deal with potential cost shifts from New York State as the state faces its perennial budget gaps and how to avoid having those state costs transferred to county property taxpayers.
“Our senators and assembly members need to make some of the tough decisions that county officials are making in order to close the budget gaps,” said Dutchess County Executive William Steinhaus. “For years, state officials have ‘fixed’ their budget problems by shifting costs to counties and county property taxpayers, and mandating counties to deliver state services. Our local property taxpayers can no longer afford ‘business as usual’.”
Dutchess County, along with counties across the state, is facing fiscal pressure from declining revenues, shrinking tax base, increased demand for county services, as well as lagging reimbursements from the State for state mandated services delivered at the county level. These fiscal pressures make it extremely challenging to manage the County’s current 2009 budget and prepare a 2010 budget.
New York State Budget Director Robert Megna addressed the joint breakfast meeting this morning to discuss the dire straights of the state budget, noting New York State’s operating budget is facing a $2 billion deficit by December. According to Megna, the state is facing “unprecedented” financial challenges. Megna told Steinhaus and other county leaders that state revenue declines are even worse than the declines seen eight years ago, immediately following 9/11. County officials asked for flexibility and relief from onerous state mandates if state funding is reduced for mandated programs.
Steinhaus commended Megna’s statement that Governor Paterson wants to avoid tax increases and close the state’s gap through spending cuts. “Governments at every level are facing extraordinary fiscal challenges but must recognize that property taxpayers’ wallets are empty. State spending cuts and mandate relief are the only answers,” concluded Steinhaus.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Ulster Legislature Enacts Whistleblower Protections

KINGSTON, NY (September 9, 2009)… A grateful Comptroller Auerbach handed out symbolic whistles to Ulster legislators at Wednesday’s meeting of the County Legislature. Legislators had just voted in favor of a policy that protects employees and agents of the County from retaliation for ‘blowing the whistle’ on fraud and abuse in County government.

“The Legislature’s action tonight empowers a great many people to challenge improper or unlawful conduct in County government,” said Comptroller Elliott Auerbach, “tonight ‘we blow the whistle’ in recognition of this important policy.”

“It was great to see Legislators rally around this important protection,” said Auerbach, “they made a Herculean effort across several committees and two caucuses to effect this policy.”

Auerbach first identified the need for County whistleblower protections in his March 25, 2009 “Internal Control Baseline Report” which assessed the effectiveness of internal controls within County departments. The report recommended whistleblower protection to protect individuals from retaliation if they report misconduct.

“We have seen a number of instances this year where if people felt assured they would not suffer retaliation for speaking up,” explained Auerbach, “problems may have been resolved or mitigated without the time, expense and disruptions caused by lawsuits. The Legislature’s leadership tonight contributes to improving internal control structure of Ulster County Government.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

County officials condemn cost-shifting

Copyright © 2009 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc

ALBANY - As state leaders and budget officials prepare to address a $2.1 billion hole in the State Budget, a bipartisan group of county officials, this morning, presented a long list of how the state’s fiscal woes are impacting their county governments. They also called on the State’s fiscal decision makers to cut state spending in their deficit reduction plan (DRP), rather than shift costs to county property taxpayers.

“New York State’s current and out-year imbalance between spending and revenues, combined with the looming disappearance of federal stimulus dollars, require immediate and structural spending controls,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “At the county level, we have seen three consecutive quarters of decline in our sales tax receipts, increased unemployment, and lagging reimbursement from the state, all of which are resulting in mid-year budget deficits in many counties—and leaders in those counties are making painful mid-year adjustments to close those gaps.”

Governor David Paterson has said he will call the State Legislature back into session in September to enact a mid-year deficit reduction plan that will help to close the projected State Budget gap. County leaders today said they want to make sure they aren’t called upon to close that gap at the State level because many of them are facing mid-year deficits themselves.

Republican Orange County Executive Edward Diana, said all Democrat Paterson has to do is look at what the counties are doing.

“We’ve reduced our work forces. We did furloughs. We laid people off. We’ve not hired any new people. We’ve consolidated our department. We lessend the amount of services that we provide, because we are a service business. Don’t ever forget what we do; we provide services, and 75 to 80 percent of it are state services that are provided by the county government.”

Some of the fiscal pressures currently facing counties include:

  • Lower than expected local sales tax receipts – for the third quarter in a row – a full 9% below last year’s receipts by the end of second quarter;
  • Lagging reimbursement from the state for state programs delivered at the county level;
  • Higher local unemployment and increased demand for county services;
  • Increased employee costs – in the form of pension contributions and health care costs.

“We support Governor Paterson’s efforts to cut spending at the state level. He understands the plight of our property taxpayers, who can’t afford to pay more, especially in these difficult economic times,” said Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala, a Democrat, and president of the New York State County Executives Association. “Each and every one of our counties is facing some difficult decisions. We are having to prioritize our programs, cut here and there and address mid-year budget challenges at the same time we are creating our 2010 budgets. We have no room for reductions or cost shifts from state government in Albany.”

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, a Republican, said all of this is driving people from the state.

“So in addition to burdening us with mandated costs not covered by state revenues, they are also adding tax upon tax", Vanderhoef said. "Rockland County, the Hudson Valey, Chemung, Erie, it doesn’t matter where you go, people will leave, and if they further ask us to pick up the cost of these programs, people will definitely be moving to South Carolina.”