HUDSON–The 30-cent monthly surcharge cell phones and other wireless devices that’s intended to help fund County 911 services spawned heated debate at a public hearing chaired by Supervisor Roy Brown (R-Germantown) ahead of the regular board meeting early this month.
Characterized as a tax by some, the genesis of the fee stems from the loss of revenue that has resulted from the decline in the use of land line phones.
Supervisor William Hughes (D-Hudson, 4th Ward) asked at the May 8 hearing that the cost come out of the general budget instead, thereby spreading it among all residents.
Gallatin Supervisor Thomas Garrick (R) countered, asking, “Why shove everything on the landowner?”
Supervisor Richard Scalera (D-Hudson, 5th Ward) suggested an increase in the sales tax instead, saying the proposed surcharge law is unfair.
Claverack Supervisor Robin Andrews (D) said that only five counties in the state do not have a cell phone use surcharge.
Hillsdale Supervisor Arthur Baer (R), addressing the sales tax suggestion, said, “The sales tax is a fixed number. If we redirect funds to help subsidize 911, we will have a hole in the budget, and be taking away from another program.”
At the regular meeting that followed the hearing, the board:
•Heard Supervisor Brown read a proclamation designating May 15 as Columbia County Police Officers Memorial Day, coinciding with National Police Week, May 12-18.
•Heard Robert Lopez, director of the county 911 service, present Certificates of Excellence to Holly Gambacorta and Richard Lindmark in recognition of their outstanding service in recent life-threatening situations where their efforts saved lives
•Heard Taghkanic Supervisor Elizabeth (Betty) Young (R) read a proclamation setting May as Columbia County Older American Citizens Month in recognition of the 16,000 county residents over 60 years old and in appreciation of the contribution they make in diversity, strength and unity of the community
•Heard the week of June 2-to-8 as Garden Club Week of Columbia County
•Heard Commissioner of Public Works David Robinson’s a presentation on plans to upgrade Pine Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Philmont.
The Board of Supervisors held a special session May 22 and voted to authorize spending $1.2 million for an architectural firm to submit a bid, design and build plan for a new and updated facility that will cost, according to estimates, $32 million.