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Supervisors deal with services, sales tax


HUDSON–The Columbia County Board of Supervisors passed resolutions relating to sales taxes, bus service and housing at the full board meeting Wednesday, February 8.

Among the resolutions was the annual request that the state legislature to allow Columbia County to continue its 4% sales tax, instead of the default 3% sales tax the state permits counties to charge. The current 4% tax authorization expires November 30, 2017 and the county’s request would extend it for two years, through November 30, 2019. Routinely, the county has requested and the state has approved the extra 1%, which is also the rate in most counties around the state.

The county tax is in addition to the state’s 4% sales tax, making the full sales tax in Columbia County 8%. Reasons the resolution gives for extending the extra sales tax include “mandated costs for Medicaid, pension, and state mandates,” which remain a burden, despite “cost saving measures” taken, and are “likely to increase in the foreseeable future.” The 2017 county budget submitted to the legislature includes the anticipated revenues from the extra 1% tax.

Another resolution dealt with county bus service. Last March the board renewed its contract with Johnston & Pulcher, LLC, to run county buses until April 12, 2018. Johnston & Pulcher, a Philmont company, has run the buses for several years, receiving praise from some riders and criticism from others. Last year company spokespeople told county meetings that ridership had increased and people wanted more service. But according to the resolution, Johnston & Pulcher will be dissolved on March 1, 2017.

A successor company, Johnston Transportation, LLC, is “ready, willing, and able to continue,” and the resolution reassigns the contract to the new entity “for the balance of the contract term, until April 12, 2018.”

Contacted after the meeting, a Johnston & Pulcher spokeswoman said by phone that the company could not provide details until she consulted with their lawyer.

Columbia County public transportation bus routes currently consist of weekday buses from Hudson to Albany (some via Kinderhook and Valatie), shopper loops between Hudson and Fairview Avenue shopping centers, and once-a-week trips routes between Hudson and: Philmont, Mellenville and Claverack (Mondays); Germantown, Stottville and Stuyvesant (Tuesdays); Ancramdale (Wednesdays); and Livingston (Thursdays).

Also approved last week was a resolution authorizing the board to agree to pay Capital Advocates up to $24,500 to help plan “for the acquisition of transitional and permanent low income housing.” Capital Advocates, according to its website, helps companies and other entities obtain access to beneficial government programs.”

The resolution states, “Columbia County, like many counties throughout the country, faces many challenges with housing the homeless and affordable housing in general.” The county Department of Social Services (DSS) reported 95 homeless individuals in its system in December 2016 and 94 in November 2016. Capital Advocates presented its credentials to the Board of Supervisors Health and Human Services Committee meeting on January 17.

At that meeting last month Supervisor Reverend Edward Cross (D-Hudson 2) noted that homelessness was also a big problem 30 years ago and asked whether it would still be a big problem 30 years from now.

The next full Board meeting will take place Wednesday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. at 401 State Street in Hudson.

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