By JEANETTE WOLFBERG
HUDSON—The Columbia County Board of Supervisors accepted opioid settlement funds, adopted a Limited English Proficiency Plan, and—by divided vote—urged Governor Hochul to veto a law requiring local elections take place in even years. The supervisors addressed these issues and more at their monthly meeting July 12. In all, the board adopted 36 resolutions.
The Limited English Proficiency plan calls for providing interpreters for people who do not understand English via telephone or, when available, in person. It calls for printing “documents, meeting notices, flyers, and agendas” in “an alternate language” when their target audience includes people known to have limited English or upon request. The plan suggests that about 2.8% of Columbia County residents 5 years old or over have limited English skills.
On another matter the supervisors voted 13-10 in favor of a statement urging Governor Hochul to veto a law requiring that elections for many county and town officials take place only in even numbered years. Reasons supervisors gave for supporting the statement include that when running local elections at the same time as federal and state elections, local issues will be lost, junk mail will be overwhelming, and that the new law will violate home rule.
Reasons supervisors gave for opposing the statement include the Board of Elections needs a break between elections to catch up and that there is a higher voter turnout on election year. “We are accountable to the voters, and the more of them we hear from, the better off we are,” said Supervisor Jeanne Mettler (D-Copake) later.
Supervisor Claire Cousin (D-Hudson, 1st Ward) said on July 14 that she sees both sides of the issue. On the one hand, the county Board of Elections is swamped and would benefit from greater spacing between elections. (Although some local elections, such as for county judge, can stay in odd years for now.) On the other hand it is easier for people to “see the importance of local issues if not swamped by national issues…. There needs to be a way of highlighting local issues. Besides, a two-year break between elections increases the possibility of someone ‘just not paying attention.’”
Also at the meeting, the board:
• Appointed Frederick Werwaiss of Chatham and Stan Yarian of Livingston to serve for up to 2 years on the county’s Environmental Management Council
• Authorized renewal of the county’s contract with five school districts to get a School Resource Office assigned by the Sheriff’s Office for the coming school year, this time specifically September 1, 2023, to June 24, 2024. The school districts are Chatham, Germantown, Ichabod Crane, New Lebanon, and Taconic Hills. Each district pays the county $40, 000 each per year for the service
• Approved a new collective bargaining agreement between the trustees of Columbia Greene Community College and a local of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The trustees approved the agreement June 19. However, to be valid, all collective bargaining agreements for that college require approval by both counties
• Heard a presentation on the Fisk study on improving Emergency Medical Service.
• Amounts of the opioid settlement funds are in a separate article.
County receives opium settlement funds
HUDSON—Columbia County can expect to receive at least $2.2 million in Opioid Settlement Funds by 2038 in irregular amounts each year.
That breakdown of the funds was made by county Director of Community Services Dan Almasi and shared with the county Health and Human Services Committee last year. (See November 3, 2022 issue.) Recently, as part of this, the Office of Addiction Services and Support (OASAS) awarded the County Department of Human Services (DHS) $283,739. On July 12, 2023 the County Board of Supervisors authorized the DHS to accept this award and spend it as follows:
• $100,000 for a Wellness Hub Coordinator
• $80,000 for the Columbia-Greene Addiction Coalition
• $40,000 for ReEntry Columbia to purchase a vehicle
• $30,000 in DHS Flex Funds.—Jeanette Wolfberg