While some didn’t agree with the reason behind the study, the Essex County Board of Supervisors enacted the next phase in the potential sale of the Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown.
In their Feb. 6 regular board meeting, the supervisors passed a pair of resolutions — one to solicit proposals for a Phase One Environmental Evaluation on the nursing home and one to seek quotes for the work of a title search.
Moriah’s Thomas “Tom” Scozzafava said that while he was still against the sale of the home, he felt an environmental evaluation of the site was needed.
“I support this because in the future, this is something that we can use down the road when looking at what needs to be done,” said Scozzafava.
Willsboro’s Ed Hatch questioned County Manager Daniel Palmer on if the evaluation should be done, and funded, by an potential buyer.
“If we do this and then a flag comes up and we have no one that buys, then we have another problem coming up,” Hatch said.
County Attorney Dan Manning said that the study is done for that purpose, to identify the potential for concerns, and that the evaluation would run between $2,500 and $4,000.
“It is prudent that it is done in advance because we do not have a finance package in place,” North Elba’s Robert “Roby” Politi said.
Radio system moves forward
The Essex County Board of Supervisors voted to purchase the Essex County share of the new microwave system for the emergency services communications project at a total of $1,075,715 and equipment from state contract for the public safety radio system in the amount of $24,851.35 during its Feb. 6 meeting.
County Manager Daniel Palmer explained that the financing for the project was a three-entity effort between the county, New York State Police and New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG).
“This represents our share of the three-way deal between us, the State Police and NYSEG,” Palmer said. “This money will be used to purchase our share of the equipment and have it ready for the project build.”
Palmer said that once ready, it will take about two building seasons for the system to be completed based on the number of sites and work needed to be done.
“This is a 19-site project, so it is pretty big,” Palmer said.
Palmer said that so far, the county has received a pair of grants that will help pay for the project, which supervisors capped at $10 million. The first was for about $580,000 and the second was recently awarded for $2 million.
“The state is also releasing another $45 million grant for public radio stations and we will again be applying for that to see if we can get more funding in grants,” Palmer said.
Palmer reported that NYSP has invested around $2 million into the system, while NYSEG has added about $600,000.
Renewal for sales tax increase
The Essex County Board of Supervisors will again call upon the state legislature to up their sales tax by one-quarter of a percent.
During the Feb. 6 regular board meeting, supervisors passed a pair of resolutions that cleared the way for state action on the county’s request to up the sales tax percentage from 3.75 percent to a full 4 percent, making it the same percentage as the states take.
“Ultimately, we are only asking that we be able to do what our neighboring counties had done,” Board Chairman and Jay Supervisor Randall “Randy” Douglas said.
County attorney Dan Manning said that the resolutions would be passed on to state assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, who would then introduce them at the state level.
“This will move the county sales tax up to 4 percent,” Manning said. “With these resolutions, we can now send in the paperwork to Sayward that tells her we want this adopted and then it will go through the legislature.”
In voting on the two resolutions, Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell was the lone negative vote on the issue.
Otis SEQRA review
County attorney Dan Manning said that the county was set with a State Environmental Quality Review Act assessment of the Otis Bridge project.
Manning presented the findings of the review to the members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors Feb. 6, saying that it covered all areas of environmental impact.
“We have taken a look at every impact that there could be with the river,” Manning said.
The project would replace the Otis Bridge with minimal need for construction equipment to enter into the river. Along with a new bridge, Otis Lane will be redirected with the old road being abandoned.
The board voted to accept the findings of the SEQRA study.
Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret “Maggie” Bartley, who lives on Otis Lane, abstained from voting on the matter.
Willsboro Mountain road issues
Willsboro Supervisor Edward Hatch said that he would just like the work completed that was promised in 2009.
Hatch moved a resolution at the Feb. 6 monthly board meeting of the Essex County Supervisors, imploring the state Department of Transportation to complete work that was part of a 2009 construction plan for the Willsboro Mountain portion of NYS Route 22.
“I just want to have a completion to the 2009 planned repairs to the road,” Hatch said. “It is a section of road that is vital to the towns of Willsboro and Chesterfield, it is a bike path and part of the Lakes to Locks Passage, and it is a patched-up mess.”
Board chair Randall “Randy” Douglas of Jay agreed with Hatch.
“It is a mess, and we have met with DOT officials and every time that we do, that is a top concern each time we go down there.”
Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret “Maggie” Bartley said that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had spoken about funding for 20 miles of roadwork during his Feb. 3 speech in Plattsburgh.
“The money may be in the budget, but the question will be if they keep it in there,” Hatch said.
In other news
The Essex County Board of Supervisors voted on a number of resolutions during its Feb. 6 regular monthly meeting, including:
• A pair of increases to the cost of services provided through the Public Health Department, including upping the amount of vaccinations offered from $10 per vaccination to $17, raising the cost of Certified Home Health Agency skilled nursing visits from $190 to $205 per visit and Home Health Aide visits from $50 to $55 per visit.
• Increasing the hours of the Finance Deputy in the County Treasurer’s office from 35 to 40 hours per week.
Leaders said that the increase in hours was needed to compensate for the loss of employees in the department.
“Increasing these hours is actually going to be saving us money because we have reduced cost with the reduction of staff,’ Westport’s Daniel Connell said.
“We have reduced staff and this change is to allow for the added work to be done,” County Manager Daniel Palmer said.
Elizabethtown’s Margaret “Maggie” Bartley said that people had asked her about the change.
“I had someone asks me how we could replace a full-time position with just five hours,” Bartley said.
“I hear that concern as well,” County Chairman Randall “Randy” Douglas of Jay said. “But the key is that everyone is now being asked to do more with less.”