Commissioners accused of ‘obfuscation’

Changes continue at the county commissioners’ meeting with the new administration continuing to tweak the format.

At the Wednesday, Feb. 26 meeting, the public comment period on both agenda and non-agenda items, was moved to the start of the meeting to the dismay of some audience members in attendance.

Bruce Paskoff said the change amount to “obfuscation” on the part of the commissioners and chastised them the move he said decreased transparency in their actions.

Previously, the commissioners had accepted questions and/or comments on each of the agenda items.

Commissioner Elizabeth Arnold said the meeting agenda is posted on the county website prior to the meeting, and also said it is available in its printed form at 8:30 a.m. on meeting days in the courthouse.

The commissioners fielded several questions regarding agenda items in the public comment period, including one on the usage of Act 13 funds, and how the county plans to adjust the budget should that funding stream run out.

Arnold said that in the event Act 13 funding were to cease, the county would raise taxes if necessary.

Since receiving Act 13 funds, the county has utilized those funds for building and renovation projects, as well as vehicles and equipment that align with Act 13 requirements, and has not instituted expenses – such as the creation of new programs or departments – that would require funding if the county no longer received Act 13 revenue.

The commissioners approved the purchase of a 2020 Utility Police Interceptor ($42,065.68) and a 2020 Police Responder Ford F-150 ($46,501), both for the sheriff’s department, with Act 13 funds.

Act 13 revenue was also approved to be used to pay for a change order in the amount of $7,157 for displays and monitors in the courtroom.

The county entered into a contract with MCM Consulting Group for technology assessment and design, as well as professional services, for the new public safety building at a maximum cost of $177,660.50, paid partially from PEMA 911 funding.

The commissioners also entered into a service agreement with ElectionIQ for maintenance, testing and support of election equipment at a total annual cost of $35,500.

The recycling center paving project bid was awarded to Broome Bituminous of Vestal, NY, for $182,650, to be paid utilizing grant funds.

March was proclaimed as Colon Cancer Awareness Month, as well as Census Participation Month.

Commissioner Alan Hall said census participation is necessary in order for the county to receive state and federal funding that it should. As an example, he said that if 750 people did not fill out the census, the county could lose out on about $15 million worth of funding. He also noted the census form is not invasive, with limited questions.

Hall also reported that the commissioners have been meeting with the union and that both sides are “working hard together to address issues.”

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