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February 13 – Dutchess County Legislature Meeting

The local LWV “Observer Corps” is made up of volunteers who attend and write up notes from the County Legislative Meetings. LWVMHR Member Jane Simkin Smith attended (virtually) the Dutchess County Legislative Meeting that took place on February 13th, 2024. This meeting was a business meeting with important discussions. Ms. Smith wrote up a summary of her observations, which are below. We look forward to her future reports; if you live in Orange or Ulster county and would like to participate in the Observer Corps, let us know!

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After a unanimous vote to approve the minutes from the last meeting, Chairman Truitt turned to the consent agenda, which included Resolutions 21-41.

The majority of the Resolutions involved appointments and/or reappointments to various County Committees and Boards. (Legislator Drago subsequently thanked the Legislature for his appointment to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Association Board of Directors.)

Other Resolutions involved amendments to the 2024 adopted county budget (for example, in relation to the purchase of various replacement vehicles by the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office), authorizing the amendment of funding under the Trade Adjustment Act, amending earlier resolutions that established standard workday for elected and appointed officials, identifying persons required under the County Code of Ethics to file annual financial disclosure statements, and the approval of applications to correct tax bills for Hyde Park and Red Hook.

Resolution 38 authorized a condemnation proceeding to acquire a temporary easement on private property in connection with a replacement bridge over Jackson Creek in Lagrange. Resolution 39 authorized the County Executive to execute an agreement with NYS Department of Transportation on behalf of the Public Works Public Transit Division. Resolution 41 adopted the Permanent Rules of the Legislature.

In other county business, legislators promoted proposed legislation or advised of an intent to propose legislation. Legislator Polasek encouraged others to sign on to proposed legislation in the State Assembly that would increase the personal tax income tax credit for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. Legislator Atkins thanked the County Executive for reinstituting leadership meetings and, having attended one such meeting, explained that he was going to reintroduce the two budget amendments that had been unanimously approved by the Legislature but vetoed by the previous County Executive: to provide a recovery coach to serve special populations aged 18-25; and to provide increased funding to the grant program of Path to Promise which provides youth services.

Legislator Lawler warned of recent cybersecurity threats and the potential to shut down critical infrastructure. He encouraged conversations with County agency officials and electric providers to understand what steps could be taken to avoid these threats.

Legislator Valdes-Smith expressed appreciation to County Executive Serino for her recent announcement regarding receipt of funding to enhance services of EMS. Chairman Truitt advised that, in March, the Commissioner of Emergency Response will be providing a report on ambulance services and response time in the County.

Legislator Atkins read a prepared statement respecting Black History Month. He explained that it is not just an annual celebration and not merely a time to reflect on the struggles of the Black community, but also to acknowledge their resilience, their achievements, and their many contributions to the fabric of American society.

Legislator Johnson circulated a letter regarding horrendous conditions at the Rip Van Winkle building, and the failures of management to address these conditions including a broken furnace.

The meeting concluded with condolences to the Honorable Gerald Hayes, Glen Brown and William Smith.