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Weekend in review

Mar 30, 2015 6:49 am
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Mar. 27 through Mon., Mar. 30

Casey Seiler is reporting at Capitol Confidential Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced a three-way budget deal just after 9:30 p.m., Sun., Mar. 29. Heastie said the question of who would handle the reform of the teacher evaluation system would be handled by the state Education Department. Teacher tenure will now be available after four years of service, up from the current three years, and will be tied to evaluations. Cuomo administration officials said those evaluations will be tied to both state testing and observations. Details of the ethics package in the fiscal plan were not yet fully available, but Cuomo insisted it would include the five categories of fixes he demanded. The final plan will include the establishment of a pay commission for lawmakers as well as top agency officials, Heastie said. According to a statement released by the three leaders the final budget plan would include $1.5 billion for Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative competition and $500 million to make New York the first in the nation to have statewide broadband. Heastie also listed the policy items that will not be dealt with in the budget including the DREAM Act, a boost in the minimum wage, new policies on campus sexual assault and an effort to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Full details and language are to be released Mon., Mar. 30.

Diane Valden reported in the Columbia Paper Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett was recently elected to the executive committee of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association. In that capacity, Bartlett will work with sheriffs across the state to enhance public safety statewide through professional training and accreditation programs, public safety programs and advocacy. The state Sheriffs’ Association, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation formed in 1934, and is comprised of all elected and appointed sheriffs in the state.

Jim Planck reported in The Daily Mail the Catskill Central School District presented its proposed $40 million budget for the 2015-16 school year Wed., Mar. 25. The plan features a decrease in overall spending and state aid, and increases in the tax levy and the use of reserve funds, with minimal program and staffing changes. The tax levy would increase 1.94 percent, within the state mandated cap. The spending plan will allow for the addition of an instrumental music class for the fourth and fifth grades, along with an introductory music class for third graders. It also provides for the addition of one special education teacher and two teaching assistants at Catskill High School. A budget workshop is scheduled for April 15. The public hearing on the budget will be held May 6. The statewide budget vote and school board elections will be held May 19.

Siobhan [She-von] Barton reported in the Register Star Bruce Bohnsack, chairman of the Columbia County Industrial Development Agency and the Capital Resource Commission has resigned, effective Aug. 31. He served as the chair for the two county agencies for 30 years. Bohnsack submitted a letter of resignation to IDA and CRC Executive Director Kenneth Flood last week. He said the decision was the result of his desire for additional leisure time. Bohnsack is the third generation president and general manager of Gtel, which provides telephone, IPTV and broadband service to southern Columbia County. He is also president of Hilltop Communications, Inc., Valstar Inc. and Germantown Cellular Inc. Flood said, “He was a fantastic leader of the IDA in tackling both easy and difficult tasks. He put in a tremendous amount of effort on both boards."