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Brown gets Columbia BOS chair again

Jan 05, 2011 6:22 am
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Germantown Supervisor Roy Brown gets reinstated as chairman of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors at the county's reorganization meeting in Hudson yesterday. Photo by Register Star."][/caption]The Columbia County Board of Supervisors held its annual reorganization meeting in Hudson yesterday afternoon with the chosen highlight being touted as the unanimous reappointment of Roy Brown, Republican from Germantown, as 2011 Board of Supervisors chairman. Francesca Olsen, reporting the story for today's Register Star, mentioned a host of appointments at the session, the basic contents of Brown's State of the County speech, but nothing about whether the county's Chief Budget Officer, embattled supervisor Art Baer of Hillsdale, was re-elected to his position or not.

Baer has been in the news recently following a letter to the Register Star from the chairmen of the county's Republican, Conservative and Independence parties demanded his ouster, noting their displeasure with his service, which Baer answered by questioning the legitimacy of such closed-door political decisions for a body meant to be ruled by electoral politics.

We'll get back to you on whether Baer prevailed or not in his reappointment, which we suspect not.

Meanwhile, Olsen reports that Brown announced that he would keep Supervisors Larry Andrews, R-Ghent, and Bart Delaney, R-Hudson5, on as his vice-chairmen for another year. Taghkanic Supervisor Elizabeth “Betty” Young will retain her title of Republican majority leader on the BOS, and Stuyvesant Supervisor Valerie Bertram will continue on as her deputy. Clermont Supervisor Raymond Staats replaced Chatham’s Jesse DeGroodt as Democratic minority leader on the BOS; Claverack Supervisor Robin Andrews will serve as Staats’ deputy minority leader.

After a standing ovation, Brown spoke of the coming year and the almost certain financial hardships that will come with it. “We must remain cautious and continue to be very mindful of our finances this coming year,” he said, noting appreciation for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to cut his salary by 5 percent. “But what else will he cut and how will those cuts affect Columbia County and our residents?” he asked.

The county will be monitoring the governor’s actions “on a daily basis,” Brown said. “We have contingency plans in place and we will be reviewing those plans with supervisors and department heads in the coming weeks. We remain optimistic that Columbia County will prevail in 2011.” Brown also warned against partisan politics, saying the BOS “must be able to work in a bipartisan fashion without the veil of partisan politics hanging over our heads,” and reminded the room that the BOS “takes ethics standards seriously and we will not allow ethical abuse to go unchecked with any elected official or agency,” that works with the BOS.

Brown’s 2010 speech mentioned economic development, tourism and county efficiencies as goals — his 2011 speech kept them as such. He mentioned some “new strategies” for the county tourism department...

Gary Flaherty was appointed again as county director of the Veteran’s Service Agency and County Controller Ronald Caponera was appointed as county corporate compliance officer. Brown said Caponera will not receive any additional salary for this.

In the next six months, Brown requested that county department heads only purchase goods and services “vital to the operation of our departments.”

“We continue to experience delays in payments from the state and reports out of Albany suggest that in the coming months, we may experience more delays and cuts in funding ... your cooperation in holding the line on spending will greatly contribute to the avoidance of layoffs and other contingency strategies,” he said.

Brown also recommended the “hiring chill” in place for Columbia County continue into the first six months of 2011.

During a brief discussion before resolutions were passed, Supervisor William Hughes asked to clarify that the rules of order and meeting dates to be adopted didn’t also include language accepting any changes to supervisors’ committees.

Brown and other supervisors have said they’d like to consolidate some of the 19 standing committees, leaving the BOS with “less than half” of the ones that currently exist. Brown said a draft of a new committee schedule would be distributed to the BOS “at the end of this week.”

County Attorney Robert Fitzsimmons told the BOS they’d be voting on any changes to committees next week at the full BOS meeting, not during the re-organizational meeting.

Also during the re-org meeting, the BOS voted unanimously to keep the Register-Star as its official newspaper.

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