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Greene County owed $1 million from state, feds, chairman Speenburgh says

Dec 21, 2010 9:17 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Wayne Speenburgh (R-Coxsackie) is saying the state owes Greene County $1 million in owed Social Service payments and the county will sue if it doesn't get them soon. Photo from Greene County Legislature."][/caption]Ariel Zangla-Girard reports in The Daily Freeman that Greene County is still awaiting more than $1 million in social services reimbursements from the state, but hopes to resolve the issue without a lawsuit, the Daily Freeman quotes Legislature chairman Wayne Speenburgh saying in a story this morning. “They’re holding back our money,” Speenburgh is quoted saying of the state, adding that it is unclear how much money the county is owed in social services reimbursements, but a lot of it is federal money that was supposed to be passed through the state.

The chairman added that the county will attempt to resubmit its claims under the signature of its current treasurer, Peter Markou, to obtain the payments. He said the county will also work with the new administration in 2011 to try to resolve the issue to avoid having to file a lawsuit against the state. If the payments are still not made, however, the county could file a lawsuit, Speenburgh said. The unpaid claims are tied to a disagreement between the county and the governor’s office over who has the power to appoint the county’s treasurer. In July, the county Legislature, which has a Republican majority, appointed Thomas Tracey as acting treasurer to succeed Willis Vermilyea, who had retired. The appointment was challenged by some Democrats, who questioned whether the county had the authority to make the appointment, prompting Gov. David Paterson, a Democrat, to appoint Alan Pavese as acting treasurer instead. At the time, Pavese was the Democratic candidate for county treasurer. He was later defeated by Markou, a Republican, in November’s election.

Following the governor’s appointment, county leaders said they would not seat Pavese, resulting in a legal disagreement. The situation was later compounded when the county in October issued a press release questioning the state for what they said was the withholding of funding for the local Department of Social Services. The state, in response, said it could not legally pay claims certified by an illegally appointed treasurer, which the governor’s office said Tracey was.

The county and state later both indicated they would appoint the winner of November’s election as acting treasurer until that person’s four-year term began in January. On Nov. 17, the county Legislature made Markou’s appointment effective Dec. 1.

Speenburgh said the state is holding back money owed to the county since the beginning of the year. He added that the governor’s chief counsel has been non-responsive to the county.

The governor’s office could not be reached for comment.

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