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Columbia County supervisors propose making the Office of Emergency Management an independent department

Nov 23, 2021 6:00 am

Natasha Vaughn-Holdridge is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media that Columbia County officials are considering making the Office of Emergency Management an independent department. It is currently a part of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. The proposed shift has some county Democrats concerned. “This is a proposal that hasn’t been studied,” Columbia County Democratic Committee Chair Sam Hodge said. “And there’s been no analysis done. There’s been no discussion of a transition process and we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, we’re in the middle of an emergency. So the lack of forethought, I find really troubling.” Hodge alleges the change was proposed now because incumbent Republican David Bartlett's re-election bid failed this month, according to Hodge. “Their candidate lost [the sheriff's race] decisively and now, out of nowhere, they want to cut a quarter of a million dollars from the budget and take away important responsibilities from the sheriff’s control,” he said. Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chair Matt Murell said the budget for Emergency Management is $139,000. “Mr. Hodge is saying $250,000 would be ripped out of the Sheriff’s Department,” Murell said. “It’s actually $139,000, of which $65,000 is going to stay with the Sheriffs Department,” he said. Murrell said the board is talking about transferring $70,000 for the Emergency Management Office. “There’s no defunding anything as the funds will continue to be used as already designated,” Murell said. All county-level emergency coordinators who are not part of emergency management, such as the fire coordinator, EMS coordinator and 911 director are in support of the change, the chair said. “At this point, if I had a say in it as sheriff, I wouldn’t want anything removed at this point,” said Sheriff-elect Don Krapf. “I’d like to review more data on this and make a data-driven decision, and find out what the effects for the safety of this community are, what the effect on the budget is, how these assets are going to be allocated. There’s a lot of things to be reviewed, and for it to happen this quickly I don’t think would be well thought out.” Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.