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Tuesday headlines

Jul 19, 2011 12:43 am
Deal avoids state layoffs
Brian Nearing in the Albany Times-Union reports Gov. Andrew Cuomo reached a tentative contract agreement with the 54,000-member Public Employees Federation late Friday. The agreement is a five-year contract similar to the one Cuomo completed last month with the Civil Service Employees Administration. Both deals need approval from the unions' executive boards and membership, and include three years without raises, with wages rising by two percent in the contract's fourth and fifth years.
"This agreement reflects the financial reality of the times. I am pleased that we could avoid these layoffs, protect the workforce and the taxpayer," Cuomo said. Read the Times-Union for the complete story.

New Leb hires help to fight dump costs
Parry Teasdale in The Columbia Paper reports that New Lebanon has retained the law firm of Young Sommer LLC to represent the town's claim that the county, not New Lebanon, should pay for the costs of properly closing of a landfill in a former gravel pit on private property owned by Reginald L. Sherman, Jr. The town claims it has never owned the site, and that the county operated it and other landfills in the 1970s. "In the 1981 towns and villages signed an agreement with the county, and county government took over solid waste management in Columbia County. The town believes that county also agreed to reimburse New Lebanon for the costs of operating the landfill until it was closed and agreed to close the site," Teasdale writes. The county began proper closing of the landfill in the late 1980s, Teasdale reports, but no one explains why it was never completed. Now, the bill could be as high as $1.5 million to properly protect the surrounding environment. County Attorney Rob Fitzsimmons did not know that the town had hired a law firm about the issue, but he said there have been ongoing discussions between the parties, and New Lebanon has signed consent orders with the state. Doug Clark, a member of the New Lebanon Town Board and an engineer, says they have been attempting to get the Board of Supervisors to weigh in on the matter. “We just want a straight up or down vote,” said Mr. Clark. “We can't even get that.” Read the full story in The Columbia Paper.

Town looks to bring Conservation Advisory Council back to life
Lisa D. Connell in The Chatham Courier reports that Chatham resident Deirdre Henderson is spearheading efforts to re-establish a town Conservation Advisory Council to help preserve local ecosystems, natural habitats, and open spacein the town. Henderson is Chatham’s representative to the county’s Environmental Management Council, and earlier this month she spoke to the Town Board about reviving the council. Henderson explained that preparing an inventory of natural resources, documenting open space, and conducting site visits to areas under development consideration are all are within the scope of a CAC. The town had formed a council in 1991, but never implemented any conserving. Field biologist Gretchen Stevens noted the program costs little and, “it’s really just to provide information to applicants, town agencies and the general public,” said Stevens. Read the full story in The Chatham Courier.