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Legislature rejects shared jail study on narrow vote

Jun 22, 2018 8:00 am
Daniel Zuckerman is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media a resolution to authorize a study to explore the possibility of a shared jail to serve Columbia and Greene counties was defeated on a vote of 7 to 6, June 20. At the same meeting legislators unanimously voted in favor of a feasibility study for a shared Solid Waste Management Authority between Greene, Ulster and Sullivan counties. The lawmakers who then turned and opposed the shared jail study were hypocritical, Windham legislator Lori Torgersen said. “There is a huge grassroots uproar about the fiscal irresponsibility of my colleagues in trying to continue to move forward with a jail,” Torgersen said. “The jail proposed is egregiously overbuilt or will be overbuilt and with that, I think the general public is starting to become well aware of that.” Catskill legislator Mike Bulich supported both the jail and shared solid waste feasibility studies because it is important to explore the probability of both ideas, he said. Bulich hopes the shared jail feasibility study will be addressed again, but is unsure about the support for it, he said. Cairo representative Bill Lawrence was glad the feasibility study was brought up for a vote, he said, because it represents the Legislature’s belief on a shared jail. “I think it’s been laid to rest by the majority,” Lawrence said. “The majority were saying ‘We don’t want to share’ and I think tonight, we proved it.” New Baltimore legislator Pat Linger said he voted with his constituents who are opposed to a shared jail in mind. Looking into a shared solid waste is a legal option, while the shared jail is not, he said. “Our constituents in New Baltimore don’t want to see their tax dollars spent in Columbia County,” Linger said. “The end result of the feasibility study is that it’s not a lawful use of public funds.” The existing Greene County Jail building, located on Bridge Street in the village of Catskill, was closed April 20 over structural safety concerns. It had been ranked one of the worst jails statewide by the state Commission of Corrections in February. A resolution will be brought before the Legislature in July to authorize the issuance of $39 million in bonds to pay for the construction of a new county facility in Coxsackie, a reduction in the original $51.4 million price tag, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.
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