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Thursday headlines PM

Mar 24, 2011 4:46 pm
State budget would shift more than $40 million to property taxpayers, county officials say
Mid Hudson News Network reports that in state budget negotiations going on in Albany, it has been suggested that county taxpayers could be forced to pay over $50 million for public health programs at the county level. The New York State Association of Counties is critical of the proposal noting that, “State lawmakers can’t in good conscience continue to shift costs down to local property taxpayers, walk away from these programs, and then expect these services to continue at the local level." The state is proposing to eliminate all reimbursement for public health programs effective July 1 for services of medical examiner; early intervention service coordination for special needs children under three; visiting nurses for those receiving long long-term care services at home; dental services for children under 21; inspection and review of x-ray and radiation equipment; and environmental health services.


County upgrading IT systems

Francesca Olsen writes that Columbia County legislators are hoping to finalize a three year push towards complete digitalization of county records by Oct.1, when county employees will be able to sign up for direct deposit, which they previously haven’t been able to do. Timekeeping will be electronic, and budget transfers, after Board of Supervisors approval, will be logged automatically.
According to the County's Board of Supervisors Chairman Roy Brown, R-Germantown, the technology overhaul will be “soup-to-nuts.” The $1.2 million project will be paid for over seven years with payments of $170,000 each; the first payment being bonded out this year after which the amounts will be added to the annual budget of the county’s managed information systems department.


Suspicious package closes Main Street

The Daily Mail reports that the Catskill Police Department announced in a press release that at 8:09 on Thursday, March 24 , the Catskill Police Department received a report of a suspicious package that had been left on the front steps of The First Niagara Bank at 341 Main St., in the Village of Catskill. Catskill Village Police responded to the scene, located the package, described as a large sealed black plastic bag. The area was secured, and The New York State Police Bomb Disposal Unit was notified and responded. The package was examined, determined to be non hazardous and removed, according to protocol established by New York State Police. The Catskill Police Department was assisted at the scene by The New York State Police, The Greene County Sheriff’s Department and The Catskill Fire Department.

No Fracking Way
The Times Union's Capitol Confidential has a video up of the roughly 90 anti-fracking protesters who marched up the Capitol steps and occupied the War Room, just outside the governor’s chambers and spent some 45 minutes keeping up a chant of “No Fracking Way” this afternoon, March 24. "These folks were older and whiter than the protesters who’ve been marching for a Millionaire’s Tax and against school cuts, but they were plenty energetic," writes reporter Rick Karlin, who added that a representative from the gas drillers, Jim Smith, was on hand, passing out a press release noting that the state’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, a key document, isn’t even completed on hydrofracking.

Teacher's union president accuses district of bad faith negotiations
Hilary Hawke of the Ravena News reports that Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk school district teachers and staff turned out in full force for a recent Board of Education meeting eager to hear their district superintendent's suggestions for the 2011-2012 school year. "And while most probably expected the news would not be good, many felt sideswiped by the board's suggestion the superintendent approach all bargaining units and request a salary freeze," Hawke writes, noting how Teacher Association President Matt Miller called the suggestion "interesting" since the board had ratified the teacher's contract at the March 1 meeting and had not mentioned a salary freeze then. "The union feels the attack on our salaries represents bad faith negotiations," she quotes Miller saying. "Why would they ask the staff for a salary freeze just weeks after we negotiated the contract?" The teacher's contract, ratified on March 1, extends through June 2013. It gives teachers a 2.5 percent increase, calls for higher co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions, and provides the superintendent with flexibility on the start time of the school day.

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