Is Greene County breaking the law?
May 15, 2019 12:59 am
The Greenville Pioneer reports that when New Baltimore legislator Pat Linger cast his vote last year against a study about Greene County sharing a jail with Columbia County, he claimed "that it’s not a lawful use of public funds.” Linger and other legislators who backed the idea to raise taxes to build a new county jail claimed it was illegal to share jail services with other counties. Allen Riley, chairman of the state Commission of Corrections said that claim does not appear to be true. "The Commission has emphasized that whether to construct a new facility or whether to seek legislative authority to share services with another county was a local decision to be made by Greene County," Riley wrote. Right now Greene County continues to share a jail with Albany and Columbia County, and no county official has been arrested and placed in one of those facilities. On April 19, Greene County had 31 inmates in jails in Albany and Columbia County, according to a jail intake report. Of those 31 inmates, 17 are charged with felonies and 14 are charged with misdemeanors. A new law passed by the state legislature going into effect in 2020 makes police issue appearance tickets to individuals charged with misdemeanors and class E felonies rather placing the accused in a county jail. "We‘re going to spend about $70 million for an 80-bed jail for 15 people," former county legislator Lori Torgersen said about Greene County's plan to build a new jail, rather than continue to share services with Columbia County. Sarah Trafton reports for Columbia-Greene Media that Greene County Legislator Michael Bulich added a resolution to rescind the bond for the proposed new jail and the bids for its construction to the agenda for the May 15 legislature meeting. Two-thirds of lawmakers would have to agree to rescind the bond. Last Sept. 19 Catskill's legislative team split on the bond vote, with Linda Overbaugh and Matt Luvera, voting to move the facility out of Catskill, and Michael Bulich and Kevin C. Lennon voting against the measure. Also voting for the measure were Cairo's William B. Lawrence and Harry A. Lennon; Hunter's Larry Gardner; Greenville's Kevin Lewis; Athens' Lee Palmateer; New Baltimore's Patrick S. Linger; and Coxsackie's Thomas M. Hobart and Charles A. Martinez. Windham's Lori Torgersen, and Durham's Aidan O’Connor, Jr. were the other 'no' votes.