Cortland County Legislative Chairman Mike Park held a special legislative session last night where he and legislative leaders laid out the priorities for the coming year.
Park who is in his second year as chair of the County Legislature says he wants to focus on developing some long term strategies to stem the ongoing losses at the landfill, lawmakers have been struggling for at least three years now to agree on proposals to stem the flow of red ink on the landfill balance sheet. The landfill looses several thousand dollars a year due to high debt payments and falling revenues. The lack of revenue is mostly due to a lack of tonnage coming into the facility. Park points to the decision at the end of 2012 to fully privatize the recycling center as an example of positive change.
Other goals include wrapping up the environmental review for the proposed industrial Crown City Wind Project.
Completing the county emergency radio project and restructuring the 9-1-1 Center and County Fire and Emergency Management Office.
Park also wants to streamline the county committee process by combining the personnel and budget committees, he also wants to work with the various towns to possible consolidate town justice courts.
Park says the legislature must also begin exploring options for the county jail which is constantly overcrowded and costing thousand to send prisoners to outside jails.
Park also wants to see more oversight of the county’s finances, he feels the disconnect between the county treasury and the administrators office needs to be fixed with some clear understanding of what each department is responsible for.
Finally Park is confident the ongoing issues surrounding the counties assigned counsel program can be remedied this year. Park is hoping to work with the local bar association to get a new conflict defender position approved as well as an assigned counsel administrator approved.
Republican Majority leader Susan Briggs and Democratic Minority leader Sandy Price both called for better communication in the legislature this year. Briggs says the landfill is a priority for her as well as minimizing and settling lawsuits against the county including the lawsuit by former County Public Defender Keith Dayton who is seeking $14 thousand dollars worth of back vacation pay.
Price cited the rising jail costs as a primary focus for her.