What happens next?
It’s a question we hear a lot around this time of year — especially from elected officials. The problems are myriad. The solutions don’t come easily. The oaths of office have been taken and 2019 stretches out before us.
The Columbia County Board of Supervisors has much more work to do on pending issues; Board Chairman Matthew Murell, of Stockport, spoke those words three times in a single statement Thursday.
The Greene County Legislature, now dominated by Republicans 12-2, faces the prospect of building a new county jail and voters in November elected several pro-jail lawmakers.
“We have a jail to build,” Legislator Gregory Davis, R-Greenville, said Thursday. This looks to be the prevailing sentiment and all-consuming issue for 2019 in Greene County. The battle with foes over cost, property tax increases, future debt and even the necessity for a new jail — when jail sharing with Columbia County has been an apparent success for more than eight months — is likely to spill over into the new year.
Unfortunately, it seems most residents aren’t seeing the big picture: A new jail keeps some jobs in Greene County, but at what cost to the taxpayer? A handful of jobs with a multi-million-dollar price tag seems like taking one step forward, two steps back.
We strongly urge new Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, to use his leadership to make public monthly comparative figures on a new jail and sharing a jail with Columbia County including number of inmates, boarding and transportation costs.
Murell touted 2018’s accomplishments — funding for a fire-training center, using surplus workers’ compensation money to offset the cost of state-mandated cancer insurance for volunteer firefighters, the county’s agreement with the Galvan Foundation to house homeless people referred by the county Department of Social Services in the Galvan Civic Motel in Greenport — but, in Murell’s words, “There is still a lot to do.”
The scourge of the opioid epidemic has not gone away with the passing year and work on a plan to install an estimated $9.2 million sewer line along Route 66 to connect the Gerald R. Simons Commerce Park to Greenport’s wastewater treatment center will continue.
Hope springs eternal for local governments in early January, but in 2019, Columbia and Greene county officials face major issues — not to mention costly ones — that will have lasting effects.
So, what happens next? How about answers, solutions and transparency? Twin County taxpayers deserve nothing less.