HUDSON — Despite 12 supervisors voting against the resolution and 11 voting in favor, the Columbia County Emergency Management Office will no longer be a division of the county sheriff’s office.
The Columbia County Board of Supervisors exercised its weighted voting provision and passed a resolution to change the county’s Emergency Management Office from a division of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office to an autonomous department.
Emergency Management was a part of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office since 2011.
“We did have several meetings with the sheriff-elect,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell said. “And we did have discussions to try to answer everyone’s questions. That was a month-and-a-half that we delayed this.”
Supervisors took a roll-call vote on the resolution. Though the vote was 12-11 against making Emergency Management an independent department, the resolution passed under the weighted voting system, which the supervisors use at its full board meetings.
Weighted voting is based on the population of each town and the city of Hudson and gives each supervisor points out a total of 3,535. Using the weighted points scale, the vote was 2,191 in favor of the resolution and 1,344 against.
Krapf said Tuesday that supervisors rushed the vote and he maintained his opposition to separating the department from his office.
“I just got off a meeting with emergency management operations and there was nothing mentioned about it,” Krapf said. “I was never formally notified of the results of the vote. I still oppose the vote. I oppose the removal. There’s been no formal notification to my office in regards to the outcome of that vote.”
Krapf was sworn in as sheriff Saturday. Because he just got into office on Jan. 1, he has not had the opportunity to review much of the data that come along with the office.
“It’s one-fifth of the sheriff’s office,” Krapf said, referring to Emergency Management. “We have five different divisions, Emergency Management being one. We were asking for a pause on this vote based on just getting into this office and reviewing data, reviewing how it’s going to impact us, not only financially, but with equipment and manpower.”
As incoming sheriff, Krapf said he hoped to have the opportunity to review data so informed decisions could be made.
“I think we should have been afforded the opportunity to review the data to see how this is going to affect our office, and also the safety of the citizens of Columbia County,” Krapf said.
The timing of the resolution in relation to Krapf’s election drew concerns from several supervisors during the vote.
“We needed to gather more information and do our due diligence before voting on this very important issue,” New Lebanon Town Supervisor Tistrya Houghtling said in a statement. “Many supervisors, including myself, first learned about this proposal at the November public safety meeting. I requested that Chairman Murell postpone this vote and allow time to investigate best practices for emergency management. He declined to seek consensus. I’m disappointed in today’s vote, but I hope that we can find common ground on other issues facing our county in the future.”
The only issue from supervisors about the vote has been the timing, Stuyvesant Town Supervisor Ron Knott said.
“We’ve had quite a bit of discussion on this subject over the past couple of months,” Knott said. “And the discussion is all good. What we’ve learned is that the folks who actually provide our emergency response, our EMS coordinator, our fire coordinator and our emergency management coordinator all believe that this is the best for the county.
Gallatin Town Supervisor John Reilly said he has been receiving mail constantly from residents questioning the timing of the resolution.
“I would support the resolution after due process,” Reilly said. “I think we need that process over the first quarter. I asked for two or three months stay on this to give us a chance to educate our residents. I am nothing if not the voice of the residents of Gallatin and the residents of Gallatin have asked for a pause on this, so I will have to reluctantly vote no.”