Monday, August 13, 2018

Ovid Town Board passes resolution supporting Seneca County development of a nine-element watershed plan for Seneca And Cayuga Lakes

The Town Board of the Town of Ovid passed a resolution on Wednesday (August 8) calling on Seneca County government to develop a Nine-Element Plan to pinpoint sources of pollution and steps to preserve the water quality of Seneca and Cayuga lakes.

The resolution, authored by Town Attorney Steven Getman, calls on Seneca County Government to work with representatives of the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, the Finger Lakes Institute, the Cayuga Lake Association, the Cayuga Watershed Improvement Cooperative and other stakeholders in preparing an application for funding a Nine-Element Plan, and ultimately in preparing and implementing the plan.

“Consistent countywide efforts to protect the watersheds of the lakes are preferable to town-by-town measures which may be inconsistent and ineffective due to the geography of the county and the watersheds,” Getman explained.

“Experience over the past decade has shown that effective watershed management includes active participation from stakeholders, analysis and quantification of the specific causes and sources of water quality problems, identification of measurable water quality goals, and implementation of specific actions needed to solve those problems.”

The resolution passed unanimously among the board members present. Voting for the measure were Supervisor Walt Prouty and board members Eric Holmberg and Joe Borst. Board members Mark Beardsley and Carrie Wheeler-Carmenatty were absent.

Following the vote, the board asked Town Clerk Michele Vangalio to forward a copy to the Seneca County Board of Supervisors.

A Nine-Element Watershed Management Plan is a clean water plan that details a community’s water quality concerns and a strategy to address these concerns. The plans are developed by people who live and work within the watershed with support from local and state agencies. The elements are intended to ensure that the contributing causes and sources of nonpoint source pollution are identified, that key stakeholders are involved in the planning process, and that restoration and protection strategies are identified that will address the water quality concerns.

The plans are consistent with the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation framework for developing watershed plans, and funding is available from the Department of State for 75% of the plan’s cost.

The Seneca County Board of Supervisors previously considered a motion considering a nine-element plan for Seneca and Keuka Lakes. The Ovid resolution asks that Cayuga be included in any such efforts as well.

In July, reports surfaced that Cayuga Lake is being monitored for Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB's), a visually identifiable bacterium which is blue or green in color and slightly resembles wet paint. People are advised to steer clear of the toxic bacteria, which is especially harmful to elderly people, those with weaker immune systems, dogs, and other pets.

The Town of Ovid, located in the geographic center of Seneca County, is bordered on the west by Seneca Lake and on the east side by Cayuga Lake.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Schuyler County may join lawsuit against Federal Government

The U.S. Department of Interior may have underpaid Schuyler County for payments in lieu of property taxes on federal lands within the county.

In response, the County Legislature’s Legislative Resolution Review Committee moved Wednesday (August 8) to authorize Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman to file papers joining a federal class action lawsuit initiated by Kane County, Utah.

According to Getman, the United States Court of Claims has held that underpayments on federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs in Kane County and other local governments may have occurred during 2015 to 2017. The PILT Act is intended to compensate local governments for tax revenues lost from federal lands in their jurisdictions, and the costs of providing services to those lands, Getman said.

That could include the part of the Finger Lakes National Forest in the Town of Hector, Getman said.

“If court determines the county was underpaid under PILT agreements for lands in the National Forest, the county can recover additional money” Getman said. “There is no cost to participate in the lawsuit and no disadvantage to the county to do so.”

According to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, “any money collected would go to the county as direct revenue to offset the cost of services to the forest and lost tax revenue, in order to reduce the local tax burden.”

“Given the fiscal stresses placed on local governments by state and federal mandates, county officials have a duty to make sure that any funds due Schuyler County taxpayers come back to Schuyler County to pay for necessary services,” Getman noted.

County Treasurer Harriett Vickio has reported that the County received payments for the affected years as follows: 2015, $16,526.00; 2016, $17,244.00; 2017, $17,091.00.

Any additional amounts for those years obtained from the lawsuit would be calculated by the court, Getman said.

The measure now goes to the full legislature for a final vote August 13 at 6:30 pm.

Monday, August 6, 2018

New York Commission on Parental Legal Representation to Hold Public Hearings

The Commission on Parental Legal Representation was created earlier this year "to examine the current state of mandated Family Court representation and determine how best to ensure the future delivery of quality, cost-effective parental representation.”

The Commission will be holding public hearings this fall “to gather information on existing services and suggestions for reform needed to ensure quality representation for persons eligible for assigned counsel in family law matters." It is seeking testimony related to the following topics:

• Funding and Caseloads;
• Timely Access to Counsel;
• Structural Issues;
• Model and Scope of Representation;
• Financial Eligibility Criteria and Procedures;
• Statewide Oversight Role; and
• Global Issues.
The deadline for submission of written testimony and requests to testify at the Commission hearings is Thursday, August 16, 2018.
The hearing dates, times and locations are:

• September 13, 2018, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., 50 East Avenue, Suite 200, Rochester;
• September 27, 2018, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., 27 Madison Avenue, New York City;
• October 10, 2018, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Justice Bldg., State St., Room 511, Albany;
• October 23, 2018, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., 100 Supreme Court Drive, Mineola.
For more on the hearings, including how to submit written testimony and requests to testify, click here.