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Legislative term limit vote fails

SCHUYLER COUNTY—A resolution limiting the term of each legislator to 12 consecutive years failed to receive enough votes by the Schuyler County Legislature, Monday, July 8.
Currently, there is no limit to how long a Schuyler legislator can serve. While four present legislators voted yes (Stewart Field Jr., Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes and Dennis Fagan) and three voted no (Glenn Larison, Doris Karius and Thomas Gifford), the measure still failed because the eighth legislator, Michael Yuhasz, was absent. Gifford explained that an absentee member counts as a “no” vote making the end result a 4-4 tie. Fagan added the legislature needed five votes to pass the resolution.
Before voting, Larison said “I can’t vote for this. It seems ridiculous. We have people elected by the people. It’s not a fluke. If they’re doing a good job, people will vote for them.”
Karius questioned the term limits, asking what would happen if no one runs for position once an incumbent has served the 12 year limit. She added, “people aren’t breaking down doors to be legislators.”
Halpin countered by saying people don’t want to run against incumbents. She said people would be more willing to seek election to the legislature if term limits were in place. Halpin added, serving on the legislature for an extended period of time makes representatives “become complacent. As responsible representatives of the people, I think you should recognize that.”
Fagan added that term limits on the state and federal level are an example that they should be applied at the local level as well. He said he supported the measure.
In other business:
• County Administrator Tim O’Hearn said he met with the Department of Social Services and representatives from the state. He explained the county will no longer be responsible for non-emergency Medicaid transportation services as of Aug. 1.
• O’Hearn reported that the claims are still being filed for the fire at the shared services complex. He said the roof will definitely need to be replaced. When asked, O’Hearn explained the plan is repair and return to the building before it snows.
• A public hearing was held for enrolling two parcels into the agricultural districts. The legislature approved added 144 acres owned by Walt Park and 16.07 acres owned by Steven Bannister into their respective districts.
• The legislature approved M. Shawn Rosno to fill the empty director of community services position at an annual salary of $100,000. The county also agreed to compensate Anne Bussard, deputy director of community services, for taking on additional duties as the acting director. She will be paid an additional $250 per week from June 15 through Aug. 12. The director position was vacated June 14, 2013.
• Judith Philips was approved to serve on the mental health subcommittee.
• The legislature accepted $2,000 from Mastermind Entertainment for the Sept. 21. Strong Kids, Safe Kids event. Mastermind has promised to provide a children’s obstacle course.
• The legislature approved the Finger Lakes Wine Festival and NASCAR event permits for Watkins Glen International.


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