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Legislature hears from candidate

PENN YAN—All 14 seats on the Yates County legislature will be on the ballot in November and one candidate raised some questions following the July 13 meeting of the group. Calling himself an angry taxpayer, Mark Morris stated about 30 percent of county residents do not require county services, indicating there is room to improve regarding costs on public safety and transportation. Morris maintained other services such as trash pickup are provided in other counties.
He also disputed the cost of services ranking that legislator Taylor Fitch had outlined earlier in the meeting. Legislature chairman Robert Multer asked Morris if he had any recommendations and Morris responded, “I will have.”
Discussion followed regarding the numbers Morris used for county expenditures with legislator Douglas Paddock asking if, when analysis was done, the revenue side was provided. After Morris said the figures were taken from the expense side only, Paddock said he felt it was not really representative. Morris also took issue with the fact that Yates County does not share sales tax revenue with other county municipalities and Multer responded, “Whether you share sales tax or not doesn’t affect property taxes.”
Legislator Nancy Taylor asked for clarification of the 30 percent figure of residents are not protected, for example by fire departments. Morris stated, “What I said was they use very little of county services.” County administrator Sarah Purdy noted there are areas such as farming accidents, “which know no boundaries.” She said in the arena of public safety and public health services are used, noting that because local schools are not used by some residents,  people don’t use services.
Legislator Robert Nielsen asked, “Why doesn’t someone from the group sponsoring your candidacy come to these meetings?” Multer added, “One of their goals is transparency. I think they should publish who they are and who provides the money.”’
During the legislative reports prior to the meeting, Fitch read a statement which included, in part, “A county legislature is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of its citizens. Providing these services has been this way from the beginning.” He listed the various services, adding, “So, practically speaking every county in New York State is in a similar boat. But all these boats have a mother ship; New York State. By its use of mandates the state directs every single department of a county by either funding or regulation, but usually both.”
Fitch continued, “Now it would seem to me that if all counties faced the same basic mandates and costs to provide services that counties with a higher population would be able to spread the costs over a larger number of people and therefore have a smaller expenditure cost per person. This does not seem to be the case; in fact, many smaller counties with the same basic costs of services actually have a lower expenditure per person. A most recent report shows Yates County ranked 43rd out of 50 as having the lowest cost per person.”
In other business: Opposed an amendment of the state Vehicle and Traffic Law regarding the process for setting trial dates for citizens who have pled not guilty and wish to have a trial. Legislator Donna Alexander, who presented the resolution, called the amendment another unfunded mandate.
• Legislators voted to request an extension of the comment period from 30 to 45 days to allow comments on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s preparation of a Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact statement for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale and other like formations. The resolution noted there are residents who stand to be directly affected by gas drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, and the county shares the concern of other local governments in the state that responsible development should occur.
• Authorized Purdy to sign a letter of agreement with Raymond Wager, CPA for an analysis of wind energy production in an amount not to exceed $6,000.
• Appointed Amy Daines as Republican Election Commissioner for a term from July 27 to Dec. 31.
• Commended Director of Probation Kristine LaRock upon her retirement for 16 and one half years of service to the county.
• Reappointed John Socha of Himrod to a three year term on the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board. Representatives from Newark, Canandaigua and Clifton Springs were also reappointed.
The next meeting of the Yates County Legislature will be at 1 p.m. Aug. 10 in legislative chambers in the county office building on Liberty Street in Penn Yan.

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