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Legislature supports legal services proposal

YATES COUNTY—Yates County Legislature tackled a problem that is unique to many small counties during its Feb. 12 meeting: indigent legal services. Yates County will lose 100 percent of its allocation of $65,979 if the required Maintenance of Effort (MOE) is not met. The resolution read, in part, “The existing system discourages providers of indigent legal defense from finding efficiencies and assumes that spending more money equates to providing better service.”
Following the meeting county administrator Sarah Purdy spoke about the problem, noting, “If costs do not go up five percent every year there is no money. The application of the rule in every county doesn’t always work that well.” Purdy said the population in Yates County is static which affects the caseload. A proposal has been made in the case the county cannot increase services by five percent, they would just lose five percent of funding in place of losing the entire amount and they passed a resolution to this effect. Gov. David Paterson has included language in his 2009-10 budget proposal that in the event a county still does not meet the MOE by using a three year average of local expenditures for the basis of the MOE calculation, the county would lose only a percentage of its funding instead of 100 percent.
In other business: Set a date for a public hearing on a local law to increase tax exemption for persons 65 years of age or older at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 in legislative chambers. A sliding scale is proposed and if put into law would be effective with the 2009 assessment roll.
• Legislators approved increasing the occupancy tax administration fee from three percent to five percent. Purdy said, “To help the people who collect the tax and to help with the collection. At the time the law was adopted, the legislature agreed to look at it again.” She said auditors are here now and a report on the first year of the tax is expected by March.
• Agreed to request home rule legislation for an extension of authorization for a one percent increase in sales tax that was extended previously, effective Dec. 1, 2007.
• Adopted 2009 employee benefits for non-union personnel.
• Accepted donation of a nearly new condition 16 feet double axle and doors enclosed utility trailer that augments law enforcement storing and getting special equipment to incidents when required. Sheriff Ron Spike said the donation was from Florence Gilkey, who is a nurse practioner at the Rushville Health Center. Spike said in a chance conversation with Gilkey, she mentioned she had the trailer and wanted to donate it. Spike told her that it would be put to good use here, and donation of the trailer, worth approximately $3,500, was set in motion. He said it’s not uncommon for the department to be offered donations of this type from time to time.
• Appointed Dr. David Schirmer to the S2AY Rural Health Network Health Services Advisory Board.
• Kathryn Smeenk was appointed to the Yates County Community Services Board for a term ending December 2012.
• Appointed John Burritt of Penn Yan Fire Department to the Yates County Fire Investigation Team.
• Legislature chairman Robert Multer appointed June Pendleton to a two year term on the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board.
The next regular meeting of the Yates County Legislature will be at 1 p.m. March 10 in legislative chambers in the county office building on Liberty Street in Penn Yan.

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