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December 03, 2016
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A new course for county government

By Alan Sorensen

To change a ridiculous law that prevents the county legislature from making important changes, like hiring and firing a county manager, a new local law, which is receiving bipartisan support, is proposed to amend the county charter to remove this two-thirds majority requirement. Bottom line: if the majority of county legislators are unhappy with a county manager, then they should be able to give him or her notice and look for a new one—like any other “at will” employee. This matter will be taken up by the legislature at the full board meeting on January 24 at 2 p.m.

The 2007 charter revisions also moved the tentative budget due date from October 1 to November 15, which has left insufficient time to review the tentative budget, or to reach consensus on meaningful revisions to it. The proposed 2013 charter revisions also will restore the long-standing requirement for the county manager to submit the tentative county budget no later than October 1. I have long advocated for this change.

There are many issues facing the county, but I feel these charter revisions are necessary to restore the legislative intent of the charter and empower elected officials, not bureaucrats, to govern. Critics are charging such a change at this point is being made solely to allow the county legislature to make an immediate change in the county manager’s office. That’s not the case.

The introduction of the new law is the beginning of changing the course of county government to be more fiscally responsible, to allow better governance and to reorganize county offices and responsibilities for better efficiency, less waste and most importantly to bring government spending and property taxes under control.

It’s the start of a new beginning in Sullivan County government and I urge you to support the change.

[Alan Sorensen is a Sullivan County legislator.]