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Milone to Bring Residents Concerns Before County Board

Written By Michael on 6/23/15 | 6/23/15

SCHOHARIE - Upset over the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors decision to build the new Public Safety Facility at Seebold Farm on Route 30, over two dozen residents came to the June Schoharie Town Board meeting to make their displeasure known.

However, before they got the opportunity to do so on Wednesday evening, Schoharie Town Supervisor Gene Milone addressed the audience, admitting in his comments that he "never anticipated this type of reaction."

Stating that "this facility has been apart of the community for twenty-five years," Milone made reference to a recent letter to the editor that spelled out the potential financial pitfalls the town would face if it lost the jail, including a loss in sales tax revenue.

But, recognizing that the assembled crowd's displeasure was "democracy at work," the town official told residents that "What I want to know is what you are looking for specifically," with a promise that if presented a solution in writing he will "make a motion to step backwards and look at additional properties."

Mr. Milone requested that residents join him at the county board meeting on Friday, June 19th at 9 am to support his proposed motion that will likely seek to restart the search process for a new location.

Milone's promise did not come without his warning that restarting the search process was likely to cost Schoharie County the Federal Emergency Management Agency's reimbursement for housing its prisoners in Albany County, a potential added cost of over half a million dollars to county taxpayers.

Furthermore, if the Public Safety Facility leaves Schoharie and fully disconnects from the Schoharie Water and Sewer District, the Village will lose approximately $35,000 of once guaranteed money, or roughly 8% of its overall pre-flood district income, a loss that will likely have to be picked up by the rest of the district.

Pleased by the supervisor's offer to bring their concerns to the county board, which has the final say on where the new jail will be located, residents led by Wanda Culyer began collecting emails, names, and phone numbers to organize their ideas into a unified and singular effort.

Still, cooperation came only after residents first disrupted reports from the town assessor and code enforcement officer with questions concerning the Seebold Jail site, which led Town Councilman Richard Sherman to repeatedly inject that "we can't do anything about this," because, Sherman pointed out, the decision is the county's to make.

In other business, the town board:

• Heard from Town Highway Superintendent Daniel Weideman that Schoharie has received an additional $6,500 from CHIPS funding for winter recovery. Additionally, Weideman reported that the town's two FEMA buyout properties have been demolished, and that they are at the next level of reimbursement.

• Heard from attorney Allison Phillips that the Schoharie County Planning Commission took no action on the municipality's proposed 6 month moratorium extension, meaning that the town could not take any action on it until thirty days after the commission's decision.

• Heard from John Wolfe of the Niagara Engine Company No. 6 that FEMA has approved an additional $6.4 million in federal funds to rebuild and relocate the company's fire house outside of the floodplain.

• Voted to hold a special town board meeting on Monday, June 29th at 5:00 pm to resolve the moratorium issue.
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