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County is out of space

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — May 18, 2010 — “We’re officially out of space now.”
That was Henry Belser’s blunt assessment of the records he maintains for county government.
On Thursday, Belser, coworker Steve Miller and their boss, County Clerk Dan Briggs, informed legislators that the county’s records retention facilities are maxed out.
“We’re generating more records than we’re legally able to destroy,” Briggs explained. “... We are running out of available space.”
And the space that’s left isn’t ideal, he added: two pole barns and a rolloff container – all lacking temperature controls – are home to many of the county’s records.
Meanwhile, deeds, legal papers, court documents and application forms continue to be generated by every part of county government, each with legally-mandated retention periods.
Many, too, have to be produced after being filed, as in the case of trials.
“It’s quite a big job that basically we’re doing now with smoke and mirrors,” advised Belser, lamenting the lack of even a dedicated county vehicle to transport these documents.
County Manager David Fanslau said a central facility would be expensive to construct. He pointed out that the county is trying to scan as many documents as it can into electronic files, which obviously don’t need the space paper files do.
Still, the county is looking into expanding storage locations, possibly at the former Apollo Mall and an old, unused county facility at the Social Services complex in Liberty.
DA gets one of two
Work on the county’s Strategic Plan update continued at this past Thursday’s legislative committee meetings, with a range of departments outlining their goals and needs.
District Attorney Jim Farrell made a particularly impassioned plea to be granted more staff – specifically another assistant DA and a legal secretary. Some legislators, like Ron Hiatt (an attorney himself), were reluctant, while others, like David Sager, were supportive, sparking a long and vigorous debate.
Eventually Farrell got permission to add an assistant DA, but the legal secretary will have to wait.
$5M for landfill closure
The contract to close the landfill was unanimously awarded by the Government Services Committee on Thursday.
The Delaney Group of upstate Gloversville won the bidding process and will be retained for $5 million to cover the landfill, install erosion and sedimentation controls, collect and control the landfill gas, and create a new access roadway and water management system.
“It’s an important milestone,” noted Legislator Alan Sorensen, adding that “the bid came in just over $1 million less than the engineers estimated.”
Flooded properties sold
Nine properties bought by the county through the Greater Catskills Flood Remediation Program last year have now been sold to other entities.
While mostly individuals, the new property owners include a funeral home in Livingston Manor, a business in Roscoe and the Youngsville Fire District in Youngsville.
The lands, however, are severely deed-restricted, as they each have suffered serious flooding in the past decade. The county, in fact, bought them with state grant monies in order to demolish the existing buildings and allow flood-ravaged property owners to walk away with some money in their pockets.
Still, most of the properties were just sold by the county for tiny amounts between $100 and $2,000. One piece, however, along Maynard Street in Roscoe went for $10,000.
Legislators unanimously approved the sales during Thursday’s Planning Committee meeting.
Tax auction coming soon
This year’s county tax auction of foreclosed properties is set for June 9, Treasurer Ira Cohen told legislators on Thursday.
To be held at 10 a.m. at the Lodge at Rock Hill, the auction will feature around 200 properties, down slightly from the prior year due to more redemptions and repurchases than anticipated.
For more information, call the Treasurer’s Office at 807-0200 or log on to

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