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Board of supervisors were in touch

Ed Townsend - Columnist
Posted 5/17/21

Although the last Board of Supervisors left office on December 31, 1995, the nostalgia of their tenure still brings back memories.

As we quietly sit back and watch today's government get larger …

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Board of supervisors were in touch

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Although the last Board of Supervisors left office on December 31, 1995, the nostalgia of their tenure still brings back memories.

As we quietly sit back and watch today's government get larger and larger, we began remembering that our county had a pretty good form of government under the former board of supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors was a governing body that oversaw the operations of county government both here in Sullivan County and in many counties across the state. In fact, Delaware County is still governed by a Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors not only had monthly committee and regular meetings in Monticello to talk about county business, but also governed their own townships in Sullivan County at their respective town halls.

The board of supervisors governed the county by a weighted voting system, whereby the larger townships - Thompson, Fallsburg, Liberty and Mamakating - had more votes than smaller townships like Forestburgh (the smallest), Fremont, Delaware and Tusten.

Those supporting the new layer of government wanted county representatives who all had an equal voice, thus avoiding three or four supervisors from possibly working on their agenda by themselves.

Today, each of the nine legislators represent approximately 8,400 county residents and at least a 5-4 vote is needed to pass a resolution.

With the approval of the legislature in November of 1994, that meant that the county was adding another layer of government because we would still need supervisors to govern our 15 townships.

At one time the Sullivan County Charter Review Commission also recommended the addition of an elected county executive to replace our appointed county manager.

We commented at the time that this is nothing more than another layer of government that we do not need.

In our travels throughout Sullivan County we ask the folks their opinion on having a board of supervisors or a county legislature with an elected county executive.

The majority told me they favored the supervisors and not the legislature because they felt the supervisors were more responsive to town folks… some town supervisors in the past even told me they have rarely - if ever - seen their legislator at a town board meeting.

Today, it appears, many more legislators are making an effort to reach out to their constituents through attendance at town board meetings. To those who do, thanks.

Will we ever return to the Board of Supervisors to run Sullivan County?

We think not, but the work they did as a team, while not always agreeing, and their accessability to residents and knowledge of their community, are strengths we will remember.

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