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Push to save Monticello DOH office continues

By Joseph Abraham
Posted 3/18/22

BY JOSEPH ABRAHAM MONTICELLO –– It’s budget season in Albany. The state branches of government are negotiating the terms of the final budget, with an April 1 deadline. Earlier this …

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Push to save Monticello DOH office continues


MONTICELLO –– It’s budget season in Albany. The state branches of government are negotiating the terms of the final budget, with an April 1 deadline.

Earlier this week, New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther announced that the State Assembly’s budget proposal currently “includes language and funding to keep the Monticello [NYS] Department of Health (DOH) Field Office open and operating.”

This is opposed to its planned move to Middletown, which the Democrat reported on in January.

The proposed relocation of the district office has drawn the ire of local and elected officials, as well as several members of the community.

Gunther and NYS Senator Mike Martucci held a joint press conference at the Government Center in Monticello on February 22, standing side by side with local officials urging the DOH to reconsider the move.

Gunther received a call shortly after, notifying her that the DOH would stay through at least the summer. They were originally slated to move this spring.

As for the Assembly’s budget proposal, Gunther called it, “ ... a huge win for our community. I’m so proud of the way this community has come together to make its voice heard.”

Gunther said she made it a priority to get the language keeping the DOH in Monticello into the Assembly budget and said she has also explained the importance of the office remaining in the county to the Governor personally.

Gunther said she hopes her peers in the State Senate will lobby for a similar appropriation in their budget proposal.

Following their amendments to the Governor’s Executive Budget, both the Assembly and State Senate recently passed resolutions in support of their own package of budget bills. More amendments are to be expected before the Assembly and State Senate vote on whether or not to approve the final budget before the April 1 deadline.

“Now it’s negotiations, lots of prayers and advocacy from the people that live in Sullivan County, regarding the fact that we all want it [the DOH district office] to stay in Sullivan County,” said Gunther.

She urged citizens to continue to make calls advocating for the DOH office to stay here and thanked her colleagues in the Assembly “for recognizing how important” the matter is.

“I’m hopeful the Senate and Governor will agree that this is the best way to move forward,” she said.

On the Senate side

Senator Martucci’s Office confirmed that currently there is no specific appropriation in the State Senate’s budget proposal for the DOH Field Office to stay in Sullivan County, but in their view, one is not necessary.

They cited that the Governor’s budget proposal did not call for, or take away funding from the DOH with respect to the Sullivan County office, and that the proposed move was a result of executive action at the department level. They add that the budget, as currently proposed, will likely be the most robust healthcare budget in 20 years.

“Existing resources at DOH, including increases provided in the budget more generally, can easily cover any additional cost,” said Thomas Corlett, Senator Martucci’s District Director and Communications Director. “All this knowing cost was not the stated reason for DOH proposing to move from Sullivan County to begin with; they claimed it was lack of available real estate –– which we know to be a bogus claim.”

Martucci’s office said the Senator has written to and spoken to DOH on this matter. He has also advocated publicly in order to raise awareness in collaboration with Assemblywoman Gunther.

“So far these efforts have yielded results in the form of a stay from DOH,” said Corlett. “Senator Martucci appreciates Assemblywoman Gunther’s continued partnership and advocacy on this issue, and is hopeful a formal and final decision will be forthcoming from DOH.”


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