Putnam County Revised Budget Transfer

Public safety has always been the Putnam County Legislature’s first priority, but faced with unexpected overtime costs and budget manipulations by the County Sheriff’s Department, the Legislature took a stand to protect taxpayers.

In its December meeting, the Legislature voted overwhelmingly against a last-minute Sheriff’s Department request to transfer $121,115.11 in funds to cover overtime for the road patrol. The money requested had been allocated during the 2019 budget process to cover Sheriff’s Department expenses in 40 different spending categories, not for overtime.

“Public safety is our top priority,” Legislature Chairman Joseph Castellano said. “There has certainly been an increase in overtime and we don’t know why it is going higher and higher every year. We definitely need to have a better conversation with the Sheriff’s Department about that.  Moving money from 40 different budget lines to cover a portion of this overtime is concerning to me, and it should be to all of us.”

The Sheriff’s deputies who worked the overtime have been paid but, in a nearly unanimous vote, the Legislature expressed its displeasure at the Sheriff’s Department’s budget maneuvers.  Only Legislator Nancy Montgomery voted in favor of the transfer.

“No elected official can exceed the budget expense line without consequences,” Legislator Neal Sullivan, who couldn’t attend the meeting, wrote in a statement Castellano read. “The practice of transferring funds from one line to another should be used solely for extenuating circumstances. The systemic use of transferring money to cover overtime has become a major concern. Policies and procedures need to be put in place so we can work together to make sure we are not continually dealing with this.”

The discussion came up as part of an end-of-year budget reconciliation.

“This is not a public safety issue, this is a respect for taxpayers’ issue,” Legislator Paul Jonke said. “We gave him the parameters within which he needed to work.”

Legislator Ginny Nacerino said it was time for the Sheriff’s Department to take a more realistic approach to budgeting.

“It is our job to be good stewards of taxpayer money, and I take that job very seriously,” Nacerino said. “This transfer is not openly transparent. It begs the question of why in the twelfth month of this year there is so much left in these lines and whether these 40 lines were overinflated. We can’t operate like this. It is not best practice.”

“This really boils down to proper planning,” Legislator Carl Albano said. “We should have an idea where the budget is going and it should be in the ballpark. Surprises at the end of the year shouldn’t go down like this.”

“I’m not in favor of moving money around to cover road patrol overtime that has already been incurred,” Legislator Amy Sayegh said. “When we approve the budget for books and postage and furniture it should be used for those purposes and not overinflated to pay for something else down the road. It is understood that we need to pay the deputies for the work they performed and they deserve to be paid. What I have a problem with is deficit scheduling.”

“Moving forward we need policy and procedure to improve the process,” Legislator Toni Addonizio said. “We need more transparency and openness moving forward.”

Just in time: Local History Holiday Gift Guide

BREWSTER, New York — Looking for a unique holiday gift that promotes hometown pride and supports a great cause? Well, look no further! The Putnam County Historian’s Office has curated a gift guide in support of local history, and related historical societies, non-profits and museums. These gifts include T-shirts, mugs, historical prints suitable for framing, books on local history and historical fiction, and the all-important membership packages that help keep these organizations up and running during their pursuit of preserving Putnam County’s rich history.

The organizations include: Boscobel, Carmel Historical Society, Kent Historical Society,
Landmarks Preservation Society of Southeast, Patterson Historical Society, Putnam History Museum in Cold Spring, Putnam Valley Historical Society, and Southeast Museum in Brewster.

“The Local History Holiday Gift Guide not only provides great gift tips but important information on each organization and their mission,” says Jennifer Cassidy of the County Historian’s Office. “Supporting them with the purchase of a T-shirt, book or membership package, all aid their missions of preserving and presenting Putnam’s past.” Complete contact information for the Historian’s Office, societies, and museums is included in the guide.

Book highlights from the guide include: “Vignettes of Patterson’s Past”, a collection of Patterson’s histories by the Society in a hardback book illustrated with maps, photos and more; “History of Putnam County, New York”, by William S. Pelletreau, the quintessential linen bound, local history book reprinted by Landmarks Preservation Society; and the respective societies offer Bicentennial profiles of Town of Kent and Historic Carmel, Mahopac & Mahopac Falls.

Mugs and a wonderful selection of local history books and exhibit catalogues are available at Putnam History Museum while the Southeast Museum offers iconic reprints of the village of Brewster from 1867 and 1870 as well as local historical fiction titles by Putnam County author Deborah Rafferty Oswald.

Know someone who loves baseball? The Putnam Valley Historical Society has a limited run of rare images of Babe Ruth playing baseball at Lake Oscawana, suitable for 8” x 10” framing.

2019 Putnam County Gift Guide – County Historian

 

The guide can also  be viewed online at the Historian’s website

www.putnamcountyny.com/countyhistorian and a limited amount of printed copies are available upon request by calling 845-808-1420 or emailing historian@putnamcountyny.gov.

Public hearing will be held before the County Executive of the County of Putnam December 17 at 4:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. Resolution 283

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a public hearing will be held before the County Executive of the County of Putnam at Room 300 of the County Office Building, 40 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, New York 10512 on the 17th day of December at 4:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. concerning:

A LOCAL LAW

Establishing the 2020 Salaries of Certain Appointed Officers Serving for Fixed Terms, which was adopted by the Putnam County Legislature on December 3, 2019 by Resolution R#283.

This Local Law sets the 2020 Salaries for certain appointed officers serving for fixed terms as follows:

Paul Eldridge
Personnel Director………………………………………………………………$138,487
Michael Nesheiwat
Commissioner of Health…………………………………………………………$185,996
Michael Piazza
Commissioner of Social Services/Mental Health/Youth Bureau……………….$147,632
Director of Real Property Tax Services…………………………………………$ 98,257
Anthony Scannapieco
Commissioner of Board of Elections……………………………………………$ 93,730
Catherine Croft
Commissioner of Board of Elections……………………………………………$ 93,730
Michele Alfano-Sharkey
County Auditor………………………………………………………………….$112,424

Copies of the Local Law are available at the Office of the Putnam County Legislature, Room 313, 40 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, New York 10512.

At the aforesaid time and place all persons interested in the subject matter thereof will be heard concerning same. Comments will also be accepted via regular mail submitted to the above referenced address, electronic mail to PutnamCountyExecutive@putnamcountyny.gov and facsimile to (845)808-1901.

This Local Law shall take effect forty-five (45) days after its passage and is subject to permissive referendum.

Dated: December 5, 2019
Carmel, New York

Jennifer S. Bumgarner
Putnam County Attorney

public hearing will be held before the County Executive of the County of Putnam December 17 2019 at 4:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. Resolution 282

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a public hearing will be held before the County Executive of the County of Putnam at Room 300 of the County Office Building, 40 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, New York 10512 on the 17th day of December at 4:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. concerning:

A LOCAL LAW

Establishing the 2020 Salaries of Certain Elected Officers Serving for Fixed Terms, which was adopted by the Putnam County Legislature on December 3, 2019 by Resolution R#282.

This Local Law Sets the 2020 Salaries for certain elected officers serving for fixed terms as follows:

MaryEllen Odell
County Executive………………………………….……………………………$162,271
Robert L. Langley, Jr.
Putnam County Sheriff………………………………………………..…………$152,862
Michael Bartolotti
County Clerk…………………………………………………………………….$133,067
John Bourges
Putnam County Coroner……………………………………………………$185 per diem
Michael Nesheiwat
Putnam County Coroner……………………………………………………$185 per diem
Daniel Stephens
Putnam County Coroner……………………………………………………$185 per diem

Copies of the Local Law are available at the Office of the Putnam County Legislature, Room 313, 40 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, New York 10512.

At the aforesaid time and place all persons interested in the subject matter thereof will be heard concerning same. Comments will also be accepted via regular mail submitted to the above referenced address, electronic mail to PutnamCountyExecutive@putnamcountyny.gov and facsimile to (845)808-1901.

This Local Law shall take effect forty-five (45) days after its passage and is subject to permissive referendum.

Dated: December 5, 2019
Carmel, New York

Jennifer S. Bumgarner
Putnam County Attorney

Public hearing will be held before the County Executive of the County of Putnam December 17 2019 at 4:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. Resolution 272

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a public hearing will be held before the County Executive of the County of Putnam at Room 300 of the County Office Building, 40 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, New York 10512 on the 17th day of December at 4:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. concerning:

A LOCAL LAW

To Amend and Revise Section 190-6 of the Putnam County Code Entitled “Plumbing and mechanical Trades”, which was adopted by the Putnam County Legislature on December 3, 2019 by Resolution R#272.

This Local Law amends and Revises Section 190-6 of the Putnam County Code, by outlining the types of individuals who shall be selected for membership on the Putnam County Plumbing and Mechanical Trades Board, specifically outlining who should be included to form a “representative group”.
Copies of the Local Law are available at the Office of the Putnam County Legislature, Room 313, 40 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, New York 10512.

At the aforesaid time and place all persons interested in the subject matter thereof will be heard concerning same. Comments will also be accepted via regular mail submitted to the above referenced address, electronic mail to PutnamCountyExecutive@putnamcountyny.gov and facsimile to (845)808-1901.

This Local Law shall take effect immediately upon filing with the New York Secretary of State.

Dated: December 5, 2019
Carmel, New York

Jennifer S. Bumgarner
Putnam County Attorney

“Last Chance” Flu Clinic Set for Dec 3 at the Putnam County Department of Health; National Influenza Vaccination Week runs from Dec 1 through 7

BREWSTER, NY—The flu season may have gotten off to a slow and steady rise, but there is no way to predict when a spike may occur. In New York, flu activity is usually highest between December and February. a “last chance” public flu vaccination clinic is scheduled for Tuesday, December 3, hosted by the Putnam County Department of Health as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week. The recognition week, which runs from December 1 through December 7, focuses attention on the importance of flu vaccination for all ages. These illnesses often linger into spring as well.

“If you have not yet received your flu shot, we hope you will take advantage of the health department’s ‘last chance’ clinic,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “It offers the best protection to ensure you don’t miss out on school or work, or any of our important holiday and family gatherings this month or next.”

Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, M.D. also reminds everyone that, “Pregnant women and those with chronic health issues should take extra care to get immunized against the flu. Those with heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes are at increased risk of flu-related complications and exacerbation of underlying disease, even if these conditions are well-managed.” This wise advice is supported by a new campaign, represented by the hashtag #LowerYourFluRisk launched by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

The clinic will be held at the health department office at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster, from 2 to 6:30 p.m. No appointments are necessary. Any Putnam County resident, 18 years and older, is eligible to receive flu vaccine at this clinic. The fee, covering vaccine cost and administration, is $25. There is no fee for those over age 65 or with a Medicare card. High-dose flu vaccine will be available for individuals, 65 years and older, which studies have shown appears more effective in fighting flu in seniors. The nasal spray flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine will not be available at this clinic.

The more individuals who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from the flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women and individuals with certain health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications. For questions concerning flu vaccination or in the event of inclement weather, please call the Health Department at (845) 808-1390.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com ; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

World-Renowned Performance Artist To Take Cold Spring By Swarm

Putnam County Tourism is excited to announce a free interactive performance art piece designed by world-renowned, multimedia artist Marinella Senatore. The event, hosted by the Magazzino Italian Art Foundation, will be taking place on Nov. 16 in Cold Spring — just a hop, skip OR jump away from the train station (north on the Hudson 851 line). Senatore has exhibited her art installations in museums across the globe from Paris to Cape Town to Rome, and her street performances have reached just as many amazing places far and near (as near as Queens, NY — pictured below)! Come join Italian renaissance woman Senatore and her troupe as they perform a 3-hour set of sequences on a tour of the village.

Come join us for what is sure to be the experience of a lifetime! When Senatore’s sequence ends, you’ll be sure to find plenty more to explore in the Village of Cold Spring. At just over an hour north of Grand Central Terminal, the village is recognized as one of the best day-tripping locations in the Hudson Valley, and for good reason. It’s home to a variety of fun, cozy shops, restaurants and B&Bs, serving as a popular getaway for many stressed out city-dwellers. It’s also designated as the drop point for many nature cruises coming out of New Jersey and New York City; the sightseeing ships dock near a beautiful open courtyard with plenty of riverfront seating. Cold Spring’s winning combination of natural beauty and vibrant community make it a must-visit destination any time of the year.

Come out to witness (and maybe take part in!) this priceless, one-time-only event, in a priceless, one-of-a-kind place. Did we mention that admission to the Magazzino Italian Art Foundation is free to the public year-round and offers a free shuttle from the village train station? With all of its charm and activity, it won’t take long before you find yourself back in Cold Spring.

 

Vance Lovett, Freelance Writer

Vance graduated Carmel High School in 2011 and studied Dramatic Arts at the University of Southern California, where he was granted the prestigious Jack Nicholson award. In addition to his creative pursuits, he enjoys good lumbar support, the improv comedy scene, and spending time with his family, their four giant dogs, and one talkative kitty.
He’s happy to be living back in Carmel, NY.

Putnam To Announce Formation of the Putnam County Domestic Violence & Sexual Violence Task Force

WHERE: The Putnam County Historic Court House, 44 Gleneida Avenue
WHEN: Monday, November 18 at 1 pm
The Putnam/Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center in collaboration with the Putnam County District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, and Probation Department will be announcing the formation of the Putnam County Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Task Force.

The purpose of the task force will be to inform and make the public aware of domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking—and the problems and tragedies that result from them. The goal is to empower people to seek help for themselves or others whom they feel may be in need of assistance.

The Task Force agencies will share statistics, aggregate data, and perform educational awareness and training in the community including high schools, social organizations, and various other organizations within the community who may have need of services for their members.

Involved agencies will collaborate in order to effectively communicate with each other to help improve services to victims.

Victim awareness, safety, and confidentiality are vital in domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking cases, and the Task Force will place a priority on these issues.
For further information, contact the Putnam Northern Westchester Women’s Center at 845-628-9284 or the Putnam County District Attorney at 845-808-1050.

19-03 – PUTNAM DA PRESS RELEASE – DV Task Force

 

NYSEG Falls Short

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell blasted NYSEG for its poor performance and lack of communication during a windstorm that left thousands of residents without power and without a clue as to when it would be restored.

Even Putnam’s Bureau of Emergency Services couldn’t reach NYSEG during the height of the windstorm, which began Thursday evening.

“NYSEG’s response is completely unacceptable,” Odell said. “The company left residents in potential danger and left our emergency response teams without support.  This is a public utility and communication with the emergency service agencies that protect the public is paramount. Not to mention that the company is obligated to let residents – their ratepayers — know where the power is out and when it will be restored.”

NYSEG reported to the state Office of Emergency Management that only five customers were out in Putnam County, when there were actually 2,709 customers without power as of 11 a.m. Friday.

Odell said she expects NYSEG to provide a complete accounting of its slow response and breakdown in communications before the winter storm season begins.

“Every storm we get, it’s the same thing,” State Assemblyman Kevin Byrne said. “The utility’s lack of response is, unfortunately, not unusual.”

State Sen. Pete Harckham called NYSEG “the poster child for bad performing public utilities.”

 

“I would have hoped that experiences from several prior storms, all much more severe than what occurred last night, would have resulted in better preparations for downed lines, better communications with affected municipalities and better responses for customers,” Harckham said. “Again, NYSEG has failed to achieve a proper standard of emergency management, which threatens our public safety while inflicting personal and economic misery on thousands of residents.”

 

NYSEG’s response was outrageous, Bureau of Emergency Services Commissioner Ken Clair said.

“At one point, the 911 supervisor called me because 911 couldn’t even get through to NYSEG,” Clair said. “We normally have a special number we call for power outages, and they weren’t answering it. I reached out to our NYSEG spokesperson and asked what I should do and he gave me the 800 number that the public calls to report a power outage. It’s an automated phone line! Can you imagine? They want the 911 center to call an automated phone line. That does not work.”

The storm, which brought winds up to 40 mph from Thursday night through Friday, had been forecast well in advance. NYSEG notified Putnam County on Thursday afternoon that 21 mutual aid companies would be available to help, but that aid was nowhere to be found.

Several emergency responders throughout the county had to guard over downed wires for hours during the storm before NYSEG responded. In Kent, it took two hours for NYSEG to respond to the fire department’s calls. In Putnam Valley, fire department volunteers had to stand guard over live wires on Peekskill Hollow Road all night before NYSEG sent a crew to shut off power.

“Our volunteer first responders were managing live wires for seven hours, from 9:20 p.m., when the first call came in, until 4:30 a.m., when NYSEG finally cut the power so that the road could be passable,” said Larry Cobb, Chief of the Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department. “That is unacceptable.”

In Lake Carmel and Patterson, the fire houses were still out of power as of 11 a.m. Friday morning, as were the Patterson Library, much of the Carmel schools and an untold number of residents.

County Legislature adopted a $165.1 million budget for 2020 that remains within the state property tax cap and maintains the county’s conservative approach to spending

The Putnam County Legislature adopted a $165.1 million budget for 2020 that remains within the state property tax cap and maintains the county’s conservative approach to spending.

The Legislature made minor adjustments to the budget proposed by Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell earlier this month, shortly after receiving notice that Moody’s Investor Services had upgrading the county’s bond rating to the coveted Aa1 status. That proposal represented a conservative $5.9 million, or 3.7 percent, spending increase over the 2019 budget.

“This is an outstanding budget,” Legislature Chairman Joseph Castellano said. “I’m really excited about the bond rating, the Aa1 rating. It’s great for residents. Going forward we can save some money when we borrow. It’s a testament to all the hard work done by Putnam County employees. This year we briefly touched on the possibility of losing a few employees, but I am very grateful to note that there were absolutely no layoffs this year. I’m looking forward to 2020.”

Some of the Legislature’s changes included reductions to the Planning Department budget, the Transportation Fund Balance and Sheriff’s Department overtime.

“This is a team effort and this is a bare bones effort, which is the reason there is not a million cuts,” Legislator Ginny Nacerino said at the Tuesday night meeting. “You can do that when you have a good budget handed to you. “

The Legislature also put several items into a contingency fund, holding the money for future use or while the board seeks more information.

Among the items held in contingency are $15,000 for maintenance in Parks and Recreation, $30,000 for special services in the District Attorney’s office, $15,000 for license plate readers requested by the Sheriff’s Department and almost $18,000 for a promotion to sergeant.

“We want to have clear policies and procedures around the use of data in the license plate readers,” Legislator Neal Sullivan said. “We want to know how long they are going to keep in and who is going to be able to see it. There are a lot of questions regarding the use of data and we want to know we have the correct policies in place.”

The personnel committee is awaiting clarification on whether the promotion to sergeant involves a road patrol officer or a school resources officer and will discuss the matter in its November meeting.

“My question is, if the SRO is partly paid for the by the school district and we move an SRO to a sergeant position, who is paying for it?” Chairman Castellano asked. “We can’t just impose a cost on the schools or we need to know if the county is footing the bill.”

The board held the Sheriff’s Department to a 2 percent increase in overtime. The Legislature agreed to fund $520,000 in overtime, an increase of $12,000 over the department’s 2019 spending, but $242,000 short of what the department sought.