Otsego County Board reelects leadership team

Jan. 4—The Otsego County County Board of Representatives will have the same leaders for the new year.

Board members voted unanimously to keep the same leadership as last year during its first meeting of 2023, held Wednesday, Jan. 4.

The meeting was called to order by Clerk of the Board Carol McGovern. Margaret Kennedy, R-Hartwick, Milford, New Lisbon, was elected as temporary chair to seek nominations for board chair. David Bliss, R-Cherry Valley, Middlefield, Roseboom, received the only nomination, with several representatives seconding the nomination. Kennedy was re-elected as vice chair.

Bliss was unable to attend the meeting because he was quarantining after being exposed to COVID-19, Kennedy said. This is the sixth year Bliss has been elected board chair.

During the meeting, representatives gave several committee reports. During the Public Works Committee meeting roundup, Rep. Edwin Frazier, R-Unadilla, said the "Tiny Homes project is finally completed."

The Tiny Homes project began in 2018 to help homeless people after an audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found in 2014 Otsego County was paying more for homeless housing than four surrounding counties.

Representative Michelle Catan, R-town of Oneonta, asked if there was going to be an open house of the project for the community. Representative Adrienne Martini, D-Oneonta Wards 3 and 4, who chairs the Human Services committee, said the Department of Social Services is waiting until the weather gets better before holding an open house.

Kennedy asked if there could be a presentation to the board about the program at a future board meeting as it has taken several years and involved almost every county department.

Construction and architecture students at SUNY Delhi designed and started to construct the buildings in the fall of 2018. The project hit a snag when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and students were sent home. The pandemic also resulted in supply chain issues with some building materials.

Students at SUNY Delhi were able to build six of the 10 houses and they were delivered to the Meadows complex in July, 2021. The county had to install plumbing and electrical work, and build the last four homes onsite. A community center was also built at the site.

With inflation and the cost of building supplies increasing, the project went over budget and the county used some of the money it received from the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to complete the project.

During the meeting, the board passed several resolutions, including:

—Leasing office space at 21 Railroad Avenue in Cooperstown for the county public defender's office. The monthly rental fee is $3,500.

—Appointing Victor Jones as emergency services coordinator, Lori Lehenbauer as the Republican commissioner of elections, and Jeremy Hilton, Paul Neske, Raymond Smith Jr. and David Chase as deputy coordinators for the Office of Emergency Services.

—Creating, funding and filling a full-time assistant district attorney position for $78,924 to $96,462 and two part-time assistant district attorney positions at $58,723 per year.

—Designating The Daily Star and Freeman's Journal as official newspapers of the county.

—Contracting with Delaware Opportunities for $20,000 to provide the Big Buddies program to Otsego County residents.

—Establishing the salaries of several appointed and elected officials.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.