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Catskill, New York
Business/Growth | Hard news | Politics/Government
16 September 2019 08:48PM
Wayne Sheridan

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THE GREENE COUNTY TAXPAYERS IS TODAY STARTING A MOVEMENT TO HALT, RETHINK AND RE-PURPOSE THAT WASTEFUL JAIL PROPOSED FOR COXSACKIE

THE COUNTY NOW HAS A SECOND CHANCE: WILL THE LEGISLATORS TAKE IT?

It’s time to HALT, RETHINK and REPURPOSE the wasteful jail construction in Coxsackie

The new jail construction in Coxsackie is purportedly “ahead of schedule.” (“Jail ahead of schedule,” Sarah Trafton, September 10, 2019, The Daily Mail) There seems to be a rush to complete the project: “They are working 10-12 hours a day, six days a week,” according to Legislator Harry Lennon, (D) Cairo. Also, according to the article, “Huessler (the project manager) expects the project will be half-way completed by December.”

Perhaps the rush is because the County legislators know that since the project is now using funds from a general obligation bond which can be used for any reason the County deems appropriate, and it is not a revenue bond, which needs a special revenue producing use. If the County had received a USDA loan, they would have been required to use the funds to build the jail. There is no such restriction on the general obligation bond.

Congratulations — of sorts — are in order for the Greene County Administrator, Shaun Groden and County Treasurer, Peter Markou, for securing a low, 2.49% interest General Obligation Bond for county expenses, purportedly for the building of the new county jail in Coxsackie. (“County obtains low interest rate for jail,” The Daily Mail, August 16, 2019)
Ironically, and gratefully, Mr. Groden and Mr. Markou must also be congratulated on giving the county legislators, and the county citizens, a second chance to reconsider completing the building of that wasteful, unnecessary structure in Coxsackie.

The lower interest rates on the bond, rather than a loan form the USDA, which was first considered, will save the county @ $7.68 million. Of course, saving that amount on the very questionable expense of building, maintaining and operating a 60-bed jail, when the county’s own prosecutors told the legislatures that the average inmate population would be 18, and others estimate it can be as low as 10, borders on the ludicrous. The total expense over 30 years is hard to pin down, primarily because the current sheriff never gave an operating cost estimate to the legislature; but, it is generally understood that the low estimates are in the $65 million range and the high in the $90 million range – which makes it the largest single expense in the county’s history.
So, how about it members of the current Greene County Legislature – are you going to step up and take advantage of this second chance? Or, are you going to pass it by and needlessly spend $65 to 90 million of our citizens’ hard-earned money?

One can almost hear the objections from those “thick heads” still bent on building that 60-bed, useless jail: “We have already spent nearly $7.5 million (or whatever they will claim they have spent) putting in the infrastructure and preparing the ground.” The answer: such infrastructure can be used to build most anything on that site; it need not be a huge jail. How about low- or moderate-income housing? – sorely needed in the county. More senior housing? Veteran’s housing? Incubator space for start-up industries? Now, that the site is prepared, why not sell it to an industrial or commercial enterprise? The list is long, very long.

Yes, how about it, County Legislators? The citizens of Greene County want to hear from you.

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