Sunday, December 10, 2023

5-hour Warren County meeting: Mullen no-deal, budget, sewer

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted not to accept the $18,000 high bid on the Mullen Iron Works property as offered in the County’s online public auction that ended Oct. 30.

The Mullen vote was one among several points of interest during the Board’s Friday, Nov. 19, monthly meeting. The meeting lasted about five hours, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with one 10-minute recess at 11:30.

The board did not entertain Queensbury Town Supervisor John Strough’s resolution from the floor to retain the Mullen property as a Warren County Bikeway Amenity. The less than one-acre parcel sits adjacent to the bike path on Bay Road, near the Queensbury-Glens Falls border.

Linda Clark of Glen Lake was one of 14 members of the public to address the Warren County Board regarding the proposed Septic Inspection at Transfer Law. It was subsequently tabled. Chronicle photo/Cathy DeDe

Board members Claudia Braymer and Dan Bruno of Glens Falls; Brad Magowan, Doug Beaty and Rachel Seeber of Queensbury; and Frank Thomas of Stony Creek were in the minority who voted to accept the $18,000 bid.

Among the majority of supervisors who voted not to accept it was Dennis Dickinson — although he chairs the Environmental Concerns and Real Property Tax Services committee that generated the resolution in the first place.

Why the change? Mr. Dickinson told The Chronicle, “The night before the Board meeting, I received three phone calls from fellow supervisors, including John Strough, asking to not sell it and let the county look at it as a possible asset to the bike trail.”

Mr. Dickinson said he was persuaded, “If we’re only going to get $18,000 for it, that’s such a token amount. If people on the board want to explore retaining and using it for the county, we should do that.”

He said he was told also, “There is quite a bit of money available in grants for bicycling,” to potentially develop the property.

Why wasn’t this raised at the committee meeting? “To be honest, I don’t know,” Mr. Dickinson said. He said he expects the discussion will now continue at the committee level, with input from the County Planning Board on possible grant options as well.

Divisions remain, however, between board members who said they see adding an amenity to the bikeway at this location as foresightful, and those who believe “another parking lot” is unnecessary, that the property should return to the tax rolls. Supervisor Beaty said, “This reminds me of the boondoggle at the airport, but smaller, a sort of mini boondoggle” — a reference to the county’s since-abandoned effort to expand the Warren County Airport runway.

Public mixed re: Septic law

Friday’s board meeting opened with a public hearing on the County’s proposed Septic Inspection at Transfer Law. Fourteen people spoke for just over an hour, from several perspectives. Many urged passing the law, some saying the proposal, which covers shoreline properties on Lake George and seven other water bodies, doesn’t do enough but is “a good start.” Those in opposition argued that the wording might allow inspectors to go on private property without notice, that individual communities or lake associations should oversee the effort rather than the county, and that the law overburdens private property owners.

Following public comment, the board voted to table a resolution adopting the proposed law. The special Septic Inspection at Transfer committee, headed by Glens Falls Ward 3 Supervisor Claudia Braymer, is scheduled to meet again on December 2.

Among other topics:

• Budget and weighted votes: The Board approved the 2022 Warren County budget of $173.3 million, including a tax levy of $4.1 million. This marks a decrease in the tax rate “by two cents, to $3.899 per $1,000 in assessed value,” the County said in a news release on the budget. The board also passed a resolution to reapportion the weighted votes of its 20 members, following the 2020 U.S. Census results.

• Concession to Glens Falls? Regarding a planned arrangement with the City of Glens Falls for the County to temporarily provide GIS (Geographic Information Systems) mapping services while the City fills a vacancy, Glens Falls supervisors Jack Diamond and Claudia Braymer requested the County waive its proposed $50 hourly fee. They said the City supports County GIS services even while it typically has its own staff. The discussion was tabled, to be sent back to committee.

• Tourism’s $1.2 million: Board members questioned the Tourism Department’s proposed 2022 media contract for up to $1.2 million, with the outcome being more committee involvement in decision making on how that money will be allocated and overseen.

• Fireworks: Public hearings were set for Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m. to consider rescinding the law that allows sales of personal fireworks in the County.

How Warren County’s weighted votes change

Here’s how the Warren County Board of Supervisors weighted votes were reapportioned, based on the 2020 U.S. Census:
Bolton lost 4 votes from 35 to 31
Chester lost 4 votes, from 51 to 47
Hague lost one vote, from 11 to 10
Horicon gains a vote, from 21 to 22
Johnsburg lost 3 votes, from 36 to 33
Lake George stays even at 53 votes
Lake Luzerne lost 4 votes, 51 to 47
Queensbury gains four votes each for the Town Supervisor and each of the four at-large members, from 85 to 89
Stony Creek, even at 12
Thurman lost 2 votes, from 19 to 17
Warrensburg lost 2 votes, 62 to 60
Glens Falls Ward 1 gains 1, 38 to 39
Glens Falls Ward 2 gains 2, 57 to 59
Glens Falls Ward 3, even at 57
Glens Falls Ward 4 lost 2, 30 to 28
Glens Falls Ward 5, even at 42

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