Saratoga County Board of Supervisor: They will meet tomorrow (April 21, 2020)

The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors will meet tomorrow, Tuesday, April 21, in Ballston Spa at 3 PM. I spoke to Saratoga Springs Supervisor Tara Gaston today about the meeting. I was concerned about the Supervisors meeting in person given the restrictions on gatherings and the need for social distancing.

She explained to me that they will not be meeting in their normal room due to the need for social distancing. She told me the room selected will allow for spacing out the seats. Supervisors who are concerned about the risk can participate remotely.

The decision was made to meet in person after the many technical difficulties experienced in the remote special meeting held on Friday.

People can listen in to this meeting and can submit comments that will be read by the Clerk at the meeting.

To listen in at 4:00 PM tomorrow (April 21) you can call 1-844-855-4444 and enter the Participation Passcode 823993#

To submit comments you can send an email to PWright@Saratogacountyny.gov


Some Thoughts About the Resolution on Tomorrow’s Agenda Offered by Preston Allen/Spencer Hellwig

At the aborted Supervisor meeting last Friday, there was a resolution on the agenda that was meant to reset the County’s management of the COVID-19 emergency. I believe the source of the resolution was not only the chair of the Board of Supervisors, Preston Allen, but the County Administrator, Spencer Hellwig. The reality is that Spencer Hellwig is a major player , if not the major player, in shaping the county’s policies.

While I have some reservations regarding the appointments made to this new committee that would oversee the county’s responses to the pandemic, it does address a number of the concerns arising from the actions of the previous committee set up to address the pandemic.

It includes:

  1. Disbanding the Covid Operation Group. This is the committee that implemented and then retracted the salary increases.
  2. Establishing a new committee made up entirely of Supervisors. While the committee would be stacked in favor of the current leadership of the county it would include three Supervisors who signed the letter challenging the county’s management of the response to the pandemic
  3. It explicitly affirms that this new committee will be subject to the open meetings law.
  4. It directs the committee to submit its recommendations for actions to the Law and Finance Committee. The Law and Finance Committee approves resolutions that go to the full Board of Supervisors. This charge should insure that any actions enjoy the support of the full Board of Supervisors.

It appears that the public outcry has had an effect. Overall I think it appears to be a good resolution.


This is the text of the original resolution

4/17/20
SARATOGA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
RESOLUTION 90 – 2020
Introduced by Chairman Allen
CREATING A SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO OVERSEE THE COUNTY’S OPERATIONAL AND BUDGETARY NEEDS RESULTING FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
WHEREAS, the 2019-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an infection associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness, appears to be transmitted from person to person predominately through droplet transmission and, if spread in the population, could have significant public health consequences; and


WHEREAS, on February 1, 2020, pursuant to 10 NYCRR Section 2.1(a), Dr. Howard A. Zucker, as Commissioner of Health of the State of New York, designated COVID-19 as a communicable disease under the State Sanitary Code, which was ratified on February 6, 2020 through the adoption of emergency regulations amending 10 NYCRR Section 2.1; and


WHEREAS, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic; and


WHEREAS, there are over 246 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saratoga County and that number is increasing; and


WHEREAS, Saratoga County has a clear governmental interest in protecting the health and safety of the residents of the County and beyond; and


WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 24 of the Executive Law of the State of New York, on March 16, 2020 the Chair of this Board of Supervisors issued Executive Order No. 2 of 2020 declaring a State of Emergency in Saratoga County for a period of thirty (30) days effective at 12:00 pm on March 16, 2020; and


WHEREAS, on April 15, 2020, the Chair of this Board issued Executive Order No. 4 of 2020 renewing his proclamation of a State of Emergency in Saratoga County due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic for an additional period of thirty (30) days effective at 12:00 pm on April 15, 2020; and


WHEREAS, on March 15, 2020, the County Administration issued a directive to all County departments to reduce staffing levels to approximately 50% by having non-essential employees stay at home in an effort to help contain the spread of COVID-19; and


WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No.202.4 directing local governments to allow non-essential personnel to be able to work from home or take leave without charging accruals, except for those personnel essential to the locality’s response to the COVID-19 emergency, which non-essential personnel shall total no less than 50% of the total number of employees of each local government; and


WHEREAS, Resolution 84-2020 of this Board granted the Chair of the Board, the Chair of the Law and Finance Committee, the Chair of the Human Resources and Insurance Committee, the County Administrator and the Director of Human Resources the temporary authority to jointly determine appropriate County employee staffing levels and rates of compensation that are consistent and in compliance with the current directives of any Executive Order issued by the Governor of the State of New York relative to local government staffing levels; and


WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic is having, and will continue to have, significant adverse impacts on the national, state and local economies through the closing of businesses, high unemployment rates, unpaid real property taxes, and substantially lower sales tax and occupancy tax revenues, in addition to increased health care and related costs associated with combatting the COVID-19 pandemic; and


WHEREAS, those employees staffing the County’s COVID-19 Command Center and the employees of Saratoga County Public Health Services who are at the forefront of the County’s efforts to combat and address the COVID-19 crisis are experiencing high levels of work-related stress; and


WHEREAS, this Board needs to provide a coordinated response to address the many operational and budgetary challenges facing the County during the COVID-19 disaster emergency and the recovery period that will follow, and it is therefore appropriate that a special committee of this Board be created pursuant to County Law §154 to provide such coordinated response; now, therefore be it


RESOLVED, that a special committee of this Board consisting of seven (7) members to be known as the COVID-19 Planning Committee is hereby created effective immediately and for a term continuing through December 31, 2020, which special committee shall have the powers and duties specified hereafter; and be it further


RESOLVED, that COVID-19 Planning Committee shall coordinate the County’s response to the COVID-19 disaster emergency, which coordination shall include, but not be limited to, obtaining and evaluating critical economic and revenue data for the County; making recommendations to the Law and Finance Committee for County operational and staffing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery period to follow; making recommendations to the Law and Finance Committee relative to the hiring of additional medical professional and clerical staff for Saratoga County Public Health Services Emergency Preparedness Program team; making recommendations to the Law and Finance Committee as to the provision of additional personal time to those CSEA employees working directly in the County’s COVID-19 Command Center; and making recommendations to the Law and Finance Committee for proposed amendments to the 2020 Saratoga County Budget; and be it further


RESOLVED, that the COVID-19 Planning Committee shall meet biweekly or at the call of its Chair; and be it further


RESOLVED, that the COVID-19 Planning Committee shall report its findings and recommendations directly to the Law and Finance Committee for such further action as the Law and Finance Committee shall deem appropriate; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the meetings of the COVID-19 Planning Committee shall be subject to the provisions of the Open Meetings Law of the State of New York, and the Committee’s records and the records of its proceedings shall be subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law of the State of New York; and


RESOLVED, that Resolution 84-2020 is hereby amended to delete the eighth

RESOLVED paragraph of said Resolution that authorized the Chair of the Board, the Chair of the Law and Finance Committee, the Chair of the Human Resources and Insurance Committee, the County Administrator and the Director of Human Resources to jointly determine appropriate County employee staffing levels and rates of compensation that were consistent and in compliance with the current directives of any Executive Order issued by the Governor of the State of New York relative to local government staffing levels.


BUDGET IMPACT STATEMENT: No budget impact.

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