Local Communities Cash In
On Last Minute Albany Bills
By Edie Johnson
UPDATE: The Skoufis Senate Office clarified today that a list of grants that were circulated yesterday were actually mostly grants that were distributed over several of the past few years. Only items that had originally been printed in bold were new allocations, Per a longstanding Senate rule the entire list had to be printed. There was approximately $300m that had been distributed since 2008-2009 and the $1M left over in that Capitol Fund that was appropriated/distributed last night was given mostly to hospitals and organizations in New York City. HOWEVER, that means a hefty new Capitol Fund has been started with monies that will be available with appropriate applications, so if you had a goal or project that did not get supported, don’t give up…go for it in the coming months. The list printed in area news media last night included a grant for the Village of South Blooming Grove and one for Blooming Grove Parks Upgrades that were both distributed in previous years. They emphasized that new applications for park and environmental and water upgrades will be given serious consideration in the coming months, and that a new source of funding for the Village of South Blooming Grove Water emergency through EFC emergency funding is in the works through the State Department of Health who will be contacting Mayor Jim LoFranco soon.
And finally: Marijuana is being decriminalized, but that does NOT mean it is legal, unless with a medical certification. What that means is that very small amounts will not result in a criminal record, but they will result in a hefty fine. More on that next week.
Some bills pass in Albany quickly, while others seem to take forever. Last week the multi-award-winning New Windsor Ambulance Corps proudly stood by their new Ambulance, the result of two grants obtained over the past two years, The total of both grants combined was $275,000 and along with another received earlier they replace older ambulances that needed to be updated. Supervisor George Green and at time Chief of Staff Colin Schmitt assisted New Windsor Ambulance in applying and obtaining these grants. New Windsor Ambulance provides basic and advanced life support to over 6,000 local residents each year and responds to over 4,000 calls annually. Between the grant funding and the trade-in of the ambulances no out additional funds would be needed for both of these ambulances. The vehicles being replaced were from 2009 and 2012 and were in dire need of replacement. The state-of-the-art high tech equipment in this ambulance will surely help them save lives. The American Heart Association has awarded New Windsor Ambulance in excellence in cardiac care and has received countless awards by the County, State and Region for being an example for other agencies to follow. (See more about other pressing EMS needs on page 5)
But as we go to press there are dozens of other funding necessities that are “nearly” passed in Albany, and a last -minute rush to put them through went through the evening, still being hammered out. Bills on the table tonight include needed local funding for the Village of South Blooming Grove’s urgently needed water system upgrades ($500,000), a $250,000 grant for the Vail’s Gate Fire Department, for Kiryas Joel ($500,000 unspecified uses), for the City of Newburgh ($500,000 unspecified use), Greater YMCA Newburgh ($250,000) and hundreds of thousands that will be going to Safe Harbors Lobby at the Ritz and Independent Living, Inc.
Among other grant monies on the table, of special importance to local communities and pending final decision/Governor’s signature: Blooming Grove Parkland Upgrades ($250,000), Facility Renovation for the Historic Goshen Track ($250,000), and a Countywide Community Preservation Act that would facilitate towns to opt into reserving a very small portion (.75%) of real estate sales to preserve open space and the Rural Character that is fast disappearing in our river and mountainside municipalities. The Orange County Land Trust stated, ” By designating Orange County as part of the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act of 2007, (this would enable) all Towns and Cities in Orange County to vote on whether or not to implement a local PDR (preservation of development rights) program. Realty groups are balking at this small contribution that many feel is a main attraction for people to move to our ecologically rich local towns that bring in important tourist business. Supporters worked through the night calling their representatives in hopes of moving this bills of the desk and into fruition, at least if they receive the approval signature of the governor.
As the end of the Albany session tried to wrap the pending bills up late Wednesday night, it was clear there was too much still to do. They had time to pass Drivers Licenses for undocumented immigrants, new voting machines an early voting system, efforts at automatic voting, and farm workers’ rights. It soon became clear that another day would be required, and another evening would be needed.
One of the party leaders in the waning hours was quoted as saying “There is not that much left. Maybe we should bundle them.”
Then at 8:34 Thursday night there was news of a piece of last-minute Legislation for Video Lottery at a $100M Gaming Parlor for Woodbury-Harriman at the former contaminated Nepera site. Senator Skoufis said it will be “Prohibited from Receiving Tax Breaks, and will Remediate a Contaminated Property in the Community”, and will bring in at least 400 new jobs.
Did they in fact pass or bundle any or all of the other local bills, or will they have to make another try in the next session?
Captions: New Windsor Ambulance Squad, which is made up of 70 volunteers and an executive staff stand in front of the new ambulance that will help them to help others.
New Windsor’s beautiful high tech upgraded ambulance will help them to save more lives. But many of our local Volunteer Ambulance and Volunteer Fire Department fleets are in danger because of a critical shortage of volunteers. They can only help surrounding communities to a certain point before they put their own home base at risk. So volunteer for EMS or a Fire Department if you can, or put the word out if you have friends who might be able to volunteer!