It’s the baseball postseason where they play hardball, but it’s also the political season around here and we’ve seen a couple of examples of the same brand take place in our faces lately.
County executive Michael Hein delivered some chin music when he revealed his budget proposal for the year 2012, sans funding for the Golden Hill Health Care facility, formerly called the infirmary, where elderly county residents could count on local care and treatment, while declining gracefully. But the facility needs, some say, $80 million worth of repair or replacement. Hein posits that $5.6 million is needed to keep it running in the next year while the county sells it to a Local Development Corporation (LDC) for $8 million (for details, see Page 5). He says that the LDC, which he will create and appoint and can borrow money with only a vote of its trustees, will then sell it and another operator will keep it open.
In a year when all budgets are pared to the bone, Hein, who hadn’t previously stated a position on whether the county should keep the facility or rid itself of Golden Hill, has apparently complied with the two percent tax cap limit. But only if the deal goes down the way he’s proposed it. Otherwise, the county legislature, which is split nearly down the middle on the question, will have to find the $8 million somewhere else.
We should note that the county budget has allocated $6 million for paying the notes on the Ulster County Jail. For decades. Think of how constricting that is in a two percent tax cap environment. Had that project not gone over its budget by nearly half, Golden Hill might be more viable.
Thus, Hein has laid down his marker, with a threat of a veto waiting false moves the legislature might make, and little likelihood of a legislative override. Hardball it is, my way or the highway.
The other award in the playing for keeps sweepstakes goes to RUPCO, for its instant shovels to the ground action regarding Woodstock Commons. Disregarding some of the conditions of its site plan approval, such as not using Elwyn Lane to begin construction, the developer continued talking to the town, threatening lawsuit, cajoling the planning board to modify the conditions, while at the same time it went balls-to-the-wall on the construction, clearing the property. RUPCO knew it was time to stop fooling around, it had the approval and knows that once you get in the ground, it’s too tough to stop.
We believe that the town of Woodstock has the tools in its zoning law and environmental review requirements to deal with large developers, but you have to be firm upfront. In the end, RUPCO swatted away the opponents like a heavyweight in the late rounds dealing with a spirited challenge from an outgunned middleweight.
And while we’re talking about sports, too bad about the NBA. I just want to see some good basketball and the league has the best hoops. I hope the players get to play, whether it in that league or elsewhere.++