Putnam Approves $221K for COVID-19 Supplies

Also, OKs license-plate readers for Cold Spring

The Putnam County Legislature on Tuesday (April 7) unanimously voted to allocate $221,144 for medical and related supplies to assist county and municipal health care personnel and first responders in fighting COVID-19.

Participating in their monthly meeting from diverse locations via an audio hook-up due to social-distancing restrictions, the legislators acted after receiving a “letter of necessity” that County Executive MaryEllen Odell wrote on Monday. The item was added to the agenda shortly before the meeting adjourned.

The funding provides $150,000 for medical items and gear; $31,144 for related materials; and $40,000 in cleaning-janitorial supplies for county employees who are first responders, as well as first responders in communities short on masks and other personal protective equipment.

Toni Addonizio (R-Kent), who chairs the Legislature, said the county expects to be reimbursed by the federal government for 75 percent of the expense, reducing the Putnam share to about $55,000.

Whether towns and villages would have to pay for equipment they receive was not clear. Addonizio said Putnam would track the supplies and account for the reimbursements “before making any assessment” on local municipalities.

Legislator Nancy Montgomery (D-Philipstown) described the resources as “a long time coming.”

“We needed them a month ago, when many first responders didn’t have personal protective equipment,” she said. “They’re still kind of scrambling to get enough. We’ve needed it from the very beginning. I’m glad we’re getting it now.”

The time it took “is not the fault of Putnam County or anyone,” Addonizio said, noting that every county is in the same position.

Legislator Neal Sullivan (R-Mahopac) urged the county to give recipients flexibility in using the aid. “We can’t hold them up when time is of the essence,” he said.

He noted that decisions on equipment to counter the pandemic involved not only Odell but financial and purchasing officials and the law department. He also mentioned “how hard it is to get the proper supplies that are actually approved by OSHA [the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration] and all the right agencies, so that we’re not picking up supplies from China that are not helpful to our employees or first responders.”

Montgomery advocated that no cleaning supplies go to the Putnam County Golf Course but be offered instead to county-supported social service agencies that serve children and women at risk. “We’re still not at the apex of this,” she cautioned.

In other business …

■ Legislators approved allowing the Cold Spring Police Department to spend $13,399 in county money to acquire four license-plate readers as long as the department follows a pending Sheriff’s Department policy on utilizing, sharing and retention of the data. The arrangement, promoted by District Attorney Bob Tendy, uses funds from the DA’s forfeited assets reserves.

■ The Legislature approved a six-year contract with the Police Benevolent Association, the agency representing law enforcement officers in the Sheriff’s Department, after three years of negotiations. The contract, which covers 2017 through 2022, provides an annual increase of 2.5 percent to the deputies and other officers.

■ Legislators approved the sale of several properties that are delinquent in tax payments, which should bring in $1.5 million to $2 million in revenue, said Legislator Carl Albano (R-Carmel).

“At this time we project a sizeable shortfall of income in Putnam County due to the coronavirus epidemic,” he said. “Having these properties go for sale will stop us from any additional expense with regard to reimbursement to the towns, and school taxes.”

Through a program known as Chapter 31, the county has been using the Multiple Listing Service to sell properties that are in tax lien foreclosure since 2013.

Montgomery voted in favor of the sales but suggested lawmakers explore programs that other counties use to give nonprofits early notification about the sales. “Land trusts often want to add to their parkland, or have a program they would like or need property for,” she said.

Legislator Amy Sayegh, R-Mahopac Falls, said she’s glad to see the sales pending.

“It’s important to get them back on the tax rolls, but it’s also important to our communities to get these abandoned properties back to a purpose,” she said. “Nobody wants to live next to an abandoned property, and I’m happy to see they will get new life and happy to see they will return to the tax rolls.”

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