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Support for universal health care, but not proposed bill
The Cold Spring Village Board at its March 9 meeting passed a resolution in support of universal health care in New York — but it stopped short of endorsing the New York Health Act being considered by the state Legislature.
If passed, the bill, first introduced in 1992, would pay for health care for all New York residents through a combination of federal funds the state receives from Medicare and Medicaid and a progressively graduated tax on income from wages and investments.
When Cold Spring resident Jeff Mikkelson, a co-founder of Hudson Valley Demands New York Health, addressed the Village Board in January, he asked trustees to adopt a resolution he provided, endorsing the bill which, he said, would save Cold Spring $280,000 annually, Philipstown $800,000, the Haldane school district $1.6 million and Putnam County $21 million.
The resolution passed by the Village Board on March 9 didn’t include the potential savings and omitted other elements of Mikkelson’s proposed language.
Before the vote, Trustee Eliza Starbuck objected to the changes. “I don’t feel this is what the public asked us to do,” she said. “We were asked to support the enactment of the New York Health Act and we’ve said everything but that” in the revised resolution.
Starbuck added that the resolution doesn’t “do anything to move the New York Health Act forward.”
Trustee Joe Curto expressed doubt about the New York Health Act as written.
“I have concerns about New York State running something of that magnitude,” he said. “I also have concerns about the costs, which are not defined as of yet.”
Trustee Tweeps Woods also spoke in support of the revised resolution. “The fact that we are saying we support this [bill] being brought forward and worked on is very reasonable.”
Mayor Kathleen Foley said the board had consulted with the village treasurer, who administers health care for employees and retirees, and who expressed doubts about how the bill would affect retirees.
Foley said she is “broadly in support of universal health care,” which she said works well in Massachusetts.
However, the mayor had asked that references to the Haldane Central School District be removed. “We should not be making reference to Haldane in a village resolution,” she said. She also felt the estimates of village savings, compiled by an advocacy organization, and not the village, were inappropriate and so asked that reference to the bill having value to all village residents be removed.
“I don’t know that it has value to every resident,” she said.
Regarding the revisions to Mikkelson’s proposed language, the mayor commented: “Frankly, this is how the sausage gets made; we put forward an idea, we talk it through and we find something we can agree on.
“We are asking the state to enact a universal health care system as proposed,” Foley said. “I think we’ve reached a good compromise.”
The resolution passed, 4-1, with Starbuck casting the lone nay vote.
During the public comment period, Mikkelson said that several residents had written letters to the board in support of his original resolution, 75 people had signed a petition and the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce board had voted unanimously in support of it.
Mikkelson said it was wrong to remove the reference to the “substantial savings” to the village outlined in numerous studies over the years, “even if you weren’t willing to commit to a [specific] number.”
The approved resolution is essentially “an endorsement of the status quo,” he said. “You might as well pass a resolution in support of the Hudson River continuing to flow.”
He asked the board to consider passing an additional resolution in support of the New York Health Act, as Philipstown and other municipalities have.
Cold Spring resident and business owner Rebeca Ramirez expressed support for Mikkelson and Starbuck.
“I’m disappointed [Trustee] Cathryn Fadde asked if the proposed New York Health Act is like the system used in Massachusetts,” she said, “If one trustee doesn’t know for sure what the bill is comparable to, maybe more [people] than her didn’t have the time.”
Ramirez echoed Mikkelson’s request for a resolution supporting the New York Health Act. “People in Cold Spring support this bill; it’s revolutionary and practical,” she said.
While Foley praised the amount of community support Ramirez and others had developed for the bill, she stuck to the decision to revise Mikkelson’s proposed resolution.
“This board approved a resolution that we felt we could approve,” she said. “Now it goes to the state and that’s where this decision gets made.”
In other business …
■ The tentative 2022-23 budget will be posted on the village website on Monday (March 21) and a public hearing is scheduled for April 13.
■ The village plans to issue residential parking permits in the spring and summer and introduce metered parking on Main Street in the fall.
■ The owner of the River Rose proposed docking the Newburgh-based cruise boat at Dockside Park from May through November for special events. Foley said she did not believe Cold Spring was an appropriate location.
■ Royal Carting will deliver trash and recycling containers to residents in early April and the village will announce a location for disposal of the current containers.
■ Code Enforcement Officer Charlotte Mountain resigned to take a full-time supervisory position with the City of Newburgh. The village will seek help from the Philipstown Building Department until the position can be filled.
■ Cold Spring Police Department officers responded to 48 calls for service in February and issued 19 parking and 14 traffic tickets. One arrest was made under the Mental Health Act, which enables emergency hospitalization for observation and treatment. With the board, Officer-in-Charge Larry Burke discussed the need for security cameras in vandalism-prone areas, such as the dock, Mayor’s Park and the pedestrian tunnel.
■ The Cold Spring Fire Co. answered 19 calls in February, including five activated fire alarms, two calls to assist emergency medical services, the pumping of a flooded home, a motor vehicle crash, an elevator rescue and an indoor smoke odor. CSFC also answered eight mutual-aid requests from the Garrison and North Highlands fire companies, including for chimney fires, motor vehicle crashes, smoke investigations and two hiker rescues.
■ The Recreation Commission’s special events coordinator job description is posted at coldspringny.gov. The commission is working with Owen Carmicino on his Eagle Scout project to erect a sign at the Sept. 11 Memorial at McConville Park. The Boy Scouts will help with $3,000 in fundraising for the project.
■ The board approved the sale of a 665-square-foot strip of village-owned land at 45 Main St. to the owners of the Riverview Restaurant at a cost of $4.65 per square foot, a 65-cent increase over the amount charged in recent years for similar purchases.
■ It also approved the Putnam County Wine and Food Festival, to be held at Mayor’s Park on Aug. 6 and 7.