Legislature looks at local law redrawing district lines
Michael T. Baldwin reports
Steuben County legislators face a far-reaching agenda when they meet at 10 am Monday in their chambers in the county Annex, with action on two items following public hearings on proposed local laws.
The first public hearing is slated for a proposed law to bring the county’s Buildings and Grounds Department under the oversight of the county Public Works Department, with an assistant commissioner to be appointed for building and grounds operations.
The move, initially approved by the full board in May, keeps the Buildings and Grounds Department as a separate, accountable department while reducing expenses. The plan also allows for a smooth and more efficient transition of effort between the departments, since new county Public Works Commissioner Eric Rose headed building and grounds operations from 2014-2021.
The second public hearing looks at the proposed redistricting of county legislative district lines.
Under recent New York State redistricting laws and driven by shifts in population centers during the past 10 years, county legislators recently gave their initial endorsement in May to the first notable change in district lines in nearly 40 years.
The changes address state laws regarding governmental districts, a declining population in the City of Hornell and notable rise of residents in the Town of Erwin, sustaining the representation of communities with similar needs and equal representation in the county Legislature for all residents during the next 10 years.
Legislators have considered dozens of options since the beginning of the year, designed to represent urban and rural needs and bring voters in all districts into equal standing. The option endorsed by the county Legislature in May maintains representation with 17 legislators and reduces the number of districts from 13 to 11.
The changes are subject to a vote by county residents in November.
The county board also will memorialize the passing June 5 of former county Legislator Fran Gehl, D-Corning City, who served his constituents and county residents for 16 years. During those terms, he was a vocal advocate for the county’s new 911 Center and a dedicated supporter of the Finger Lakes SPCA.
A Corning native, Corning Inc. machinist for 35 years, President of Local 1000 American Flint Glass Workers’ Union and Korean War veteran, Gehl served at Veterans Service Liaison for former U.S. Rep. Amory Houghton, Jr. R-Corning, for seven years.
Other agenda items include:
* Recognizing Steuben County as the lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review for proposed reconstruction of the Mt. Washington, Curtis and Prattsburgh county highway shops, and for the proposed county parking lot. The county Legislature is expected to issue negative declarations for all four projects.
* Remembering the Flood of ’72, during which Hurricane Agnes deposited six inches of rain in a 24-hour period on June 21. The torrential rain resulted in one of the most destructive natural disasters in Steuben’s history.