October 23, 2021

Legislators get committee assignments

Cortland County’s response to COVID remains the goal of many legislators this year, but with some new — and some continuing — committee assignments, legislators are looking to discuss a number of other actions they want the county to take.

“Certainly the overall outlook for 2021 is much like 2020 with the pandemic,” said Legislature Minority Leader Beau Harbin (D-Cortland). The pandemic delayed some goals that he’d like to see the county take up again this year.

That includes going through recommendations by Transpro, a company the county hired last April to help the county find ways to save money. He said it would be nice to put a five-year plan into place.

Harbin said another goal he’d like to talk about again as the chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee is finding ways to fund repairs to the Cortland County Courthouse. He also wants to optimize the space the county has and move departments to county-owned spaces.

Harbin hopes to focus on broadband and renewable energy in the Agriculture, Planning and Environment Committee and improve the county’s finances in the Finance and Administration Committee.

Legislator Susan Wilson (D-Cortland) said she is looking forward to her new committee assignments, the Government Operations Committee and Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

“I’m willing to go where I’m needed,” she said.

She will return to the Building and Grounds Committee and Health and Human Services Committee. She said the focus will also be on getting through the pandemic.

“I think the biggest issue is going to be getting vaccinations done in a timely manner,” she said.

She’s also interested in seeing what’s happening in the Sheriff’s Department because she sits on a committee to review policy and make reforms under the governor’s executive order.

Legislator Linda Jones (R-Homer) will remain on the committees she was on last year — Government Operations, formerly the Personnel Committee, and the Highway Committee.

“I was very happy with all the changes that I wasn’t removed from Highway,” she said.

A lover of Dwyer Park, Jones said she will keep legislators updated on work at the park.

However, not everybody was satisfied at the assignments.

Legislator Joe Nauseef (RCortlandville) had requested to stay on the Highway Committee and Judiciary and Public Justice Committee but was moved to the Health and Human Services Committee and Agriculture, Planning and Environment Committee. He remains on the Building and Grounds Committee.

He said he thinks he was removed from those committees because he spoke out a lot.

“It was done just to get me out of those committees,” he said. “I can’t help but feel that way, I did make a lot of noise in those meetings.”

“As stated in my email to legislators , over 75% of legislators have at least one change of committee,” said Chairman Paul Heider (R-Cuyler, Solon, Truxton) Monday in an email. “There was no biased used for changes of assignment.”

Heider announced in a news release Wednesday he had changed legislators around on committees.

“One of the benefits fouryear terms provides is the opportunity for legislators to gain more in-depth knowledge about the current status of various operations within the county,” he stated in the release. “That understanding can help all of us make the most educated and objective decisions about various policies and other matters for the county and its citizens.”

Nauseef said he’s looking forward to being able to ask questions and bring more information, especially on the pandemic, to his constituents from the Health and Human Services Committee.

“I’m going to be pushing to get all of that out,” he said.