County allots funds for new body cameras for deputies

Devlin

The Otsego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday, May 5, to approve the purchase of 37 new body cameras for the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office.

The board approved the use of $36,000 in local funds to purchase the cameras from Axon Enterprises, using a contract from the National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance.

The cameras are worn by patrol deputies and corrections officers in the jail, according to Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr., who said his department launched its body camera program six years ago.

The first generation of body cameras has become outdated, Devlin said, and the previous manufacturer had since been bought out by another.

All items were approved by consent agenda with the exception of a resolution calling for the consolidation of vital statistics registration districts in the town and village of Otego, which was incorrectly identified in the title as the town and village of Unadilla. The Otego Village Board of Trustees and the Otego Town Board both independently approved the consolidation, and New York’s Public Health Law requires final approval from the county for the merger to proceed.

Also pulled from the consent agenda but approved nonetheless was a resolution authorizing the redemption of land parcels taken in by the county through "in rem" tax foreclosure at a 15% premium.

An in rem foreclosure allows the creation of a foreclosure sale so that the lender can be paid.

Rep. Michele Farwell, D-Butternuts, Morris, Pittsfield, voted against the resolution, contending that the proposed 15% premium was too high and proposing a 10% rate instead.

Otsego County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, whose office handles the majority of in rem foreclosure work, explained that the county is charged 10% per posting by the auction company.

“All the work that we have to do to get the parcel back out of the auction … the 5% just kind of makes the county whole at that point,” he said. “10% is fine, but the county would lose money.”

Asked by Rep. Clark Oliver, D-Oneonta, if the 15% rate was comparable to that imposed by other counties, Ruffles said Herkimer County charges a premium of between 35 and 40%.

“I still worry that what we’re doing here is making the people who are least able to pay their taxes pay the largest share,” Farwell said.

The board unanimously approved the adoption of a local law mandating the source separation and segregation of recyclable and reusable materials within the county after no one spoke at a public hearing on the matter.

The text of law describes an “increasing threat” to the county’s environmental and economic wellbeing as the cost of solid waste disposal and recycling continues to increase, which is compounded by the county’s contracts with landfills and material recovery facilities outside its borders in the absence of its own.

The resolution outlined that keeping the recycling tipping fee lower than the garbage tipping fee has not helped improve the county’s recycling rate, and, accounting for the higher cost of recycling waste over the disposal of other waste, noted that increasing recycling fees without upping recycling enforcement would only exacerbate the amount of recyclable material that ends up in landfills.

“The Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Law addresses the solid waste disposal crisis by removing regulated recyclable materials from the solid waste stream, thereby reducing the required capacity of existing and proposed landfills; decreasing the flow of solid waste to landfills; increasing the life expectancy of existing and future landfills; allowing the County to adjust recycling disposal rates according to the actual cost without additional taxpayer subsidy; aiding in the conservation of valuable resources; preserving the health, safety and welfare of the public; and preserving the environmental quality of Otsego County,” according to the law.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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