County opts out of national opioid lawsuit


 COOPERSTOWN — Otsego County has opted out of a national class-action lawsuit on opioid litigation, preferring instead a New York-coordinated effort.

The county’s Board of Representatives voted unanimously on a late resolution Wednesday, Nov. 4, at its monthly meeting, to allow Board Chair Dave Bliss, R-Cherry Valley, Middlefield, Roseboom, “to opt out of the Negotiation Class as is advised by our legal counsel in the matter.”

New York counties are waiting on a consolidated lawsuit filed in Suffolk County against opioid makers. They opted out of the national case on advisement from their lawyers, County Attorney Ellen Coccoma said.

“We are not part of the class action. We have our own class,” she said.

Coccoma apologized for bringing it to the representatives late, but the opt-out had a Nov. 22, deadline, she said.

Rep. Keith McCarty, R-Richfield, Springfield, was not at the meeting.

The board also unanimously approved a three-year contract extension with Destination Marketing Corp. of Otsego County as part of a consent agenda. Funded by a 4% bed tax, the public-private spin-off of the county’s marketing department had its contract renewed through 2022.

DMCOC recently expanded into Schoharie County, and its renewal in Otsego passed without comment from the representatives last week. That was a contrast to the 2016 renewal, when several members questioned if the group was doing enough to promote non-Cooperstown locations.

“To me it is a no-brainer,” Bliss said in a follow up interview with The Daily Star. “The only caveat this time is we limited it to their current 4%. So if we do raise the bed tax for the road funds, with the increase, they don’t see a chunk of that.”

Bliss said he was happy with election night results, which saw the status quo stay in effect, and will likely return him to the position of board chair for a third term in January. The board will continue to be split with seven members each from the Democratic and Republican caucuses. However, the GOP holds sway under the county’s weighted votes, 3,421-2,807.

Bliss stressed he thought the county had mostly been united in its decisions in his two years as board chair. “I think our board has been extremely bipartisan, at least these last two years, and I don’t see why that would change now,” he said.

Bliss, a Republican, ran unopposed in District Seven, which is made up of Cherry Valley, Middlefield and Roseboom.

In other business at last week’s meeting:

• The board unanimously passed a motion to give the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank possession of a foreclosed property at 18 Cherry St. in Oneonta. The board also sold a property at 16 Clifton St. in Unadilla to a bidder, Ivica Brkjaca of Rosyln Heights, for $100,000. Rep. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, thanked the board for getting the property back on the tax rolls.

• The board also approved, as part of its consent agenda, the hiring of Judy Pangman as director of the land bank for a two-year term. The land bank takes blighted or otherwise troubled properties and rehabilitates them.

• The board went into executive session for nearly an hour during a Public Works Committee report. Bliss said it was for a contract matter.

Greg Klein can be reached at or 607-441-7218.

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