Vote Yes For A County Charter
This fall, people in Ulster County will have the opportunity
to change our system of government. It’s something that
has needed to happen for a very long time, and we’re pleased
the impending change enjoys the broad bipartisan legislative
support it clearly deserves. The process has been moving in
this direction for almost two years, and on November 7th, we’ll
be voting to approve it. For people of every party and persuasion,
voting any way but YES makes no sense at all.
The changes ahead are straightforward and smart. Instead of
a legislature run by a chairman chosen from amongst its part-time
ranks, people will actually vote to elect someone as a County
Executive to actually run the county like a business. Instead
of an elected treasurer and an appointed administrator, we’ll
have an appointed Commissioner of Finance and an elected County
Comptroller to audit and oversee county business. We’ll
also be appointing a Reapportionment Commission to downsize
the legislature from 33 to 23 members each of whom, by themselves,
will represent a single geographically unified district. There
are a few smaller changes as well, all of them fine.
Each change, and all of them together, is intended to do one
thing: improve government’s accountability to us, the
people it serves. We commend both major parties and everyone
involved in the process for moving this forward. What it means
is better, more responsive, and genuinely accountable government
What it also means is that the chances will be vastly diminished
that we’ll ever again find ourselves enmeshed in a financial
fiasco like our current county jail project. That project, it
now appears, will end up costing each and every household in
the county an average of well over $2,000 real tax dollars.
That kind of personal tax burden on each of us — unfair,
unreasonable, and in our view largely unnecessary — is
a direct result of our old and old-boy system of limited accountability
to the taxpayers, along with the kind of poor fiscal management
that until very recently allowed us to spend upwards of $15
million every year more than we took in.
When our new county charter is adopted, we’ll be amongst
the last counties in the state to make the shifts it entails.
The system we’re leaving behind seems a holdover from
the days when both representing the public interest and running
the county’s day-to-day affairs could be handled well
enough as part-time jobs.
But those haven’t been part-time jobs for a very long
Vote yes on the Charter come November… we deserve it.