Thursday, 20 January 2022 13:28

Saratoga County Notes

By Thomas Dimopoulos | News

BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors held its monthly meeting Jan. 18 in Ballston Spa.

The county re-authorized Contact Tracing services agreements with three people whose previous contracts were expiring.   

“There continues to be cases of COVID-19 in Saratoga County, and it is imperative to maintain the services of quality contractors to perform essential contact tracing services,” according to the board resolution. 

The County Administrator is authorized to execute up to 75 minor contracts with individuals identified by Public Health Services as contact tracers on an as-needed basis, at a compensation rate of $25 per hour. It was not immediately known how many of those up-to-75 contracts are currently in effect. 

The previously defined parameters regarding contact tracing is changing with the omicron variant surge, with a shift to what state health officials hope is a more effective use of resources. 

“We’ve been talking with local and county health departments about how we need to leave more flexibility for what happens when someone tests positive, or has been exposed to someone who tested positive, and we’re moving to more self-management when a person has either tested positive or been exposed to someone who tested positive, and less active outreach by departments,” said N.Y. State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, in a presser with Gov. Kathy Hochul on Jan. 11. “The big change for New Yorkers is that if you test positive, you should no longer expect a call from your health department. You should instead follow the isolation and quarantine guidance.” 

Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Theodore Kusnierz, Jr. said Jan. 18 that the county is shifting its resources as well, such as staffing its booster and vaccine clinics in Ballston Spa. 

“Resources we were spending on contact tracing, we can use with employees for vaccinations,” Kusnierz said. 

Scheduled times and dates for the county operated vaccine and booster clinics mat be found at: www.saratogacountyny.gov/covid/covid-19-vaccines-and-boosters.

Following an Executive Session that lasted more than one hour, the board reconvened, added a new agenda item, and unanimously approved a settlement with pharmaceutical manufacturer Allergan, in which Allergen has offered to settle the claims of the Saratoga County by paying just over $335,000 in a one-time direct payment to be used for restitution. The board’s approval authorizes a settlement with Allergen, named in an action to recover damages in combatting and treating opioid abuse. 

The Board approved a financial increase in the previously existing contract agreement with Saratoga Hospital for the use of the hospital’s laboratory and morgue facilities, due to increasing numbers of cases handled by the County Coroners at Saratoga Hospital in 2021. 

The earlier agreement was a three-year contract from 2020-2022, inclusively, with a maximum annual cost of $40,000. The amended agreement increases the contract limit from $40,000 to $65,000 for the years 2021 and 2022. 

The increase in cases had to do with an increasing number of bodies kept in the morgue resulting from a lengthier search for existing next-of-kin, and not the result of one specific issue such as COVID, said   county coroner Susan Hayes-Masa.

Public Hearings regarding Saratoga County Airport, Potential Additional Supervisors Slated for Feb. 9

The Board set a Public Hearing to take place Feb. 9 regarding the proposed development of a new aircraft hangar at Saratoga County Airport. 

North American Flight Services (NASF), which has been the Fixed Base Operator at the county airport for 22 years, proposed that it would privately fund the design and construction of the 22,500 square foot hangar – estimated at $6 million to $7 million - and would pay taxes and retain ownership of it following its construction. 

NASF currently holds two leases at the airport with a term through April 2028 on which it currently pays approximately $7,000 per month. With the potential addition of a new hangar, the company is requesting the term of the lease be modified to extend to 2061, with a sliding incremental increase in monthly payments that would conclude at just over $9,600 per month in the final five years of the proposed lease extension, from 2056-2061.

A Public Hearing on the proposed modification and extensions of the terms of the leases was initially slated to take place in December, but was postponed. The hearing will now be held at 4:40 p.m. Feb. 9 in the Meeting Room of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors at 40 McMaster St., Ballston Spa. 

A Public Hearing at 4:35 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Chambers of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors to introducing a proposed Local Law that seeks to increase the population threshold at which an additional county supervisor would be added. 

The standing law, first applied in 1968, provides that each town or city in Saratoga County will elect an additional County Supervisor for every 25,000 residents. 

As a result of the 2020 census, growth of population in the town of Halfmoon appears to show the number of residents at about 25,600, or just above that 25,000 threshold. The options would be to either add a second supervisor, or adopt a local law to increase the threshold, which would keep the number of members on the Board of Supervisors status quo. 

The proposed Local Law up for public discussion seeks to amend the population threshold to 27,500 as the new figure that would trigger the addition of a second supervisor. 

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