Monday, November 22, 2021

Murell Responds

On Friday, Gossips published a press release from the Columbia County Democratic Committee, which reported on a resolution to "defund the Columbia County Sheriff's Office" and characterized the move as "a case of sour grapes" in response to Don Krapf's victory over David Bartlett in the recent election. Today, Gossips obtained this memo from Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, responding to those allegations.
This memo is in response to inaccurate information that was released by the Columbia County Democratic Chairman on Friday, where he said the Republicans were defunding the Sheriff’s Department to the tune of $250,000. This is not true. It is a proposed transfer of specific Emergency Management funds and not a reduction of funds.
This transfer does not affect people’s safety whatsoever and does not affect the Sheriff’s Office at all. The budget lines that will transfer with the Emergency Management Office are already designated specifically to Emergency Management in the Sheriff’s budget, and will not change. They will continue to be used for the exact same reasons. There is no defunding of anything as the funds will continue to be used as already designated.
The operating budget designated specifically for Emergency Management is between $139,000-$140,000. In the proposed transfer, $65,000 will stay with the Sheriff’s budget as it pays for software maintenance agreements utilized by various programs in the jail, civil and law enforcement areas.
The remaining $70,000+ would transfer with Emergency Management. Any grant budget lines are applied for and used strictly for what they are awarded for--this cannot and does not change.
All county level emergency coordinators (who are not part of Emergency Management) such as the Fire Coordinator, EMS Coordinator and 911 Director were contacted about their opinion and ALL approve the move as it will make EMO more efficient.

EMO in Columbia County does not oversee emergency services as it does in some other cities and counties in NYS.
Whomever makes a comment that this will negatively affect public safety did not view the last open Public Safety meeting and does not understand the purpose and structure of our county EMO.
This move is something that has been discussed in the past with the outgoing Sheriff and would have happened whether or not Sheriff Bartlett had won the election.

Very few counties have the EMO as part of the Sheriff’s Office.
Everyone agrees, having EMO as an independent county department makes sense and is good management. Reporting to only the County Chairman during large countywide events (like the pandemic) instead of two people is much more efficient. Article 2B of the NYS Executive Law is clear: the Chairman of the BOS (or County Exec) has the ultimate responsibility for countywide State of Emergencies. This is why NYS requires the Chairman of the BOS to complete emergency management training AND refresh every year.

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