Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Steuben lawmakers endorse reform in public defense system

BATH – Steuben County legislators strongly endorsed Monday an initiative to reform the state public defense system.
The bipartisan plan, recently introduced in Albany, could save Steuben taxpayers $1 million in costs associated with defending low-income residents.
The proposed law would reform the current state-mandated public defense system which now forces Steuben, and other counties, to pay approximately 80 percent of the cost of defending low-income residents.
The state measure is in response to the settlement of a lawsuit filed against the state and five counties, charging public defense was substandard. As a part of the settlement, the state has paid to improve public defense in those five counties but has not assisted other counties.
In other action, Steuben legislators welcomed sixteen Youth In Government interns, representing the Avoca, Campbell-Savona, Canisteo-Greenwood, Hammondsport and Haverling high schools. The students also will meet with department heads during the next few weeks to learn more about county government before participating in a simulated legislative session.
Legislators also endorsed the nomination of three county residents for induction into Steuben’s Hall of Fame. Wallace Newcomb, Winnie Romeril and the late John Stocum will be honored at an induction ceremony April 16.
Other action by the county board included:
* Authorizing the Commissioner of Public Works to lower the overnight cabin fee at Kanakadea Park.
* Accepting the 2015-2016 New York State Public Safety Answering Operations Grant, amounting to $185,710.
* Accepting Vital Access Provider (VAP) funding from the New York State Office of Mental Health, amounting to $260,000.