Archer vs. Bernardo Debate – Round 2
This evening, at the second Ulster County Legislative District 21 debate, I listened – appalled and in disbelief – to Terry Bernardo’s response when questioned about “The Great Ulster County Sales Tax Extension/Safety Net Takeover Debacle.”
Challenger Lynn Archer first answered the question sensibly, calling for greater cooperation and communication between all parties in solving the problem that could have been prevented in the first place. Then Bernardo took the question and proceeded to blame for the crisis both protagonists involved: County Executive Hein (D) and Assemblyman Cahill (D). Not once in her diatribe did she mention what she did or could have done as Chairwoman of the Ulster County Legislature to avert the crisis and loss of revenue for the county, towns, and the City of Kingston. It seemed that Chairwoman Bernardo was far more concerned with playing the blame game than she was with showing true leadership by working across party lines to solve this problem.
Bernardo then moved on to the subject of Safety Net Welfare, and expressed her concerns about the growing costs of Safety Net Welfare in Ulster County. I was totally floored when she pondered aloud that perhaps the costs would be lower with the county managing Safety Net instead of the towns. I don’t know what planet Terry Bernardo has been on while serving as our Legislator for the last four years and as Chair of the Legislature for the last two. Safety Net Welfare has been administrated by Ulster County Social Services with local costs charged to the towns and the City of Kingston since its inception under the Welfare Reform Act under the Clinton Administration. The towns have absolutely no control over the charges passed on by the county for Safety Net. We are the only county in New York State where this is done. The other 61 counties pay for the local share of Safety Net charges that they administer. I find it to be terribly wrong to having towns pay for charges that they have absolutely no administrative control over. I feel that the only way Safety Net Welfare costs will be reined in is when the county starts paying the bill for what it manages instead of the towns.
I have fought tirelessly for reform in this area as Supervisor of the Town of Rochester and as President of the Ulster County Association of Town Supervisors and Village Mayors. Our costs for Safety Net have skyrocketed during the last several years especially when New York State changed the funding formula from 50/50 to 71/29 local vs. state percentage cost split. This has led to a phased-in county takeover of Safety Net costs which began with the 2013 Ulster County Budget – proposed by County Executive Mike Hein – which Terry Bernardo voted against last year without regard to the financial burden Safety Net places on the towns she represents. I have repeatedly voiced my concerns about Safety Net impacting our town to Terry Bernardo. It seems, by her previous actions and by what she stated this evening, that my concerns have fallen on deaf ears. It’s time for a change!
Vote for Lynn Archer on November 5.
Supervisor – Town of Rochester