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County supervisors discuss rising utility rates, tourism, public health

Essex County Government Center, Elizabethtown

Essex County Government Center, Elizabethtown Photo by Andy Flynn.

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Essex County Board of Supervisors had a full slate at the first round of monthly committee meetings at the board of supervisors chambers on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

RISING UTILITY COSTS

Skyrocketing utility costs from National Grid elicited strong responses from several lawmakers:

“There has to be some control,” said Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (D-Moriah) on the rising utility costs resulting from this month’s polar vortex and cold snap.

“If we ever did that with taxes, we wouldn’t be around for very long.”

Scozzafava said that the rates, some of which have reportedly risen 50 percent from last month, were “devastating” for the elderly and those on fixed incomes.

“And there’s no explanation on the bill, nothing.”

He called for the State Public Service Commission to investigate and expressed a desire to cooperate with State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblyman Dan Stec’s (R-Queensbury) office.

Supervisor Dan Connell (D-Westport) said that he was “besieged” with complaints from constituents as he was leaving a town hall meeting on Monday night:

“I couldn’t get out the door,” he said.

Connell said residents told him that after extensively examining their bills, they found a rise in the cost per kilowatt hour was the reason for “most” of the increase — not their overall usage.

“We’re going to go at this from a number of different directions,” he said.

PUBLIC HEALTH

County health department official Jessica Darney-Buehler delivered a presentation on the agency’s pending plans to whip county residents into shape:

“We want to make sure that we’re using our limited resources to the best of our abilities,” she said.

An assessment plan determined that the leading priorities are to reduce obesity in children and adults and increase access to chronic disease preventive care and management.

The county has identified different approaches on how to handle each issue, she said. To combat obesity, officials hope to examine how community environments are designed and how they contribute to the sustained epidemic.

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