B y Derek Liebig
Washington County will not permit the state use of its seal on documents related to the enforcement of the New York SAFE Act.
The board of supervisors unanimously approved a resolution Friday that denies the state from using the county’s name, seal, letterhead or address on any correspondence related to the SAFE Act.
“The bottom line is the state did this, and they should own it. We had nothing to do with this,” Hebron Supervisor Brian Campbell said.
“We’re just saying we’re not involved and don’t make us look involved.”
The state had indicated an interest in using the seals and names of the county clerks and sheriffs’ departments on the pistol permit recertification notices.
Under the SAFE Act, all licensed pistol owners will need to recertify their firearm every five years and beginning in March the state is expected send notices to current licensees letting them know of the mandate.
Several members of the board described the state’s attempt to use the county’s seal as “manipulation.”
“They think people will feel better if it looks like it comes from the county,” Argyle Supervisor Bob Henke said.
The SAFE Act has received a groundswell of opposition since it was approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last January.
Washington County passed a resolution last February stating its opposition to the SAFE Act and nearly every upstate county, with the exception of Tompkins and Albany counties, has passed a resolution formally announcing its opposition to the Safe Act.
Nearly three dozen counties have passed resolutions denying the state the right to use their county seal, logo, or name from being used in conjunction with the law. Warren County supervisors unanimously approved a similar resolution last Friday.
In a letter last month, Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy said “the state hopes to encourage participation by those who may be hesitant to recertify.”
“I strongly oppose the use of our sheriff’s logo and or county seal on these letters or on the website. I feel that using these local identifiers gives the mistaken impression that our county authorities have some active role in this recertification process, when that is not the case,” Murphy wrote.
“I also believe that the use of our sheriff’s logo and/or county seal on these letters or on the website will give the mistaken perception that we support the Safe Act, which in fact we do not.”
The New York state police are expected to oversee the recertification process.
County officials said if their seal was used, employees with the county’s sheriff’s department would have to field more questions and expend resources regarding a law the county has no control over.
“Don’t they have their own seal? Is ours better?,” Jackson Supervisor Alan Brown said. “The seal should be used for the business we deem it to be used for. It doesn’t matter what the issue is.”
Greenwich Supervisor Sara Idelman said she has seen three resolutions regarding the SAFE Act come across her desk in the past year and questioned whether it was the place of counties and other local municipalities to pass resolutions related to the act when it’s being reviewed at the judicial level.
“I’m concerned with the number of resolutions regarding the SAFE Act,” Idelman said. Are we going to pick it apart as a legislative body or are we going to let it work its way through the courts?”
In other matters:
• The county approved requests from eight landowners to have their properties included in certified agricultural districts. Locally, those landowners were Daryl Dodge, Duane Dodge, Dale Dodge and Pasquale Imbimbo, all of Granville and Robert VanNoordt of Hampton.
• The board authorized a three-year agreement with Hyper-Reach telephone notification systems. The system allows local municipalities the ability to notify residents of public safety issues via a mass telephone message. Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks said the town had used the system on a handful occasions and it “worked very well.”
The agreement will cost $40,000 and will be paid using grant money provided by the Department of Homeland Security.
• The board reappointed Patricia Hunt, head of the Department of Health and a Granville resident, to the Community Services Board. The appointment is for three years.
• Milt Dunbar of the Middle Granville Fire Department, Scott McCullen of the North Granville Fire Department and Robert Holmes of the Hartford Fire Department were appointed to two-year terms on the county’s fire advisory board.
• The county approved the transfer of $1,110 from the Office for the Aging’s contractual expenses to its equipment fund to replace a refrigerator at the Whitehall Senior Meal Site. The current refrigerator did not pass a NYS Department of Health inspection.
• Authorized the sheriff’s department to transfer a surplus vehicle to the Village of Whitehall.
• Agreed to rehire two employees, who were displaced as a result of Pleasant Valley’s sale, at the same step. Currently, employees who leave the county’s employ and are then rehired are hired at base.
“It wasn’t them that left us, it was us who left them,” Hebron Supervisor Brian Campbell said.
The county will consider other workers who have been displaced and then rehired on a case-by-case basis.
• The board agreed to implement a mileage reimbursement program for individuals appointed by the supervisors to serve on committees, organizations and/or boards. The program excludes county workers.
Individuals will receive $.45 per mile.