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September 23, 2017
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General News: Skoufis On Your Street 2017

Skoufis On Your Street 2017
Skoufis On Your Street 2017
Skoufis On Your Street 2017 2
August 20, 2017

Skoufis On Your Street 2017
By Hannah Comitz
08/16/17

Some Background

Assemblyman James Skoufis paid a visit to Cornwall on Friday, August 11th. Skoufis represents 10 towns in the area including Cornwall. He grew up and currently lives in Woodbury. Skoufis is proud of his on average 60 hour work week. He believes he does his job effectively and has taken his job seriously. He prides himself in being honest even if he's not agreed with. Skoufis wants the public to never question his motivations or where he stands on issues. He admitted that he wants to be able to sleep at night knowing he did things right, and that is the only way he can live with himself. One of his favorite sayings is to "let the political chips fall where they may", which is said to sum up his political career nicely. He was asked about his recent honeymoon and said it was "really good to relax", but now Skoufis agrees that it is time to get back to work.
He came back to hundreds of unread emails and he's beginning to reply to them. This was Skoufis's 4th time doing talks in Cornwall and he was excited to do this informal talk and he was eager to discuss issues with everyone.

The Issues

The crowd that was at 2 Alice's gave the assemblyman challenging yet respectable questions. Here are some of the questions and answers from that evening.

The Possible Upcoming Constitutional Convention:
This convention will completely open up the state constitution, so many things could be changed. These changes could be harmful. If passed in November, delegates will run to decide what to change add and take out of the constitution. Skoufis said it is a big risk to open up the constitution like that.

One Continuous Train Line:
Assemblyman Skoufis said that many people of this area want to have one continuous train line into the city in order to have more convenience. The Governor stopped work for this project at the last minute. This could have limited the distance of commute and stopped the rushing to connecting trains as well as reduce travel time.

Property Tax:
Assemblyman Skoufis agrees with the discussion of possibly moving to an income tax and job based system to fund school. If he had it his way he wants "everything to be pulled in to the state income tax" and have no property tax. He believes that people should not be "penalized for saving money and buying a nice home." The income tax in New York City helps fund schools and the property tax is lower, so proposing a similar system would not be outrageous. Skoufis wants Orange County to request legislation to establish income tax.

Healthcare:
Recently a single payer healthcare bill has been passed, although it is not necessarily supported by everyone. Skoufis says that insurance companies are middlemen that people go through to get treatment. Commercials for insurance companies are paid for by the costumer's premiums. Skoufis mentioned wanting to possibly cut out the middleman. Skoufis wants to make sure that the millions of people still get healthcare. He realizes that this is a heavily "federally driven issue" and wants to help others.

Kiryas Joel:
NYMA is no longer for sale and on its way to being a better school. The hospital and Skoufis are going to come up with new plans for the hospital campus,that will be good changes. The campus is not for sale.
The town won an injunction in court and it surprised KJ, which directs KJ not to withdrawal water until the final decision is made. Perhaps in the next couple of months the decision will be made. Skoufis said he is preparing legislation for if KJ is successful. The legislation will make sure that KJ is held responsible for effects on neighboring communities because current permit is self policing. This will provide monitoring of KJ.
KJ has made "attempts to annex land from Monroe." Efforts to stop it got passed in the assembly and Senate. Skoufis said he was able to overcome lobbyists that KJ hired to kill the bill, but governor vetoed many bills. None of the vetoes have been overridden, so it may be considered a poor checks and balance system because it is important to override vetoes when the governor is wrong.
220 acres is said to be moved from Monroe to KJ, so it can become its own town called Palm Tree. Monroe is in support of this land because it will get KJ out of their town elections.
An additional 56 acres will have a new shared boundary with Blooming Grove. Blooming Grove will only protected for 10 years so will be a future concern. Monroe is almost settling lawsuits amongst many municipalities "against their will." It was asked if Monroe will refund the money from the lawsuits of other municipalities. Skoufis mentioned that of course there will be no refunds. He said that this deal only benefits Monroe. Annexation is initiated by local residential property owners. It is initiated by citizens, but KJ orchestrated annexation to change zoning. In reality it is not that simple for KJ. Once annexation is petitioned it goes to vote in the Local Board and they have authority to vote no. At the time KJ had many members on the board so they were able to pass annexation. Skoufis said to make sure to elect the correct people.

One of the people at the meeting asked Skoufis "How do you want KJ situation to play out?" Skoufis responded," that is a difficult question because there is no perfect answer." Skoufis wants KJ to discuss and talk with other municipalities and not demand. Skoufis was "hoping to get together to meet with KJ and not just do it and say sue us to try to stop us."

Paving Roads:
A large road of concern is the section from the bridge to five corners. There are many pot holes all along that road. Skoufis said it's a "more complicated project than what meets the eye." The road will be about a million dollar project because of the drainage issues. Luckily, this section of road is in the top five projects to consider in the DOT region. The drainage issues will be addressed and then the roads will be fixed by around next summer. The DOT will be addressing four of the cornwall and New Windsor bridges, which will be replaced and/or refurbished.

A letter to the Assemblyman:

Carol Loggia, a long time resident of COH, sent a letter to Skoufis with the interest of safety. She wanted to figure out how to increase safety at the COH intersection. Loggia said it is "very dangerous", and she doesn't want to wait till someone gets killed for it to be fixed. Carol Loggia proposed a fix by maybe installing a stop sign. Skoufis said he will track down the study and see what he can do.

Special Thanks:
Overall the talk was very laid back and filled with laughter as well as serious and necessary discussion.
Thank you to Assemblyman James Skoufis for taking the time to visit Cornwall!

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