Madison County to hire legislative consultant

Members of the Madison County Government Operations Committee voted last week to hire a legislative consultant. The committee will move a resolution on to the full Board of Supervisors at its August meeting. The committee will ask for a committee of the whole meeting before the Aug. 12 session.

"[Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman] John [M. Becker] has been talking about reaching out and hiring a legislative consultant to help the county with certain initiatives," said Vice Chairman Richard O. Bargabos (R -- Smithfield), who chairs the committee. "He has asked that Government Operations consider contracting with Park Strategies."

"Discussion about retaining their services probably is appropriate for discussion in other committees, as well," said Acting County Administrator Paul Miller. "There are lots of people who could use the service. We're victims of what happens in Albany -- legislation, rule-making -- has impact on us. How many mandates do we have to contend with?"

Miller said the county has some real budget needs that require the county to advocate for itself to cut its losses on the initiatives state government imposes.

"We need to take advantage of any increased funding opportunities that exist," Miller said. "We expect and hope to be able to obtain state and federal funding to defray local expenses for radio communication project, for example."

Miller said like the property tax lost because of the controversy with Indian lands, the county also loses a great deal of sales tax.

"We think it's up to state to make us whole on collecting those taxes," Miller said. "Park Strategies will represent us and provide services from Washington and Albany."

While the fee at first glance may appear steep, Miller said, there are no additional fees.

"The fee you see here will cover the four months of the remaining budget year," Miller said. "It may seem like a pretty steep price, but that's all there is, and we won't have to cover any other expenses out of this. All travel and other expenses are covered by this fee. [County attorney] John Campanie is working on the agreement now."

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