Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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February 3rd, 2012

Setting an Example for Appointed Boards

The Forestburg Town Board took a courageous step last week and disbanded their Planning Board. A new planning board will eventually be appointed and put into place, but until then the Town Board will be doing the job.

While the old planning board was comprised of honorable and respectable people, they were often confronted with making some tough decisions that were at times contrary to or delayed the process and wishes of the town board and residents.

Planning board members go through extensive research and training of the law and are a vital part in any government. Nonetheless, the new town board wanted to sort and wash things out.

A problem facing municipalities is that planning boards, with its members having various expiration dates to their terms, are at times not on the same page as elected officials, and can delay, stop, or make it very difficult for a noteworthy project being pushed by a town board from being approved.

While what the Forestburg Town Board did may be extreme, in actuality it should be the responsibility of the elected leadership of a municipality to discuss their intent and objectives with their appointees ensuring that they will all work together achieving the same goals.

Supervisor Bill Sipos told me his board was “giving the town back to the people. We are opening up government. We need to tidy up town, county, and state government to make it free flowing and work again.”

Our County and Townships need sound planning, land use and zoning practices. Orderly growth and development must always be balanced with the protection of natural resources. Major problems arise when planning boards do not act on the wishes of those elected to run municipalities.

In fact, it is vital and an obligation that our elected officials do their due diligence and speak with and interview all appointed board members about their intentions to serve, and in some cases be asked to resubmit their desire to stay on these boards or resign even if their terms might not have expired.

On the County level, our legislature appoints people to various boards. The most talked about and controversial being the Industrial Developmental Agency (IDA), formed to “promote economic welfare, recreation opportunities, prevent unemployment and economic deterioration, ensure the prosperity of Sullivan County’s inhabitants, and promote tourism and trade.”

While the IDA board is appointed by the Sullivan County Legislature, and is completely voluntary like a planning board, there were no set terms for its members until recently.

The legislature must take the example set by the Forestburg Town Board and consider some immediate actions regarding the IDA.
Although the IDA is comprised of reputable and honorable people, some have been serving on it for over 15 years, some are now elected officials, and some have retired from the business world. Waiting for terms to expire will be too long especially for a legislature that says it wants to make a lot of change.

The IDA created a questionable mirrored funding corporation, and all board members should be called in to fully explain it to them. They also need to tell legislators their intentions, goals, and why they want to remain on this significant and influential board.

Great work Forestburg Town Board, now let’s hope others will follow in your footsteps.

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