County passes resolutions, honors Hollis

BELMONT — The Allegany County legislature adopted a measure to provide Cold War veterans with property tax relief and sent Board of Elections Commissioner Rich Hollis into retirement in style at Monday’s meeting.

The legislature passed the resolution concerning a limited tax exemption for Cold War veterans by an 11-1 margin, with three absent. The limited property tax exemption came up for renewal this year. Others exemptions are in place for veterans of conflicts like the Gulf War. 

Legislator Brooke Harris (R-Alfred) cast the lone dissenting vote for Monday's resolution. 

“I’m thankful for the service of our Cold War veterans and I’m happy they’re receiving recognition for that service,” Harris explained. “Unfortunately I’m generally opposed to piecemeal, selective tax cuts. I’m in favor of county-wide tax relief for all of our residents. I’m also opposed to the overcomplication of tax codes, from the IRS to local municipalities.

“As of today, there are 70 separate property tax exemptions in Allegany County. I think that’s excessive and unnecessary. I hope the veterans will forgive my slight. Deep down I’m thankful they’re getting this tax relief, but for the reasons I’ve stated, I’m a no.”

The rest of the resolutions passed unanimously. The board voted to

— correct an error in the Town of Wellsville tax rolls concerning the Sinclair Water District, with a chargeback of $20,573.09.

— appoint Janice Burdick of Alfred Station to the Citizens Advisory Council to the Office for the Aging, and reappoint Kenneth David Porter of Wellsville through Dec. 31, 2020.

—re-appropriate unspent funds from the 2017 NYS Division of Criminal Justice Service Narcotics Grant.

— accept and appropriate grant funds received from the Rural Community of Practice Initiative Grant for the Allegany County Department of Probation.

— accept and appropriate unallocated funds for the WIC program for the 2018 budget year.

— approve the 2018-19 Allegany County Heroin and Opioid Abuse Ad Hoc Committee Strategic Plan. More on that plan will appear in The Daily Reporter later this week.

Before the meeting, the legislature recognized Board of Elections Commissioner Rich Hollis for his service. Hollis, who has filled that role for the last 5.5 years, is in his final week on the job.

Legislature Chairman Curt Crandall (R-Belfast) noted how practices under the care of the Board of Elections have been modernized under the guidance of Hollis.

Crandall said in the past, electric voting machines would get a cover thrown over them and be left in storage at town halls until they were needed again.

“Those were simpler times,” Crandall said. “Now it’s not so simple.”

Hollis also explained how the elections system continues to evolve in his remarks to the board.

“It’s been interesting, it’s been fun,” Hollis said. “Many things have changed and many things are still in flux and are going to be changing more in the future. Just today I found out that the Democratic Election Commissioners of the Election Commissioners Association have endorsed the governor’s plan for early voting. That just came out today. Early voting is going to happen. What form it’s going to take, I don’t know. It’s going to be expensive. It’s coming your way. Get ready, be prepared for it.”

Hollis went on to say it was simply time to call it a career.

“I turn 65 next Sunday,” he said. “I’ve been working for 50 years, so it’s time to retire. Thank you very much.”