Allegany County government: An Overview

Submitted by MConklin on Mon, 05/19/2014 - 15:51

I was delighted for the opportunity to participate in Leadership Allegany. I love people and am always ready for a challenge. I welcome the opportunity to learn better ways to communicate and work with others as it pertains to my job and community involvement. Each of us knows what we think are our strengths and weaknesses, but I was amazed after taking the "StrengthsFinder" to see it all broken out and how one thing affects another. Having representation from all four domains of leadership strengths serving each team will be most beneficial in the making of a strong leadership unit. There was a comfort in knowing that we will build upon our strengths instead of dwelling on weaknesses. I too had anxiety, but different. All my life I have been very independent, and now I find myself with a mobility issue and have to depend on others. This experience is awkward, uncomfortable and humbling for me. When entering into new situations I must always think, plan ahead and yes stress about stairs, uneven surfaces, distances etc. I am very determined and will not let this deter my enjoyment and success along this adventure. The Leadership Allegany Class of 2014-2015 met at the Allegany Court House for our first in a series of Industry Days. We were warmly welcomed by Chairperson Phyllis Gaerte to the Legislative Chambers which was brightly lit in much needed and appreciated sunshine. Anxious for the morning to unfold I chose the seat of Legislator Norm G. Ungermann, Jr. who represents District II where I live. I settled in and began to look over all of our handouts excited for our first speaker. Curt Crandall of Allegany County District 1 and Chairman of the Allegany County Board of Legislators welcomed us to the Legislative Chambers and conducted our session as he would the opening of a legislative session including reciting “The Pledge of Allegiance.” It struck me that how very seldom that is done anymore and what a shame that is. Curt gave an interesting overview of Allegany County Government and a little bit of history. Oddly enough the chairman is considered a part-time position, yet I sense that he lives and breathes Allegany County. I am a director of the Cuba Chamber of Commerce and know how much time I dedicate to the community and can only imagine his agenda. He works very closely with the Allegany County Administrator - Mitchell Alger. Mr. Alger is a full-time Allegany County Employee and a graduate of the Leadership Allegany program. He credits Leadership Allegany with his Networking Abilities. Facts that I found extremely interesting were that Allegany County employs 515 full and part-time employees and of a 2014 $11,862,284 budget $20 million is in payroll. Thirty-five cents of every dollar is spent on welfare and NYS is considered "The Cadillac of Programs." I especially enjoyed our next speaker – Dr. Ron Oakerson, Political Science Professor, Houghton College. His topic was Political Economy of Local Governance which is a favorite of his. There are currently 90,000 units of Local Government in the US which is down from 300,000. There are Multiple Local Levels comprised of primary units, umbrella units, optional units, special purposes, fire protections, state agencies and informal units such as tax districts. Local governments are used as instruments for solving public problems. Allegany County Capital Assets include: Institutional, Physical, Human, Natural and Social. Areas for concentration and development: Task Forces, Place-Based Education, Local Friends of State, Creation of Land Banks. The first step is to start to assemble groups of individuals who have similar concerns and objectives and who must be able to work at various levels of government. In order to achieve change, growth and advancement; it is up to each and every one of us to be an instrument of that success. Roll up your sleeves and give back, volunteer, attend meetings, let your voices be heard. We are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas of this fine country and it is time that it is no longer "the best kept secret." After a brief trip to the Belmont Village Building we were greeted by Rick Hoshal - Village of Belmont Clerk who gave tours of the historical building which included the Horn Room and the old theater. We were then treated to an interesting panel discussion with Earl Johnson - Treasurer, Town of Caneadea, Rick Hoshal, Deb Aumack, Rep. for State Senator Cathy young, and Lee James, rep. for U. S. Cong. Tom Reed. Each introduced themselves and gave us their job descriptions along with what a typical day might look like. Chairperson Phyllis Gaerte and a couple of classmates asked questions of the panel. Volunteerism is an important component of local government and the growth of our county and communities. We learned a great deal from this fact filled Industry Day. There are many Leadership Opportunities in our own backyards. I left Belmont excited and wanting to return to our next classroom session, I also completed my life "Bucket List" which I have only talked of doing, completed my blog and have a head start on my own Leadership Plan. Thank you to Leadership Allegany!