ELIZABETHTOWN — Expense reports for Essex County lawmakers show five topped the $3,000 mark last year, while two claimed no expenses at all.
All in all, members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors received a total of $39,170 in mileage reimbursement and personal expenses for 2013.
In general, the supervisors from the county’s most far-flung towns from the county seat received more in mileage because they had longer drives to weekly county meetings in Elizabethtown.
Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) received $7,751 for mileage and expenses last year, but, as chairman of the board, he makes frequent trips to the state capital in Albany and other locations on the county’s behalf.
“As chairman the last four years, my travel has increased significantly,” he said by email. “To do the job right and to represent Essex County to the best of my ability, the chairman must travel.”
Douglas is often on the road to lobby state and federal representatives — something he’s done successfully numerous times since taking the chairman’s post.
“Travel to Albany and Washington (D.C.) is necessary to be at the front of the line to leverage funding for Essex County and the 18 towns within it, for such needs of hundreds of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) projects over the last few years, bridge repairs and replacements, water and sewer infrastructure improvements, highway repairs, radio communication upgrades, housing grants, broadband (Internet) funds and Main Street revitalization grants, to just name a few,” Douglas said.
He said grants are especially needed in the North Country because most municipalities are not able to afford multi-million-dollar infrastructure projects.
“Believe me, my family would rather have me home, but the funding opportunities are very competitive, and there is no success in leveraging these monies by sitting home.