Tioga County Endorses Property Rights Bill

Jun 22, 2015
In The News

At its regular June meeting, the Tioga County Legislature took on the hot-button issue of property rights. The legislature endorsed a federal bill, Defense of Property Rights Act, which would allow landowners the opportunity to sue the government if a government action impairs an owner’s land value by $20,000 or 20 percent.

The county’s resolution cites the Fifth Amendment, which states that “no person … be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law: nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The measure notes that some governmental regulations affect the value and use of private land and that private property owners deserve just compensation. One of the examples mentioned is the state’s decision to ban hydrofracking “which significantly affects the value and use of private land.”

The federal bill, H.R. 510, was introduced by Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) in January of this year and in February was referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Currently, there are two cosponsors signed on to the House bill. GovTrack.usestimates that the federal bill has a 1 percent chance of being enacted.

The legislature also set a public hearing for the possible adoption of a local law authorizing the use of best value awarding methodology for contracts awarded through the competitive bidding process. Under General Municipal Law, bids may be awarded on the basis of best value or low bid, thanks to a 2012 state law that enabled municipalities to pass local laws adopting best value awarding practices.

The reasoning in the language of the state legislation is that public procurement policies that have low initial costs can ultimately result in higher overall costs to taxpayers. According to the definitions, “best value” means that contracts would be awarded on a basis that maximizes “quality, cost and efficiency, among responsive and responsible offerers.” (A particularly excellent example of this is the Candor town barn renovation and expansion project; one of the low-bid contractors made errors that ended up costing more to repair in the long run.)

The public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, July 9 at 1:05 p.m. in the Edward D. Hubbard Auditorium of the Ronald E. Dougherty County Office Building at 56 Main Street in Owego.

Effective June 29, Richard Perkins will become the new deputy commissioner of public works. In a unanimous vote, the legislature approved him to fill the vacant position at a non-union salary of $65,895.