Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Prisons, VICs Top Proposed Adirondack Budget Cuts

Among the recommended cuts in Governor David Paterson’s budget are two local prisons: Moriah Shock Facility in Essex County and minimum-security Lyon Mountain in Clinton County. Also on the block are the Adirondack Park Agency’s Visitor Interpretive Centers in Paul Smiths and Newcomb.

The cuts, if accepted by the legislature, would be less black and white for the VICs than for the prisons. The VICs, though currently reliant on state funding, also have in place a nonprofit support board in the form of the Adirondack Park Institute, which has been working to develop something of a private, Wild Center model to support the educational facilities independently of the state. Paterson’s budget estimates severing the VICs would save the state $129,000 in 2010-11 and $583,000 annually thereafter.

Local officials can be expected to put up a fight for the prisons, but they were not successful in sparing Camp Gabriels, in Franklin County, which was shut down earlier this year. Lyon Mountain, which would close in January 2011, and Moriah Shock, which would close in April 2011, are two of four prisons suggested for closure (Ogdensburg medium security in St. Lawrence County and Butler minimum security in Wayne County are the other two). The budget proposal states, “The prison population is projected to decline by 1,100 inmates in the current fiscal year and by another 1,000 inmates in the 2010-11 fiscal year – reaching a total of 57,600 inmates. . . . Once the closures are completed, the workforce will have been reduced by 637 staff, including 17 managerial staff. (2010-11 Savings: $7 million; 2011- 12 Savings: $52 million).”

Here is a link to the Executive Budget briefing book.

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Mary Thill

Mary Thill lives in Saranac Lake and has worked alternately in journalism and Adirondack conservation for three decades.




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