View from the Harlem Valley Rail Trail courtesy of Linda C. and Dutchess County Parks’ Facebook page.
But what do county legislators do?
In New York State, home rule provisions give counties rights and obligations that allow them to regulate the quality of life, provide services, and raise funds.
Dutchess is one of 19 NY counties governed by a charter. Our charter was approved by voters in 1967 and divides the government into legislative and executive branches elected by the people. (Read the charter and related provisions here.)
There are functions and services counties must provide and others that they may provide. Here are some of the programs legislators fund and oversee in Dutchess:
- Health and human services including agencies to address the needs of children and the elderly
- Agriculture and the environment
- Parks and recreation, e.g., the county has five parks and two rail trails
- Public safety, law enforcement, jails, and courts
- Transportation, e.g., public transit, dial-a-ride, park ‘n ride lots
- Land use and planning
- Licensing and permits, e.g., Dept. of Motor Vehicles
- Employment and job opportunities, e.g., civil service exams
For a more detailed discussion of the powers counties do and don’t have, see the 7-page booklet, New York County Government Overview produced by the National Association of Counties.