The shift to just one Oneida County Board of Legislators meeting most months is getting a thumbs up response from the Republican caucus. However, the view is not nearly so rosy on the Democratic side of the aisle.
The downsized schedule began in January when a new legislature started its term. One outcome of fewer meetings is that full board meetings now typically last longer.
Board Chairman Gerald J. Fiorini, R-20, Rome, asked for comments from Republican lawmakers about the meeting schedule when they caucused prior to the June monthly meeting on Wednesday.
"I like it," responded James M. D’Onofrio, R-15, New Hartford.
"Ditto," said Richard A. Flisnik, R-8, Marcy. "We’re getting the work done. I think it is working very well for the first six months."
When first-term Legislator Howard J. Regner, R-2, Verona, was asked about monthly meetings, he said, "I’m good."
None of the GOP lawmakers present expressed dissatisfaction although some members were missing from the session. The 29-member board has 16 Republicans.
"As far as I am concerned, it is working out," said Fiorini.
Minority Leader Frank D. Tallarino, D-7, Rome, expressed opposition to fewer meetings six months ago and still holds that opinion.
"It’s just unrealistic. It doesn’t work," he said Friday. "It’s not doing the taxpayers justice."
He said too many resolutions were being taken up at board meetings for thoughtful consideration. He also saw a problem with there being fewer committee meetings.
"My opinion is that most of my caucus thinks it is not working out," he said.
In the first half of this year, legislators voted on 228 resolutions during seven meetings, including the organization session in January. In the first half of 2011, after 11 meetings, 175 resolutions had been taken up by the board. There was only one meeting in February last year.
Exceptions to the one-meeting-a-month policy will occur in November and December when there will be two sessions each month to accommodate budget matters and end-of-the-year business.
Normally the board meets at 2 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month in Utica. Special meetings can be called to handle urgent matters. There are no more night meetings.
Additionally, the legislature is operating with fewer standing committees this year. There are now seven instead of the previous 12.