A special meeting of Cayuga County legislators was called for Thursday to discuss a topic that's been generating some robust discussion the past few months: the future of the Cayuga County Office Building.
Discussion questions were drafted and it seemed that a substantive session would take place. Legislature Chairman Keith Batman said a few days ahead that the idea was to start figuring out what information county leaders needed to gather in order to get a process started for evaluating building needs.
But soon after the meeting began, current legislators decided they ought to hold off on the discussion until the three newly elected legislators and the incoming county administrator are on the job.
It was a bit of a head scratcher that a special meeting was called only to decide not to discuss something, but the reason behind the decision pointed to a different question: Where were the incoming legislators on Thursday night?
This discussion on the building was not the only major topic under review at the Legislature chamber on Thursday night. Deliberations and a vote on the tentative 2018 budget also were taking place.
As the year winds down, the Cayuga County Legislature is doing the difficult and important work of reviewing the 2018 budget for county government. At roughly $146 million, this is the largest spending plan of any public entity in the county, a reflection of the extensive reach the county's services for its taxpayers.
Given all of that, we were surprised that Chris Petrus, Elane Daly and Charles Ripley — all Election Day victors who will be sworn into office in January — weren't at Thursday's proceedings. It's possible that all three had valid reasons for not going, but we hope they try to get to the meetings that are coming up.
Nothing requires people who win election to the Legislature to begin attending the body's public meetings in the roughly two months prior to them officially joining, and they don't start on the payroll until the new year, either. But plenty of lawmaker-elects through the years did make an effort to attend these important budget sessions because they viewed it as part of their responsibility to stay on top of issues and perhaps even weigh in on a question or two when appropriate.
Elected office transitions can be tricky. One person is leaving but still making official decisions while another person is primed to get started with the fresh backing of voters. Despite this potential for conflict, it's vital that both are fully engaged in the business of the public body to which they've been elected.
The Citizen Editorial Board includes publisher Rob Forcey, managing editor Mike Dowd and executive editor Jeremy Boyer.