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June 26th, 2013

Skartados secures another judge as City court reform bill passes

Assemblyman Frank Skartados

NEWBURGH - In an effort to boost Newburgh’s battle against urban blight and dilapidated buildings, Assemblyman Frank Skartados secured an additional judgeship for the purpose of cracking down on code violations (A.6552-B). There are currently two full-time city judges in Newburgh, who handle both civil and criminal matters. The additional city court judge, focused on code enforcement, will send a clear message to absentee and irresponsible landlords that neglect to Newburgh’s historic buildings will no longer be tolerated.

"For much too long, absentee and irresponsible landlords have been neglecting our historic buildings, blighting our city and posing a safety risk to our region’s children," Assemblyman Skartados said. "By adding this state-funded judge focused on issues of blight, Newburgh will be able to crack down on serious code violations in a prompt fashion."

Mayor Judy Kennedy of the City of Newburgh supports this legislation. "A third judge that would focus on Codes enforcement and Quality of Life issues would be a real ‘game changer’ for the City of Newburgh. We are committed to moving this City forward in a positive way and to our continued partnership with Assemblyman Skartados," said Mayor Judy Kennedy.

Victor Mirabelli, who serves on the Newburgh Zoning Board of Appeals and is an active member of the Newburgh Heights Association, also is in favor of this legislation. "Finally, with the establishing of a third full-time city court judgeship focusing on quality of life issues, the City of Newburgh can realize its great potential in offering a safer, cleaner and better functioning environment for its citizens. Strong Code enforcement offers the City of Newburgh an opportunity for exceptional growth and promise in the foreseeable future," said Victor Mirabelli.

The addition of a third full-time city court judge is estimated to bring Newburgh as much as $1 million a year in revenue, due to increased prosecutions of absentee and negligent landlords. There is no cost to city taxpayers for this proposal. City court judges are funded by the state-operated Unified Court System and not local taxpayers. This bill is a follow up to similar legislation enacted in 1988, 1995, 2001, and 2006 for other cities across the state.

The city court reform bill has passed the Assembly. Skartados is urging the Senate to take up the measure promptly. If approved, the new judge would take office on January 1, 2015, following his or her election by the voters in 2014.

"By securing this blight-fighting judge, absentee and negligent landlords who allow their buildings to fall into disrepair will pay up or go to jail," Assemblyman Skartados said. "Less blight means less crime, less gang violence, and a healthier, cleaner city for all to live in."

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