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Village Budget 

The Village of Millbrook’s tentative budget will result in a tax levy of $898,590, a 1.5 percent increase from last year—well under the tax cap, said Mayor Laura Hurley at the April 7 budget meeting.  

Village revenue was projected at $1,530,220. Hurley said water and sewer funds continue to remain self-supporting, but there is a possibility for rate increase to take care of capital projects at the water- and wastewater plant.  Salaries for employees, health insurance and the police department budget have yet to be reviewed. 

The next workshop meeting is Monday, April 14.

Volunteers needed for Fire and Rescue 

Fire Chief Ted Bownas, Rescue Squad head Laurie Olsen and Fire Department President Matt Rochfort reviewed the fire and rescue portion of the budget. Mayor Hurley informed the board that the volunteer company has been very busy this winter and is in dire need of volunteers for both fire and rescue services.

Bids for new truck

Police officers, veterinarians, ultrasound technicians and Navy SEALs filled the Millbrook High School cafeteria for the school’s annual Career Day on April 10. 

School guidance counselors Helen Grady and Lisa Petta invited 40 professionals to tell students about the career options that are available to them for the future as well as today.   

Throughout the morning students in grades 9 through 12 could talk to the many professionals who brought brochures, pens and even dogs to encourage the students’ interest.  

Veterinarian Jan Robinson, accompanied by a Maltese named Royal, represented her practice at the Hudson Valley Veterinary Imaging. Students gathered around Robinson as she demonstrated how to perform an ultrasound on a dog by rubbing ultrasound gel on Royal’s belly as the Maltese lay quietly on a wedge cushion. 

In 1864 the Dutchess County Legislature approved the purchase of 105 acres on Oak Summit Road for a facility for dependent men and women. The building became known as the Dutchess County Infirmary.  The property is now, with several additions of new buildings, the Eastern Dutchess Government Center. 

 A majority of the buildings at the Eastern Dutchess Government Center are in a state of decay, with visible holes in the roof and extensive water damage. The County Legislature is discussing an $800,000 bond, to be voted on in May, to demolish nine buildings at the site. 

County Legislator Michael Kelsey brought the pending demolition program to the attention of the village board on Tuesday, April 8.  The county’s five-year capital projects plan was to tear down all buildings with the exception of the West Wing, which is in the best condition. Kelsey said that at this time, the West Wing may also be demolished. The East Wing Building collapsed two years ago. 

The cell tower proposed for Fraleigh Hill stirred up heated discussion at the TOW Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, April 1. The meeting was moved from Town Hall to the Millbrook Fire House to host the crowd. Planning Board president Joshua Mackey chuckled as Fire Chief Ted Bownas handed him a gavel in case the meeting got out of hand. 

The board swiftly approved two lot line changes.  A donation of one acre by Christina Lang Assael to St. Peter’s cemetery and Scott and Alison Meyer’s merging a lot owned by Erich Mauff and Adele Griffin-Watson on Hammond Hill Road passed without public comment. 

The Dutchess County Legislature repealed 3.75% tax sales tax on residential customers on Monday, April 7, responding to wide-spread political opposition from voters and politicians. The repeal was made possible when the State allocated $5.25 million to the county, thereby curing the hole in the budget that had been filled by the tax on heating fuels. 

Although county residents are relieved to see the tax repealed, cuts to programs were not restored. 

County Planning informed non-profits that $705,400 of grants funds were cut.   The North East Community Center Director Jenny Hansell responded in an email to the County Executive and legislators that the loss of funding would impact programs for youth development and farmer’s markets for low-income families. 

“We want to be fiscally responsible to our taxpayers, and we want to maintain current programs,” said Philip D’Angelo, Jr., superintendent of Millbrook schools, at the April 7 meeting at which the school board was given a précis of the likely budget.  Because the amount of school aid from the state is still an unknown, the budget remains an open question. But certain directions are taking shape.

Because enrollment has been dropping in the elementary school, the board focused on consolidating in that area.  

Total enrollment was 1,091 in 2012 and 1,048 in 2013. As of March 31, 2014, total enrollment in the district was 1,050 students.

D’Angelo said the district might be getting as much as an additional $110,000 in state aid, which would reduce the tax-levy increase to 1.83 percent. 

“We are moving people around and looking at retirements,” D’Angelo said. The district is looking at a number of ways to consolidate services and positions, including in the clerical staff. 

Silo Ridge took center stage at the auditorium on Monday, March 24, in Amenia Town Hall, where the newest version of the development scheme for the Silo Ridge Field Club was unveiled. The centerpiece of the presentation was made by Dan O’Callaghan of Discovery Land Company. O’Callaghan emphasized the amenities and attention to detail by which Discovery’s 17 golf club projects are known. Discovery, under O’Callaghan’s local leadership, will apply the ingredients of their brand to the Silo Ridge project, bringing architects, designers and a recognized lifestyle orientation that has meant success for a string of projects from Mexico and Hawaii to Texas, Montana and South Carolina and now Amenia and the Hamptons.

Not too long ago, stormwater was viewed as a dirty thing to be gotten off parking lots and roads as soon as possible and into a stormdrain that went directly into a river.  Now the paradigm has changed.  Clean water in streams is seen as a precious resource.  Techniques to infiltrate stormwater into the ground, called green infrastructure, are now being applied before the polluted runoff gets into the streams.  Watershed protection groups have been educating the public about these techniques for a long time.

The latest tax return of the Homeland Foundation, owner of Wethersfield, shows that the trustees continued the practice of spending capital far in excess of income, and they continue to squeeze the farming operations while maintaining the generous salary of the president, Barbara Wyckoff, wife of the former president.

The trustees spent $2,114,536 more in expenses than they received in income, yet they continued to pay the president at the rate of $300,000 a year, according to the tax return for the period that ended April 30, 2013. They also paid a secretary who works in the New York office part time $70,000 a year. The return was filed in March 2014, permitted with the filing of extensions. The total income, including capital gains of $47,110, was $609,906 in the year, as compared with the prior year (ending April 30 2012) income of $1,143,106. 

The foundation made $80,000 in grants to other organizations. Grants to Duke University and the Church of the Sacred Heart totaling $1.9 million, which had been reported in prior returns as approved, were not made. The latest return noted that these grants had been “reversed” on the books of the foundation. 

On May 1 our home electric bills will go up about 10 percent and our business bills about 15 percent in the New York City (NYC) capacity zone. The current northern edge of the zone is Yonkers. On May 1 the New York City capacity zone will be expanded to include Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, and the southern edge of Columbia county, along with the corresponding counties on the western side of the Hudson River. With the change, the zone will include prime sites for electric power plant construction in Dutchess and Ulster county. There will also be a rate hike imposed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), billed to all rate-payers. Different parties have estimated the fee at from $220 million per year up to $370 million per year. This fee will only be removed two years after the cost of electricity in the zone is equalized with the rate outside the zone. The FERC has the idea that electricity used in New York City—with high land costs, high labor costs, high transport costs—should have the same price as electricity used in Utica, New York, with low costs for land, labor and transportation.

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