Both the village and town boards held their regular monthly meetings last week. The town’s comprehensive plan is still being looked over. A workshop will be scheduled on a date to be announced. A separate article in this issue updates Bennett and the Thorne Building news.
New Village Trustee
The Board asked Tim Collopy to serve on the Board of Trustees, filling the vacancy of Thomas Whalen who resigned from the board earlier in the year. Collopy was appointed to the board Tuesday, June 10. He will serve an unexpired term until December 31, 2016. Collopy is president of the Millbrook Lions Club.
Board of Ethics
The village board appointed Mike Herzog, John Dux and Reverend Donna-Frischknecht-Jackson to the board of ethics. All were in attendance on Tuesdays board meeting to take their oath of office. The board of ethics establishes and enforces guidelines of ethical behavior for village officials and employees.
County representative Mike Kelsey told the Washington town board Thursday that the repealed energy tax was never necessary. The consumer energy consumption tax of 3.75 percent, implemented on March 1 and repealed April 7, wasn’t needed after all.
County executive Marcus Molinaro pushed for the tax to avoid increasing the property tax to close a budget gap. Kelsey, however, said county legislators were later informed that the county wasn’t in as dire financial need as it let on.
“We learned now, at the end of April, after repealing the energy tax, that last year we didn’t finish with a deficit. We actually finished with a surplus of $5.3 million,” said Kelsey. “Which says the energy tax was never needed.”
“Even in the middle of April, when we were discussing repealing the energy tax, we weren’t even told then there was a surplus. … Either they knew and did not choose to share the information or someone was sleeping at the wheel.”
The County of Dutchess, in order to balance its budget, is imposing a tax of 3.75 percent on consumer energy consumption starting March 1, 2014, according to a report county legislator Mike Kelsey made to the TOW board last week, on Thursday, December 12.
Kelsey said the legislature approved its 2014 budget at $439.3 million, which includes a property tax increase of 1.9 percent.
The budget also includes a controversial new energy tax that will go into effect on March 1 and will expire on February 29, 2017.
All residential home energy will be taxed at 3.75 percent, including steam, firewood, propane, and natural gas. It is not clear whether wood pellets will be subject to the tax. County executive Marc Molinaro said the alternative to the energy tax was a property tax increase of 12 percent.
It’s up to the county executive to sign or veto the budget.
Kelsey strongly opposes the energy tax, which he feels will burden county residents and hurt local businesses that might lose customers because they might travel to other counties or states for energy resources.
Voters approved the proposition extending the supervisor’s term from two to four years. Town of Washington supervisor Gary Ciferri said that he was pleased with the public’s decision, which will go into effect on January 1, extending his own term to four years.
The public hearing on the budget was continued. No member of the public spoke on the budget.
The town is considering abandoning its current insurance provider to join the Dutchess County Worker’s Compensation Plan. The town currently pays PERMA $66,000 a year, but under the county insurance, it would pay $21,000. County Director of Risk Management Rebecca White was invited to attend the town’s December meeting to explain the county’s insurance plan. The town passed a motion to send a letter to PERMA, the current insurance provider, to notify the company that the town is considering other options.
The town also set a public hearing for December 12 for the village- and town fire contract.
The town board held an open public hearing for the 2014 Town of Washington budget on Monday, Nov. 4. The proposed budget consists of $3,253,260 in appropriations, $884,000 in revenue, $283,415 in fund balance and tax levy of $2,085,845. The proposed budget meets the two percent tax cap. The key cuts include a reduction of one position in the assessor’s office by 10 hours per pay period. The recreation department raised fees to balance their increase in programs. Bookkeeper to the Supervisor, Laura Hurley, said there was a little trimming but no major cuts in the budget. All of the town employees received a two percent raise except for the town board members and the supervisor. The board decided to keep the public hearing open until their next board meeting on Thursday, Nov. 14th.
Councilwoman Karen Mosca told the town board last Thursday that the town’s comprehensive plan is almost finished.Mosca said she spoke with planning consultant Neil Wilson, who informed her that a finished document of the comprehensive plan would be available this coming Friday. The town will have two public hearings on the comprehensive plan, the dates of which will be announced.Wilson’s job was to “put the plan together but make no changes to the content.”Mosca said she will make sure the finished comprehensive plan is posted on the town website.
Kieran Michael Lalor, Assemblyman for the 105th District, which includes the Town of Washington, appeared at the town board Thursday to discuss his reform bills and give a legislative report.
In a three-hour-long combined workshop and town board meeting on Thursday, July12, the Amenia Town Board adopted a new local ordinance, discussed a low-impact engineering solution to wastewater treatment, heard a report on the old landfill remediation project, discussed continuing improvements in town hall and heard from members of the public.
It is seldom business as usual in the town of Stanford, where the town supervisor faces a majority committed to contentiousness.
At the town board meeting of Thursday, May 10, after most of the audience had gone, councilman Mark D’Agostino said he had a memo that he alleged proved that Supervisor Virginia Stern had violated a law by releasing confidential information on April 1, 2011, that was then used in the Article 78 proceeding that residents brought against the town. He did not release the memo in question. On a vote, Stern abstained, Shafer voted no, and Norton, Dewhirst, and D’Agostino voted yes to carry on an investigation. The Article 78 proceeding was eventually abandoned.
Anyone who attended the last Planning Board and Town Board meetings in Pine Plains and heard the comments and accusations regarding the Durst proposal probably came away with varying states of confusion. The following is an attempt to clear the fog and keep the discussion logical and civil.