The tax rates for the proposed budget are: $5.57 per $1,000 of assessed value for a town resident, down from $6.54; and $3.65 per $1,000 for a village resident, up from $2.89.
For comparison’s sake, the budget’s cover sheet gives a total tax amount for the average assessment in 2010 and 2011. For the 2010 budget the average assessment was $187,359, for 2011, $220,614. (This increase reflects the revaluation’s chief effect, which was to move assessments from 81 percent of their market value to 100 percent.)
Under this hypothetical scenario, the greater impact for village residents becomes clear: their taxes go from $805.35 to $542.22, while the amount paid by town residents increases by just $3.70, from $1225.14 to $1,228.84.
This will be the first budget with an expanded town police department which will cover both the town and the village. The Village Police Department will cease operations December 31, 2010.
The police department is the only budget item to be transferred from the town outside the village budget to the townwide budget, said town auditor Gary Newkirk. In the 2010 budget, and in prior years, village residents contribute toward the police dispatchers, but not the patrolmen and their equipment. Thus the townwide cost of police services – the cost that includes the town and village – was $210,200, while residents of the town outside the village paid $1,301,500 for police. In this year’s budget there is no cost for town residents separate from the village; all residents would pay the full $1,811,500 budgeted for police services.
Village residents expecting lower taxes will have to wait until the village passes its budget in March to see if an expected reduction there is greater than the increase to their town taxes.
The town expects to absorb nearly all the village officers except the police chief, William Kimble and possibly one or two others, according to figures released at earlier meetings on the merger.
For village police officers making the transfer, the merger would mean higher salaries, though some long-term officers would lose longevity pay. The town would pay for up to 10 years of longevity, said police chief Louis Barbaria. “All the officers who transfer will be better off financially,” he said. Barbaria expects seven officers to join the town police.
Town of Saugerties Police chief Louis Barbaria has been granted an additional six months’ waiver to serve in his job, town supervisor Greg Helsmoortel announced at the regular town board meeting on Wednesday, October 20. Barbaria, a retired State Police major, periodically needs to apply for a waiver to stay on as a police chief without losing state pension benefits. The waiver that allows him to continue working was to run out on December 31, Helsmoortel said.
“This is very good news for the Town of Saugerties,” Helsmoortel said. “[Chief Barbaria] is very familiar with the consolidation that will be occurring on January 1, and it is very important for him to be a part of that, to see that through, and we were very fortunate to receive that extension.”
Barbaria has served as Town of Saugerties police chief since late in 2008.
The board voted 4-0, with deputy supervisor Fred Costello absent, to seek $200,000 in funding from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for “a recreational trail within the Cantines Veterans Memorial Complex and through village property to a trail head at Claremont Street.” Much of the work would be done by town employees, which will cover the town’s obligation to match the funds. The town had sought a similar grant several years ago, but was turned down, Helsmoortel said. However, the project did receive a high grade, and it now includes more of the village, so it should have a chance of being funded, said the supervisor.
The board voted 4-0 to approve the town personnel acceptable use of town property agreement. The agreement covers how employees may use town electronic equipment for their personal use, Helsmoortel explained.
Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton reported that planning is underway for the town’s bicentennial next year. A poster designed by artist Carol Zaloom will be distributed as soon as the committee approves it. A calendar with illustrations of the history of the town and the village of Saugerties is in the works to be sold to help raise money for the celebration, which is to be at no cost to taxpayers, Thornton said.
A barbecue is set for July 10, and an old timers’ day for August 6, Thornton said. A square dance is planned for Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) for that evening. A gala celebration at the Lazy Swan is in the works for April, Thornton said.
Many of the events during next year’s bicentennial celebrations will be free of charge, Thornton said.
Councilman Jimmy Bruno reported the water department has contacted two firms, seeking bids to check the water tank in Glasco to determine whether a leak in the tank contributed to a larger water bill earlier this year than could be accounted for by metered usage. The contract would include having divers go into the tank and clean out accumulated sludge.
Francello raises new concerns about halfway house
Saugerties Planning Board member Thomas Francello’s allegations of improper construction at Win One For Jesus’ halfway house for women recovering from drug or alcohol abuse are not sufficient to stop the project, Helsmoortel said Wednesday.
Francello’s objections range from trees that are too short to meet the approved plans to poor drainage. He also has asserted that the facility’s driveway was to be provided with speed bumps.
Councilman Bruce Leighton read letters from engineer Dennis Larios, attorney George Redder and building inspector Alvah Weeks certifying that work the planning board has been completed. Larios states in a letter he has visited the site to check drainage improvements on the site at least half a dozen times to check drainage Francello said was insufficient, and found it met or exceeded the approved plans.
“I haven’t built the project; I will not be rewarded dollar wise for the project, I just want the project done correctly,” Francello said. “If someone is to be scolded in a letter for 30 hours of Dennis Larios’s time, it should be the applicants … it shouldn’t be the neighbors.”
The facility is allowed to take in only women who have completed a licensed drug or alcohol program, Francello said. “How are you going to enforce that?” he asked.
“We have many facilities in Saugerties that assist in situations such as this. I am not aware of a single problem,” Helsmoortel said.
The next Saugerties Town Board meeting is set for November 3 at 7 p.m. A public hearing on the 2011 budget will begin at 6 p.m., prior to the regular meeting.