Village fights its tax bills, winning exemption from town

PHILMONT–‘Tain’t fair, the Philmont Board of Trustees said, and the Claverack Town Board blinked.

The issue was town taxes on village-owned property outside the village limits. Village Trustee Brian Johnson led the attack at the June Village Board meeting. “We should not pay that,” he said, urging village residents to show up at Town Board meetings and to write the town, Columbia County “and whoever” to object.

He said not-for-profit organizations don’t have to pay town taxes, with the single exception of the village. The situation amounts to a kind of double jeopardy, he suggested, in that Philmont residents already pay town taxes on their own properties.

Last month, the Town Board denied Philmont the exemption by a vote of two ayes, one nay and two abstentions (three ayes were needed to pass the exemption). Then in a special meeting last week the town took up the question again, and this time the Town Board granted the exemption by a vote of three ayes and two abstentions.

Now the village hopes for a similar exemption from Columbia County and the Taconic Hills school district, and has hired Albany attorney Paul Goldman to pursue the matter.

The properties involved include Forest Lake, the Preusser Road well field and the sewage treatment plant. The plant, for example, racked up town taxes of $3,427 this year, on an assessed value of $328,000. Next year, according to Village Clerk/Treasurer Eilene Morris, the assessed value jumps to $1.9 million.

“We don’t know what the tax will be because the rates haven’t been set yet,” she said.

Also at the meeting, Village Attorney Robert Fitzsimmons unveiled a proposed measure regulating the keeping of chickens and other barnyard denizens within the village.

With a Special Use Permit, livestock, poultry, fowl, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, bees and such can be kept for “personal non-commercial use” on residential properties, provided:

*The critter weighs less than 100 pounds

*The lot where it is kept is not less than an acre (thus keeping animals out of high-density neighborhoods), and the animal area is not less than 100 feet from the property line

*Animal areas are fenced, and animals are provided with shelters to prevent escape or predatory attack

*Animal waste is stored under cover or composted.

Up to five animals are permitted on any one property; an additional beast is allowed for each 8,000 square feet over one acre.

Also at the meeting, trustees:

*Heard from Ms. Morris that the village office will be closed Monday, July 4 for Independence Day.

*Heard from Library Director Karen Garafolo that Philmont ranks third in Columbia County in total circulation, with 36,713 items circulated in 2010, behind the much larger Kinderhook and Chatham libraries.

What a day it will be

PHILMONT–Community Day, Saturday, July 9, just keeps on growing.

Head planner Dick Howard told the Village Board last week that a $2,000 donation from the restaurant Local 111 brings the total for fireworks to $4,500, meaning a bigger and longer display than last year, when $3,600 was raised. Other major donors are the Village Board, $2,000, and the fire company, $500.

Additional donations are still welcome, Mr. Howard said: “We’ll take all the money we can get.”

Other Community Day attractions include:

*Philmont Rotary Fishing Derby, 8 to 10 a.m.

*Youth trap shooting, Rod & Gun Club, 9 a.m.

*Sack and relay races on the Philmont Hearth lawn, 11 a.m.

*Car show on Maple Avenue, noon to 2 p.m.

*Dunking booth at the firehouse, 1 p.m.

*Remarks by Rep. Chris Gibson at 1:45, kicking off the parade from the American Legion building to the Village Green

*Tractor pull at noon at the warehouse on Elm Street

*Petting zoo on Maple Avenue, noon on

*Water polo, Rod & Gun Club, 1 to 2 p.m.

*Demonstrations, booths, food, music and more.

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