G’town opens budget process with little room for growth

GERMANTOWN—October is budget month for Columbia County towns, and money was a frequent topic at the September 27 Town Board meeting.

Supervisor Joel Craig set three budget workshops and a public hearing. The first workshop took place on Tuesday, October 4. The others are also on Tuesdays, October 11 and 18, both at 6 p.m. at Town Hall. The Public Hearing on the 2017 budget takes place Tuesday, October 25 at 6:30 p.m., right before the 7 p.m. Town Board meeting. All workshops open to the public.

“Our workshops are pretty freeform,” Mr. Craig wrote in an email Tuesday. “I would expect that tonight [October 4] we would go over the department requests, discuss the things that are not included in the tentative budget and get a general feel for how we want to move forward.”

At the October 11 workshop, Mr. Craig said he would present the preliminary budget, “which is my take on things (taking into account the previous input from the board).”

The October 18 workshop, he said, “is a general tidying up of things prior to presenting the budget to the public.”

The town’s tax cap this year is 0.6%, well below the 2% ceiling. “I don’t have the actual dollar calculation from the state yet,” Mr. Craig wrote, “but as you can see it means virtually no tax increase.”

In other business at the September 27 Town Board meeting:

• With money remaining in the snow removal budget after a dry 2015-16 winter, Highway Superintendent Richard Jennings asked for authority to use about $7,000 of snow removal funds to purchase a Tilt Tach, which side shifts and tilts attachments up and down large equipment, and a 72-inch angle plow for more careful plowing of the new sidewalks, some of which are too narrow for current equipment. Mr. Jennings wanted to make the purchase this year, rather than waiting for the 2017 budget. After some discussion, the board approved the purchase

• The board held back pending further research a bill from a planning consultant who had advised the Zoning Board of Appeals. The board’s resolution had capped the expense at $1,200, and the bill came in at $1,400

• Mr. Craig announced again that the Board of Assessment Review has one vacancy. The job requires some training, “but then you work one day in May, all day,” hearing grievances against property tax assessments, “and you get paid.” Applicants should contact Town Clerk Joyce Vale

• The town is also looking for a volunteer to serve as Germantown’s representative on the Columbia County Office of Aging Advisory Committee; interested parties should contact the town clerk

• Two planning consultants responded to the town’s request for proposals for a planner to advise the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee: Greenplan, Inc., of Rhinebeck, which is assisting the Planning Board, and Planit Main Street in Rock Hill in Sullivan County. The board chose Planit Main Street

• Supervisor Craig appointed Jason Shelton, the new manager of Gtel, to the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee

• Mr. Craig appointed Martin Overington and William Foster to the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) committee, and the board formally accepted a $15,000 LWRP grant from the state Department of State

• Town justice Robert Beaury will handle the JCAP (Justice Court Assistance Program) application again this year. JCAP offers outright grants, not matching funds, for court improvements. This year the town will apply for $13,000 for a generator to keep Town Hall, which houses the courtroom, up and running in all weather, and $2,000 for additional video and sound capabilities in the courtroom, where Town Board meetings take place

• The town’s flu clinic is Thursday, November 3 from 11 a.m. to noon at Town Hall

• The board gave a “hat’s off” to Colarusso & Sons and the engineers for the finally completed sidewalk project. “The sidewalks turned out amazing,” said Deputy Supervisor Brittany DuFresne. “People are walking on them; it’s safer.”

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