PHILMONT–At its July meeting the Claverack Town Board approved a letter to residents in the town lighting district informing them of changes scheduled to take effect next year that will correct billing errors in the district.
The letter and the lighting district changes result from a report that Councilwoman Maryanne Lee and a representative of power company National Grid presented to the Town Board at its March 2017 meeting. The report identified properties currently charged a lighting district tax and also compiled a list of all the streetlights within the district. It was explained at the meeting in March that the cost of lights and their installation would be covered by National Grid but the electricity to operate them is paid for by the town. Property owners in the district are taxed to cover the cost of the electricity.
Town Attorney Robert Fitzsimmons Jr. said that a property in the district can be taxed for the service even if there is no streetlight on the road where the property is located. If there is a light at the end of a road intersecting a highway or another road, complaints of being taxed without having a nearby light would not be valid.
The letter approved at the board’s July 13, 2017 meeting explains that the boundaries for the Town of Claverack Lighting District #1 were established in 1946 by the Town Board and complied with New York State Town Law concerning special districts at that time.
Property owners within the district are charged a fee based on the assessment of their property, with no exemptions allowed. The letter further explains that a complete review of the tax rolls involving the lighting district was performed over the past year. That review found that several parcels of land within the district boundaries had not been billed and a few parcels lying outside the district had been taxed. It concludes by stating that adjustments to these “inequities” will be made starting with the 2018 property tax bill. These changes were adopted at the last town workshop meeting on June 26.
Councilwoman Lee stated during her report saying that she met with assessor Charles Brewer to review his findings with the lighting district and to finalize the adjustments.
The motion for the letter to be sent out was proposed by Councilman Stephen Hook and seconded by Councilwoman Lee.
In a related matter town Supervisor Clifford “Kippy” Weigelt said that Clean Energy Communities had conducted a program the night before at a county Board of Supervisors meeting.
“What they’re looking for is there’s money available to help make us cleaner,” said Mr. Weigelt. He added that the presentation had also addressed the benefits of saving energy, as in “the cleaner we can get without using fossil fuels and stuff like that.”
He told Ms Lee that this might fit with plans for the lighting district, which could install LED streetlights that use less energy than conventional lights, and that the town would be looking into these issues.
Also covered at the July 13, 2017 meeting:
● Councilman Hook announced Reginald Conklin’s resignation as the dog control officer of Claverack. In a letter from Mr. Conklin read aloud at the meeting, Mr. Conklin said his resignation was effective as of July 13. “I want to thank the Town Board for appointing me eight and a half years ago,” Mr. Conklin wrote
● Councilwoman Lee said that she has previewed the new Town of Claverack website. “We all received a copy of our new website preview on June 19. At that point, Technology 4 All, our new website provider was going over background work and working with formatting and layout,” said Ms. Lee. Councilwoman Katy Cashen also said that the board is looking for a few photo submissions of “landscapes or historical places” for the website
● Councilwoman Lee discussed last month’s car accident on state Route 23 in Martindale, where two women had to be rescued from a car that flipped upside down into a pond believed to have been created by beavers. Ms. Lee said that the town contacted the state Department of Transportation in March and April this year regarding the body of water, hoping to avoid a potential danger. “A few days later, I get a call from a Rick Frick from NYS Department of Transportation alerting the town that they are working on the water issue along 23 and Martindale. He reminded me that the water lies on private property. I asked again if the state would consider putting guard rails there,” said Ms. Lee
● The board ended the meeting by briefly discussing the commercial and residential development proposed by Amedore Homes on Route 9H near the intersection with Route 66 and the PDD zoning law the company is requesting that the town put back in place. “There’s a lot of talk out in the community that this is a foregone conclusion, that a decision has been made. A decision has not been made. We are a long way from any type of decision, as far as I’m concerned. We are really at the very infancy of this exploration, I’ll call it, rather than decision making,” said Councilman Brian Keeler.
Monday, July 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the Claverack Court House, there will be a discussion on this situation with the town attorney and engineers at the workshop meeting. The meeting is open to the public but not be a opportunity for comments from the public.