Lull thanks clerks for response to early taxpayer rush

CHATHAM – Town Supervisor Maria Lull gave a “State of Town” address at the Town Board meeting on, January 18, the first regular board meeting of 2018.

“After 24 months in office, I am pleased to announce that our town is in a sound state; it is energized and vibrant, and it adheres to good governance practices,” she said at the meeting.

She reviewed projects and programs the board had worked on throughout the last year, including improvements at Crellin Park, securing grants for an electric car charging station in the municipal parking lot jointly owned by the Village of Chatham and the town; and receiving state approval for traffic lights on the Albany Turnpike Bridge in East Chatham, a project she said should be completed this year.

Ms. Lull also mentioned a $29,000 grant that the town received with Trout Unlimited for the Green Brook Road Stream Crossing Survey Evaluation and Prioritization Project. And she said the town Highway Department paved 1.94 miles of road, put gravel on 17.5 miles of road and installed 14 culverts, among other projects.

Looking ahead, she said the board plans to approve the new zoning code soon. The board will host planning consultant Nan Stolzenburg at their February 1 workshop meeting to review the next phase in preparing the proposed zoning laws. Ms. Stolzenburg has been working with a town committee on the proposed zoning law changes. The workshop meeting will be at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

Ms. Lull also said that in 2018 the town would get a new website and that all department heads and Town Board members will receive town email accounts. The current town website has a hosting issues and was down the day of the meeting.

The supervisor praised Town Clerk Beth Ann Rippel and the town’s deputy clerk for handling the hundreds of people who came to the town in last week of December and early January to pay their 2018 property taxes early.

She said the clerks “responded splendidly to the governor’s directive” that allowed citizens to make early payments on 2018 property tax bills. The directive made it possible for some taxpayers to deduct their 2018 town and county property taxes on their 2017 federal tax returns. The deduction will be capped starting in 2018 under the new federal tax law.

According to the clerk’s office, between December 29, 2017 and January 2, 2018, there were 378 transactions posted, totaling $1,155,077.22; nearly $122,000 of that amount was paid online.

“We anticipate a few wrinkles in the weeks to come as mortgage companies try to pay tax bills for escrowed customers who have ‘prepaid’ their 2018 tax bills,” Ms. Lull said in her address.

After the meeting, Ms. Rippel said, “We hadn’t anticipated the volume” of people who came in to pay. “In the past, we’ve had 1 or 2,” she said, compared to over 300 this year.

Ms. Lull ended her address by saying, “Through the use of multiple committees, we bring together diverse opinions to implement positive and interactive relationships with the town’s residents and we are committed to help all our residents gain a greater understanding of their municipal government.”

She thanked the volunteers on town committees and commended town officials and employees, saying, “Your support and engagement, will ensure that the town will continue on a course of stability, success, and prosperity.”

The next regular Town Board meeting will be Thursday, February 15 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall on Route 295.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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