Canaan joins neighbors for rescue squad service

CANAAN–The Town Board met on last week at Town Hall to act on the 2019 town budget and make amendments to the 2018 spending plan.

The total spending plan for the General and Highway funds, as posted on the town website, is $1.3 million, with a town-wide tax levy of $544,546. The tax increase is 1.58%.

Details are at www.canaannewyork.org.

Canaan is one of five towns looking at a 40-year transition in funding formula for rescue squad services offered by Chatham Rescue. Chatham, Ghent, New Lebanon and Canaan appear to be on board. Canaan’s cost could decrease from the current $187,509 to $174,000. The Town of Austerlitz reportedly has not yet reached a decision.

During the November 12 Canaan meeting it was noted that the state Department of Health mandates that every community must have an ambulance service.

In other business:

• The board approved payment of $57,470 into the New York State Retirement System in December. Supervisor Rick Keaveney noted that self-insurance can cause unplanned expenditures, such as a death this year and an employee’s medical care costing $45,000

• Amendments to the 2018 current year budget included $30,000 in “excess” sales tax revenue to bring the Highway Department capital budget up to $150,000. The board also approved the appointment of Stephanie Gupa for the senior lunch program and continuing Columbia Greene Humane Society for animal rescue and care as needed

• Supervisor Keaveney gave an update on possible acquisition of a property totaling 58 acres that would enhance town management of estuary waters, as well as affording an opportunity to preserve open space. It could provide ideal location for an overlook for the best approach to observing wildlife, whether birds or bears, with binoculars from a distance

• The supervisor also reported on a 10-point program involving the power utility company NYSEG and NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) that could qualify the town for grant money. One addition could be LED lighting in Town Hall with potential to reduce use of electricity by 40%. In addition, the state Rural Water Association study will have maps available by the end of the year

• The board heard that Election Day was busy from morning to evening, with 750 voters at the polls and 140 absentee ballots for a total of 890 votes cast out of 1,100 eligible voters. Many workers took part. Average turnout in Canaan is about 500

• Superintendent of Highways Bernie Meyer gave an update on a variety of projects, including the long delayed bridge project. It took a call to the state Public Service Commission to get the Canaan project on the radar. A utility pole was moved on Thursday and wires placed on Friday. Superintendent Meyer noted that 6 of 45 days have had sunshine. He said, “Canaan has swimming holes, not potholes” along with uprooted trees and other hazards. He also reported that a new battery powered chainsaw works well and produces no gas fumes

• The board discussed making changes in solar energy guidelines and rules with a focus on permitting solar energy at commercial properties to sell power back at up to 150% of energy produced. Residential properties with barns or similar structures might be included. The board wants to avoid solar cell farms while still encouraging use of solar energy.

The next board meeting will be December 10, 2018 at Town Hall, 1647 County Route 5 at 7 p.m.

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