Chatham Town Board fills seat, keeps tax rise below 1%

CHATHAM–The Town Board appointed Michael Richardson to the open seat on the board at their meeting last week. Mr. Richardson will serve out the term of Landra Haber, who resigned from the board in October. The seat will be up for election again in November 2019.

Mr. Richardson had been serving on the town Zoning Board of Appeals, which now has a vacancy due to his appointment to the Town Board. He is also on the town Citizen Finance and Planning Committee. He is a budget and labor relations consultant who has helped both the town and the Village of Chatham with their budgeting processes.

Mr. Richardson lives in the Village of Chatham and owns land in another part of the town.

Supervisor Maria Lull said there were two applicants for the position on the board.

The board also approved a $3-million town budget for 2019 at the November 15 meeting. Supervisor Lull thanked the town’s department heads, Budget Clerk Tammy Shaw and board members for creating a budget that has “less than a 1% tax increase.” In her statement to the board about the budget, Ms. Lull said that the budget had “been achieved primarily from increases in sales tax revenue and responsible spending.”

She said that since she took office as supervisor in 2016, the town has kept the budget below the state mandated tax cap and the town has been able to build up funds in its reserves, which means the state has removed the “financial stress rating” it gave to the town when reserves were low.

“I am very proud to report that we have been able to make these major investments in our community and government with less than a 1% tax increase and in full compliance with the state-mandated tax cap, reducing the use of fund balances and pulling the town safely out of the category of financial fiscal stress,” she said, reading from a prepared statement.

She went on to say that the 2019 town budget, “while fiscally conservative, will enable this town board to continue the momentum we began in 2016.” She mentioned the 2% salary increases in the 2019 budget for all town employees except for members of the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Assessment Review, and Town Board and the town supervisor.

The board did discuss the issues that some employees are having with the new, high-deductible health insurance plan the town has switched to. Mr. Richardson said that the new plan allowed the town to budget the pay increases. He stressed that people on the plan needed to wait for EOB (explanation of benefits) forms before paying bills and that “these plans have plan administrators” that employees needed to contact with concerns. He said that as a member of the board he would look into the specifics of the issues employees have raised.

Also at the meeting:

• The board approved sending a letter to the town Planning Board supporting the request by the State Police for a subdivision of land next to Town Hall. The town is donating three acres to the state for a new state trooper station to be built at the site

• Councilman Kevin Weldon, who is on the town’s Climate Smart Committee, said that signs will be put up in the municipal parking lot next to the Tracy Memorial in the Village of Chatham alerting drivers that there is an electric car charging station in the parking lot. The town received a state grant to put in the charger. Mr. Weldon said that usage of the charger had gone up weekly since it was put in earlier this year. The Town of Ghent also received a grant and installed a charger in the parking lot in the village near the Kinderhook Bank.

The next board meeting will be Thursday, December 20 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email moc.r1544434606epapa1544434606ibmul1544434606oc@el1544434606adsae1544434606te1544434606

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