New wage boosts Copake camp costs

COPAKE—Bitter arctic cold is surging down from the north and a significant snowstorm is swooping up from the south.

What better time to think about summer camp… and how much it’s going to cost this year.

As part of Governor Cuomo’s incremental multi-year plan to raise the minimum wage, as of December 31, workers here now receive $11.10/hour.

At the January 10 Copake Town Board meeting, Supervisor Jeff Nayer noted that the pay rate for counselors at the town’s summer program will be going up this year in light of the new minimum wage. He estimated the increased pay rates will cost the town another $3,000 in counselor salaries this year.

He explained in a follow-up phone call with The Columbia Paper that in 2018, first-year counselors were paid $10.40/hour; counselors who returned for a second year were paid $10.75 and third-year counselors were paid $11.

In 2019 the base pay will start at $11.10.

Last year, the town employed eight counselors plus the summer program director and assistant director. The number of counselors hired is based on the number of youngsters who sign up to attend the program. Mr. Nayer said Copake does not limit the number of youngsters who can attend or where they come from. Last summer about 80 children signed up.

He noted that many towns do not have their own summer programs, so youngsters from those towns might come to Copake and towns that do have summer programs often have to limit the number of kids they can accommodate, so the overflow of kids might come to Copake.

Copake’s six-week, six-hours/day, Monday through Friday summer program for kids about 5 to 13 years of age, offers field trips, special recreation or entertainment programs and occasionally free pizza. The program is based at Copake Memorial Park.

Councilperson Kelly Miller-Simmons said at the meeting, the program has “great counselors, who come back year after year when they could be taking a job elsewhere. The program provides continuity with a nice group of counselors who work well together.”

Mr. Nayer agreed that the town has “a great program” and noted that at the “last minute we’re getting kids that can’t get in elsewhere.”

Currently, Copake residents pay $100 per child or a maximum of $250 for three or more children from one family to attend. Out-of-town residents pay $150 per child.

Mr. Nayer said he is not willing to foist added costs for counselor pay upon town resident families, but will instead charge out-of-town families $300 per child to cover costs.

I hate to do it,” he said.

In other business, the board discussed a letter from Gabrielle Tessler received last month, in which Ms. Tessler expresses concern over the significant increase in garbage strewn along the sides of main roads around the hamlet.

Ms. Tessler said whenever she takes a walk she always brings bags to collect garbage and often fills them and has to call for reinforcements.

This issue is relatively invisible from a moving car, but believe me when I tell you that what can be seen and found on foot is dramatic and rising at an alarming rate,” Ms. Tessler wrote.

She said she called the Sheriff’s Office and was told that many tickets are issued for littering but only when a person is caught in the act, which is only a fraction of the offenders.

She inquired about cameras “which would… cost up front, but ultimately produce money for our town….”

Mr. Nayer said the town does not have money for cameras and even if the town put “Do not litter” signs on every road it would not deter whoever is doing it. He noted that community organizations used to “adopt” roads and pick up trash along them, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Copake’s littering law calls for convicted littering offenders to pay fines up to $250.

Copake will offer Workforce Violence and Sexual Harassment Training for employees and board and committee members according to state mandate: January 23 and 26 at 9 a.m.; January 24 and 27 at 6 p.m. All sessions are at the Town Hall.

The Town Board’s next meeting is February 14 starting with a public hearing on a cable provider franchise agreement with Consolidated Communications at 6:45 p.m. Happy Valentines Day.

To contact Diane Valden email

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