EDITORIAL: You spent how much?

THERE’S SOMETHING to be said for an on-time state budget. Let’s applaud it with one-hand clapping. Adopting a timely budget is what we pay the governor and legislature to do. Now that they’ve done it, what has Columbia County gotten as our part of $175 billion?

• Governor Andrew Cuomo is pleased with legislation that was part of the budget, in particular the nominal “2% tax cap,” which limits the increase in the local property tax levies from year to year. That cap that is now “permanent.” Who knew it was temporary?

The cap puts a lid on school district spending and has given upstate taxpayers a break on the rate of growth in school spending. So far local districts have managed to cope. But some are stretched thin even with increases in state aid and declining enrollment. That won’t last, but neither will the cap. What legislators call a permanent law could suddenly becomes expendable if public opinion shifts. Overall, though, this is a measure that offers stability to school tax rates–the largest share of the property tax. For now anyway, it’s a workable deal. Read more…

EDITORIAL: The public prevails

THE ROELIFF JANSEN Community Library is one of the county’s cultural gems. It’s a place of learning and fun, a performance space, a gateway to explore whatever is on our mind without having to explain why.

Hard to imagine anyone would dislike a library, especially the Roe Jan Community Library. But somebody put a few bullet holes through the front entrance back in 2010. It happened at night a short time after the library building on state Route 22 opened. Nobody was there and the damage was quickly repaired.

The library has not experienced anything like that again. Like other libraries in the county, the Roe Jan Community Library staff and board have worked hard to fulfill the library’s mission of public service to residents of the Towns of Copake, Hillsdale and Ancram. The library thrives. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Where the resources are

CONSPIRACY THEORISTS, take note: the 2018 NRI for Columbia County has just been released. All 300 or so pages of it. It’s full of threats and other compelling topics. There’s one small problem, though. It’s full of things called facts.

The NRI is short for the “2018 Natural Resources Inventory of Columbia County, New York” prepared by Hudsonia Ltd., with contributions from the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program and coordinated by the Columbia Land Conservancy. The whole effort was under the direction of the Columbia County Environmental Management Council.

Deeply researched and full of photos and maps, the publication is meant, in its own words, as “a practical reference for residents, landowners, developers, municipal agencies, conservation NGOs, and others interested in understanding, using, and caring for the land and water of the county.” That’s a modest description of this up-to-the-minute portrait of the place we live. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Where do we put ’em?

THEY’LL BE SWARMING again before you know it. Not the bees. They’d be welcome. No, it’s the tourists and the second homers, taking up our parking spaces, breathing our relatively fresh air, spending money on our stuff and posting selfies that only draw more of them.

Now they don’t even go home at night. Not to their home or maybe it’s what they call their home, but it’s not their real home. It was better way back when, if they had to stay, you could herd them all into one or two big hotels so you knew where they were.

But now there’s Airbnb. Don’t try to pronounce it. If you still have dial-up internet service you may not know about this online service that matches people looking for a place to stay for a night, a weekend, or a week or two with people willing to rent a room or rooms to them on that basis. Short-term rentals, they call them. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Some ignorance can be cured

WHAT IF IGNORANCE was classified a disease? In that case, you could define public education as a partially effective immunization program. It lasts some folks for a lifetime. Others… not so much. But that would still leave all the untreated outbreaks of ignorance and ignorance relapses.

Naturally, not all cases of ignorance are treatable. Some sufferers resist help, preferring instead to remain carriers of this illness, infecting others who are not properly immunized. Leaders in the field of ignorance-ology would tell us there’s no single cure. They’d say that each case is unique except for mass ignorance, which is a form of hypnotism rather than a disease.

What if a powerful antidote to ignorance existed? It works but only if the sufferer voluntarily chooses to use it and only if that person determines the dosage and the length of treatment. What if the antidote wouldn’t bankrupt the patient before the cure took hold? We would welcome and support that antidote, wouldn’t we? Read more…