County schools receive $4.5M aid increase

CHATHAM—Tentative school aid figures for all public school districts in the state were released Tuesday, March 31, as the legislature began passing the bills that make up the 2009-10 state budget. All districts in Columbia County will see increases in state aid under the proposal and the combined increase for the county is $4.5 million, thanks in part to assistance in the federal economic recovery act introduced by President Obama.
     Democrats, who control the Assembly and the Senate, scrambled Tuesday, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to adopt the budget ahead of the April 1 deadline set by the state constitution. Republicans, meanwhile, criticized the return to the practice of previous years, which saw budget details worked out in private by the governor and the leaders of the two houses of the legislature.
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Taconic Hills plans budget that lowers spending

CRARYVILLE—Following a public meeting this evening, Wednesday, April 1, the Taconic Hills School District is scheduled to adopt a budget proposal for the 2009-10 school year that reduces the district tax levy.
     Wednesday morning the legislature in Albany was still rushing to approve a state budget agreed to by the governor and legislative leaders, and the delay has left local school districts stuck between a rock and a hard place. Concerned about the state’s huge deficit and widespread economic hardship, Taconic Hills district officials made major cuts in their proposal, offering voters a stripped down budget with a tax levy decrease of 1.91%. Even if voters were to reject the proposal next month, contractual obligations would not permit much in the way of further spending cuts, officials said.
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Copake board, county Dems slam ‘farmer’ ruling

COPAKE—The outcry has intensified against the recent state Department of Agriculture and Markets opinion that waste hauler Salvatore Cascino’s activity at his 300-acre property qualifies as a type of farming.
     Mr. Cascino owns a Bronx-based waste-hauling business and has a 12-year history of violating town, state and federal laws on his Copake Valley Farm along the east side of Route 22. Witnesses recently testified under oath that they observed large trucks repeatedly dumping construction debris and what appeared to be trash on Mr. Cascino’s property in Copake.
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Race for Congress rests on absentees

CHATHAM—The outcome of the special election for Congress in the 20th District is too close to call even after all polls in the 10-county district reported, according to Albany area TV stations.
     Preliminary results showed Democrat Scott Murphy leading Republican James Tedisco by 59 votes, 77,344 to 77, 285, but there are reportedly more than 9,000 absentee ballots that must still be counted, and the deadline for receiving those ballots has not yet expired. Ballots from military personnel serving overseas do not have to arrive at local boards of elections for two weeks.
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Chatham has ‘poop scoop’ almost in the bag

CHATHAM—The Village Board is one step closer to creating a “poop scoop” law.
     At a public hearing Thursday, March 26, trustees discussed the wording of the law. The sticking point concerns whether the measure should require dog owners walking their pets in the village to remove their pets’ waste rather than allow owners to dispose of it in village garbage cans.
     Trustee Paul Chapman said he didn’t want the village public works department employees having to deal with waste. But also said he and DPW workers would rather have the waste in public garbage cans than on the lawns of public spaces, where crews can hit it while mowing the grass.
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