same time, Jane Todd of the Shandaken Area Revitalization Plan (SHARP)
Committee, and Joan Lawrence-Bauer, director of the Margaretville-Arkville
Project, each noted difficulties they’ve run into getting projects
through to completion in recent years, as well as the increasing need
for housing help in the Catskills and Hudson Valley regions.
Lawrence-Bauer, in fact, went so far as to suggest that the region’s
larger developers, including her former employers at Crossroads Ventures,
should look to creating more hosuing for middle income people than
their current high-end projects. The principles at Crossroads include
Shandaken-based Dean Gitter. of the Emerson Inn and proposed Belleayre
Resort, and Gitter’s development partner Kenneth Pasternak,
a former Wall Street magnate now under investigation from the SEC
who recently announced his own 30-home development for the Delaware
County town of Middletown.
But complicating the recent interviews came a simultaneous announcement
from Todd, following an October 4 in-depth interview with her, that
she had actually resigned her position as SHARP Committee Executive
Director, a job she’s held 13 years, as of October 1 and been
replaced by her former Administrative Assistant Buffy Kibe.
Todd, a longtime Shandaken resident and current member of the town
board there, said this week that her reasons for leaving the position
she inherited from former Executive Director Gladys Gilbert of Olive
“I have eight grandchildren and I’m going to be 60!,”
she said with a laugh.” I’m just done.”
“We just built 30 units, 16 for seniors and 14 for families,
that sold out immediately when we listed them… all to local
residents,” Lawrence-Bauer said of M-ARK’s Mountain Laurel
Gardens project, started 12 years earlier, before the news about Todd’s
resignation was out. “The thing people never realize about these
projects is that you don’t just snap your fingers and they happen.
We didn’t have any NIMBY problems,” she added, referring
to the increasingly common term for “Not In My Back Yard”
challenges to projects.
Lawrence-Bauer said that Mountain Laurel’s difficulties came
about when funding agencies kept sending back the project’s
marketing plans for changes, saying they didn’t feel the need
was there for a planned 30 senior residencies. Eventually, M-ARK succeeded
by changing the mix to include 14 family apartments.
Now, Lawrence-Bauer added, the agency was beginning work on a new
project for more such apartments, realizing the local need for low-income
housing was increasing as the local real estate market continued rising
“This nonsense that people will come up to take advantage of
such housing from the city is nonsense. We had a working list of 80
locals we made our selections from,” she added. “You do
your marketing plan, then market to who you want. We have two seniors
from Queens, but they’re here because their children live here.”
Part of the problem with such projects, Lawrence-Bauer further noted,
is that state and federal agencies want to fund larger projects. No
one can go less than 24 units, she said. As a result, she’s
looking to put M-ARK’s next such project into another nearby
community, either Fleischmanns, Andes or Grand Gorge, once their “sense
of crisis” can be determined, charted, and fit into the sorts
of marketing info the funders need to activate such projects.
She said that what Woodstock is being offered, via the Woodstock Commons
package put together by RUPCO at the behest of the town’s Affordable
Housing Committee, invaluable, given that the hardest work –
the funding – is already solidly in place.
“The bottom line is that we all need affordable housing up here.
There’s no question about that,” Lawrence-Bauer said.
“If Woodstock doesn’t do it now, they’ll lose it
Todd, who operated three completely-full, wait-listed affordable housing
complexes in Olive and Shandaken while director of SHARP, said she
too had been finding great need in the communities she serves, especially
for families looking for more than one bedroom. More importantly,
she sees such need not only not going away but getting worse over
Asked whether talk in Woodstock about outlying towns being affordable
was true, Todd said her towns of Olive and Shandaken were too far
away… and not any cheaper, really. She would like to start new
projects but is having problems finding sites that match requirements
for centralized services and gas and water hook-ups, if possible.
As a result, she said that SHARP, as with RUPCO and M-ARK, is having
to rely more and more on references to private subsidized rentals,
although even those are increasingly hard to come by.
“These projects just don’t happen overnight,” Todd
added, echoing what Lawrence-Bauer had said. “The process is
very, very difficult.”
Todd described how she found funding, a number of years ago, to add
five units to SHARP’s Tongore Pines’ 19 in Olivebridge.
Got all the requisite zoning changes and planning board approvals
in place. Then got hit with an Article 78 lawsuit that held her up
long enough to “raise the construction costs 40 percent.”
“Despite having gotten our funding in place we had to abandon
our plans and give back the money,” Todd said. The net effect
was a cooling of all such projects for her area for a spell.
Lawrence-Bauer said that apart from affordable housing for seniors
and low-income members of a community, she’s starting to worry
about other problems with middle-income housing.
“No one wants the middle now,” she said. There’s
high end and low end real estate, she added, but nothing for the area’s
aging population looking to move out of their homes, not wanting to
take on the high cost of renovating. No cluster housing that area
teachers or nurses, service people and workers can take advantage
“We’ve now got Kenny Pasternak announcing he’s going
to build 30 high end homes in the $750,000 range,” she said,
mentioning one of the major backers of developer Dean Gitter’s
Belleayre Resort project, for whom she once served as a publicist.
“Dean should be told he needs to build some middle income housing
if he wants to do what he plans.”
Todd noted that she and RUPCO had been part of Ulster County Housing
Consortium talks about growing housing needs. But Lawrence-Bauer said
a more regional approach may be needed to really achieve something.
“We’ve got Dean at the high end and RUPCO at the low end,”
she said. “But the reality is we have to look at all our housing
needs across the board and create a balance.”
That, she said, was happening in her base-town of Margaretville now.
And, given RUPCO’s plans, was within reach in Woodstock.
But more needed doing.
Some larger entity, be it the Catskill Watershed Corporation or a
state or federal legislator’s office, needed to pick up the
“It certainly would be the right thing to do,” said Lawrence-Bauer.
Meanwhile, SHARP founding directors Lonnie and Ruth Gale of Phoenicia
noted this week that their agency was originally started in the late
1970s as a means of helping assure rebuilding of the Route 28 corridor’s
railroad line, and the branched out into senior and affordable housing
projects when the private not-for-profit’s board hired former
Eleanor Roosevelt consultant Elise Miller as its first director. Miller
used government connections to not only build Shandaken Apartments
in Phoenicia, but also helped gain the town of Shandaken a number
of key grants that helped its revival.
Her success was such, in fact, that later Town Supervisor Neil Grant
tried interfering with SHARP’s choice of Gilbert as its second
director, and when told that neither e nor the Olive town government
had any say in the organization’s inner decisions, cut substantial
funding to it. When Todd replaced Gilbert, she was instrumental at
finishing a number of projects, especially Olive-based Tongore Pines,
that had been stalled for years.
But when Todd ran for and won a town board seat, a split on the SHARP
board occurred between those thinking such actions represented a conflict
of interest, and those that supported Todd’s every move.
Todd said this week that the achievement she remains most proud of
is the development and success of Tongore Pines. Other achievements
she touted include the purchase and renovation of Church Street Apartments
in Phoenicia, an existing 4 Unit Rental Building, with a $25,000 low
interest Federal loan and a conventional mortgage of $65,000 from
Wilber Bank. The units have been rehabilitated to provide decent,
affordable rentals, one of which is handicapped accessible.
SHARP Committee President Ernie Gardiner of Boiceville said this week
that he was planning a special tribute to Todd to take place in the
coming weeks, and noted that the decision to hire Kibe as her replacement
was “unanimous” and did not require any advertising for
the job. He added that political pressures had hurt Todd over the
years, while the Gales noted that the entry of politics into SHARP
matters had led to their resignation from the board they helped found
several years ago.
They and others have questioned whether the organization, which has
become increasingly partisan via the viewpoints expressed by Kibe
and others in local letters columns in recent years, will be as adept
at fundraising in what many are expecting to be a much-changed state
and national political climate over the coming years.
Does The Creek Behave?
The costs of forming the district and designing, permitting
and constructing the infrastructure are funded pursuant to the Memorandum
of Agreement with the City of New York pursuant to a the Block Grant
Supervisor Robert Cross Jr. said that the block grant is also paying
for all the engineering and attorneys’ fees associated with
the project and includes a $1.5 million contingency fund. The fund,
he added, may be used to help landowners pay for the costs of hooking
into the system, but only if it is not used up on cost overruns during
construction of the project.
According to Attorney Kevin Young, the Town will not incur any expense
in the formation of the proposed district and the construction of
the public improvements to be constructed within the district. If
the Block Grant is insufficient to fund the entire project as designed,
he said, the Town Board may have to reduce the size of the plant or
the sewer collection system or make such other modification to the
design as necessary to bring the project within the Block Grant amount
and/or seeking additional funding from the City of New York.
During the process to form the Sewer District, the Town Board reserves
the right to modify the boundaries of the proposed district to address
the concerns raised during the public comment period and to serve
the best interest of the Town.
Reaction to the plan moving ahead was strong. Mike Ricciardella, a
Phoenicia businessman, was furious over the way the project has been
planned, claiming that some landowners got sweetheart deals while
others got the shaft.
Ricciardella and other business owners like Vincent and Susan Bernstein,
fear crippling annual costs to operate the system. Current estimates
show the total annual cost to be $350,00 a year with New York City
paying about $318,000 of that amount. The rest, critics say, must
be paid by only the handful of businesses that line the small main
Residences, on the other hand, will only pay $100 a year.
A copy of the Engineer's Report and Plan, Service Area Map, Narrative
Description and a detailed explanation of the costs to each residential
and non-residential landowner are now in the Town Clerk's office and
available for public inspection.
A public hearing on the plan is set for November 6th.
seeking a more significant downsizing of the Belleayre Resort project
than Gitter has proposed, including local Congressman Maurice Hinchey
and representatives from the ad hoc Catskill Preservation Coaliton
of eleven national and regional environmental organizations, see Steinberg’s
September 19 letter in much different terms from the developer.
As did Steinberg himself, in an exclusive interview about his recent
decision to hold off a decision until an ongoing adjudication and
review permitting process involving Gitter’s proposal is completed
in the coming years.
The Belleayre Resort proposal, which originally called for the creation
of two high-end hotels, time share condominiums, and private home
enclaves surrounding a pair of mountain top golf courses along the
ridgeline adjacent to the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center,
has been awaiting a state Department of Environmental Conservation
decision on a series of appeals made by the developer to a DEC Judge’s
decision that a dozen key environmental issues involved in its review
go to trial-like adjudication. Albany insiders say that that decision,
handed down by DEC Commissioner Denise Sheehan to an Assistant Commissioner
because of possible conflict-of-interest concerns, will likely not
occur until after the upcoming November election, when it is expected
that a new Democratic administration will replace current Governor
George Pataki’s appointees.
“As you know, over the past few months the Environmental Protection
Agency (EP) has participated in the public dialogue about the project.
In press statements and correspondence, EPA has summarized its previously
stated concerns about site runoff during construction that would adversely
affect the Catskill watershed, which is already prone to turbidity
spikes,” Steinberg wrote, referring to letters written to Congressmen
and other officials in which a preference for a “No Build”
alternative proposed by Hinchey was stated.
Gitter suggested, in a press release released while Steinberg was
making an August 29 visit to his proposed resort sites, that Steinberg
had been considering reversing that decision.
“EPA has explained that a reduced scale project limited to the
western section of the site could alleviate our concerns,” Steinberg
continued in this week’s letter to Gitter. “EPA has indicated
support for discussion among interested parties to achieve a reduced
scale development, and has expressed support for project revisions
that would eliminate development on the eastern site.”
As for Gitter’s proposed downsizing, made via a verbal presentation
at Steinberg’s offices this past summer arranged by Republican
Congressman John Sweeney, who has since stepped back from the process,
the EPA official was cordial, acknowledging its “significantly
smaller footprint” and offering “initial feedback.”
The new proposal Gitter has been putting forth calls for the substitution
of a state-of-the-art spa for one of the two golf courses and the
elimination of approximately 100 housing units.
“EPA continues to elkieve that the no-build alternative for
the eastern Big Indian site would provide the greatest assurance that
water quality in the Esopus Creek watershed would not be impaired,”
Steinberg continued, while noting that the reduced-scale proposal
could reduce “the risk of adverse impacts.”
But then Steinberg added that “additional review will be necessary
to evaluate more fully the water quality implications of the revised
project,” something that would be handled as part of the ongoing
SEQRA (environmental quality) and New York City Department fo Environmental
Protection permitting review processes.
“Through the State and City review processes, issues such as
potential induced growth and site runoff will continue to receive
scrutiny,” Steinberg noted, bringing up a sore subject raised
by local governmental agencies in support of the Gitter project in
recent years. He then specifically suggested that Gitter’s Crossroads
Ventures start looking into additional use of conservation easements,
construction phasing, and a heightened role for greater regulatory
agency oversight of the entire building of the project to speed things
“Our response,” wrote Gitter spokesperson Paul Rakov when
sent a copy of the Steinberg letter, which the EPA made available
to the local press immediately. “We are encouraged by Mr. Steinberg's
letter and his clear ‘wait and see’ attitude. Our engineers
have already conducted an initial briefing with the technical staffs
of the EPA, DEP and DEC, all of whom responded positively. We will
continue to fill in more of the technical details to Mr. Steinberg
and the other regulatory agencies in the coming days and weeks.”
Almost immediately, statements also came in from the CPC and Hinchey.
“CPC welcomes EPA Regional Administrator Steinberg’s statement
that the ‘no build’ alternative on the east side will
provide the greatest assurance that water quality in the Esopus Creek
and the New York City Watershed will not be further impaired,”
wrote CPC Spokesperson Marc Gerstman, an attorney for the Natural
Resources Defense Council. “CPC concurs with Regional Administrator
Steinberg’s position recognizing that the revised Gitter proposal
must be reviewed through the full New York State SEQRA process. The
SEQRA process will have to consider, as DEC Judge Wissler directed,
the induced growth impacts of the project as well as site run off,
natural resource impacts and, significantly, the impacts on the Catskill
Forest Preserve. Significantly, CPC also agrees with EPA Regional
Administrator Steinberg that a proposed project of this magnitude
could effect and must be considered in the context of next year’s
review of New York city’s Filtration Avoidance Determination
Hinchey, on a similar track, spoke about his own proposal, made a
year ago, for the project’s eastern portion to be eliminated.
“I am encouraged by the EPA's letter regarding the proposed
Belleayre Resort because it clearly discusses the importance of protecting
the New York City Watershed from such a project and highlights the
clear evidence that the proposal as was first presented would have
a severe negative impact on the watershed,” said Hinchey. "If
this original Belleayre Resort plan were ever to go forward as presented,
there is no question that the EPA would inevitably require the construction
of a filtration plant for New York City since the water supply would
be so adversely affected by runoff from construction. Currently, the
watershed is clean enough that New York City doesn't need a filtration
system. Such a system would cost $8 billion to construct and hundreds
of millions of dollars annually to maintain. Not only would New York
City need a water filtration system, but other municipalities that
draw water from the aqueduct, such as New Paltz and High Falls, would
need a filtration plant.
"I offered my scaled-down development proposal for just the west
side of the original project site in order to safeguard the watershed.
I am very pleased that the EPA once again stated its support for a
such an alternative,” Hinchey added. “While a new proposal
is apparently in the works, as far as I know there is nothing in writing
at this point that goes into any detail. Regardless, we will continue
to fight to protect the watershed and shield it from any negative
impact that development of the eastern half of the project would bring."
Told about the various responses to his letter on Tuesday, the day
of its release, Steinberg laughed and tried to clarify his points.
“The important thing to remember is that the SEQRA process is
there. They have to go through that anyway and complete what’s
been started,” Steinberg said, noting for the record that he
was not “the chief zoning officer of the region. My interest
is that the project not effect the turbidity of New York City’s
water.” Other than that, his role was merely one “of oversight.”
“Everyone has to run through their processes here. I don’t
want my agency making any findings or decisions in a vacuum,”
Steinberg continued. The question, he said, was now going to be whether
the project had been scaled down enough to answer all the questions
that will be raised during adjudication. Otherwise, he said, his agency’s
preference was for building only the western half of the proposed
After asking to hear Gitter’s response to his letter again,
Steinberg said, “I want to make it clear. This letter is not
an indication of approval or disapproval. It’s a statement that
it is necessary for us first to have all the findings that arise through
full review before us.”
Asked to clarify a statement in his letter about ensuring that the
Gitter proposes meets the requirement of a new Filtration Avoidance
Determination due from the EPA this coming April, 2007, Steinberg
said that it was unlikely review of the Belleayre Resort proposal
would be anywhere near finished by that time. What he was suggesting,
he added, was that anything that came up that might run counter to
that FAD would “be taken into serious account.”
“We’ve being very careful,” Steinberg said at several
points, noting that the disparate views of his letter meant he must
have done something right. “I deal with controversial issues
all the time and am not afraid of making a decision.”
Finally, asked about its own response to Steinberg’s letter,
and Gitter’s implication that his new proposal was currently
under City review, NYC DEP spokesperson Ian Michaels said, simply,
“We have not yet received a proposal and when we do, we will
fully review it.”
looks quite fetching, despite the greenish lump growing out of her
cheek. She tells me about a previous scene, where she trying to kill
someone: “All my Yiddish and Hebrew left me! I couldn’t
think of a thing to say but ‘Didja eat?’ Then I got bashed
in the head.”
And so it goes on the set of the micro-budget short Night of the Living
Jews, written and directed by Oliver Noble of Accord, with Sam Allen-Falconi
of Krumville as cinematographer and co-producer. The film involves
a plot to poison matzos, and a family terrorized by hordes of Hasidic
zombies. But not to worry, one girl survives.
Sam’s father Tim Allen, who, as an arborist, can normally be
found up a tree somewhere, is tending to several smoldering fires.
His son Sam is staring intently at the camera monitor. A smoke machine
cranks; smoke billows, then thins, delicately weaving through leaves
like so many snakes. “I’m liking this… there! That’s
the shot,” declares Sam. The kid’s got the eye. “I
learned to shoot in high school,” he says, “and from going
on shoots with [cinematographer] Mark Benjamin, and also with Roy.”
Roy Gumpel, in the tradition of multi-tasking on low budget films,
is co-producer, gaffer, creative consultant and set photographer.
Oliver learned filmmaking during his high school independent studies.
Valerie Fanarjian is the whirlwind producer that quarterbacked the
ideas of these two Roundout high-schoolers into a full-fledged, albeit
shoestring, production. She zooms around like the Tasmanian Devil,
doing, well, everything. I ask if I can mention the SAG actors, since
this is a non-SAG production. “Sure!” she says. “We’re
going for the Olympic record in All Known Law Breakage on this production!”
And where did she acquire the skills to produce a film? “I worked
for Philippe Petit [Shokan’s famous funambulist], I run a sawmill
[Boiceville Lumber]. Heck, I could run this country, since Bush is
clearly on permanent vacation. Producing a film? Phssh!”
The phrase “it takes a village” describes the set, which
is also Oliver’s home. In fact, almost everyone involved lives
in the surrounding communities. Krumville author Kim Wozencraft (Rush,
The Devil’s Backbone) and artist Steve Heller of Woodstock’s
Fabulous Furniture were a pair of flesh-eating zombies. Phillip Levine,
a Woodstock poet, was also in the film. Tonight’s shoot is the
death scene of the head rabbi zombie, played by Laurent Rejto, co-director
of the Woodstock Film Festival. His son Adam Blaustein also stars
in the movie.
The woods are littered with props, including a severed pig head, unlit
cigarette stuck in its grin. A zombie strolls by and quips, “No
animals were abused in the making of this film.” An earlier
shot used a live pig, then Fleisher’s Meats donated the pig
head. Local businesses such as Winchell’s Corners and Bread
Alone donated to the food table. Woodstock gallery owner and main
zombie Bahram Faroughi loaned the camera. But for the most part, when
I ask where they got financing, I get answers like, “It’s
a Jewish production, there is no money!”
Two guys are placing a plank on top of a pile of rocks, where Rebbe
Zombie Laurent has his final battle. They have to lift the plank to
levitate him. “No storyboards?” I ask. Nope. “No
run-throughs, no rehearsals on this stunt?” Nope. Phil Dorling,
from Woodstock, the art department and props guy, rigs a gun to an
eggbeater. He demonstrates how churning the eggbeater makes a cool
clackity-clack noise. What’s it for? “I dunno,”
says Phil, “It’s just cool.” You gotta love the
chutzpah. This is the pure joy of ad-hoc creativity.
How did Oliver talk his parents into letting him take over the family
home? “I’m their retirement plan,” he says with
confidence. Henri Falconi, Assistant Everything on the production
adds: “It’s kind of a ‘loonies take over the asylum’
production.” Inside, Oliver’s dad Charles is making dinner
for the zombies. A dozen of them sit around waiting to be fed, looking
horrific and bored, including one sporting a tiny Hitler mustache.
Why did Charles let his kid take over the roost? “He promised
me a cottage on his estate when he makes it big,” he quips.
A glance in Oliver’s bedroom reveals posters for The Ring and
The Exorcist. The overheard comments in the kitchen-slash-wardrobe
are priceless: “I get eaten tonight, d’you?” “I’m
the only one who lives,” sighs Sierra DeCrosta. “I heard
a goose-stepping zombie is coming. Hey, is there such a thing as zombie
Torah walk?” “I’m just gonna turn my shoe sideways
and drag that leg,” says zombie Dash Stratton.
I ask cast and crew if they’re worried about how the film’s
provocative title might perceived. “Think of it as a Barbara
Streisand Hebrew National Hotdog kinda thing,” says one zombie.
Another adds, “It’s a Jewish zombie noir comedy homage
to Night of the Living Dead.”
“We’re making a funny movie with no deep meaning,”
says Charles Noble, “and we hope it’s funny enough that
it isn’t hijacked by someone looking to find something offensive
in it. The thought crossed my mind that this is potentially incendiary,
but as long as it’s funny, it’ll be fine.”
Zombie movies have a tradition of tropes and riffs. If it’s
a Beach Blanket Bingo Zombie movie, the zombies will be in bikinis
and slathered in ghoulish sunscreen. If it’s Speedway Zombie,
the zombies will be dripping with car parts and slinging hubcaps.
In Night of the Living Jews, the zombies have bekishes, tichels, payos,
tsitses and yarmulkes, and are killed with cheese and bacon. No offense
given, none taken. Consider the Broadway hit The Producers, with its
“Springtime for Hitler” musical numbers.
I head outside just in time to watch the magnificently berobed zombie
Laurent as his side curls twirl (literally two guys spinning attached
strings) so he can levitate like a perverse doppelganger to the Flying
Nun. His Freddie Krueger claws clutch at his chest, his kutchma-slash-Viking
helmet falls as he screams, with great thespian pizzazz, “I
think I’m gonna plotz!” and crashes to the ground.
A Tragedy On Route 28
Two passengers in the car
were pronounced dead at the scene and a third died later at Columbia
Memorial Hospital in Hudson, police said. The driver of the car and
another passenger were hospitalized - one in critical condition at
Albany Medical Center, the other in stable condition at St. Francis
State Police at Kingston announced the identities of the three persons
on Monday after being assisted by representatives of the Chinese Embassy
in locating family members in China. Killed were Hui Wang, 22, of
Cambridge, Mass., and Yuan Li, and Zhenying Gu, both 26 and from Manhattan.
Injured in the same vehicle were Yanming Fang, 28, the operator of
the car, and Wentao Mo, 25, both of Manhattan.
The two people in the SUV - 67-year old Catherine Whitelaw, who was
driving, and 88-year old Florence Palmer, both of Lanesvilkle - suffered
non-life-threatening injuries and were admitted to Benedictine Hospital
in Kingston in stable condition, police said.
Police said the accident occurred when Fang’s vehicle crossed
into the opposite lane on Route 28 and struck the other car head-on.
The impact of the crash caused the SUV, a Ford Expedition, to catch
fire, but not until after its occupants were out of the vehicle. The
car, a Mazda, was totaled, and Regan said its roof was removed by
rescuers trying to reach the five occupants.
The cause of the accident was still under investigation as of press
time but police said there was no indication of drugs or alcohol involved.
Both vehicles were equipped with airbags that opened when the crash
Route 28 was closed in both directions from Shokan to Boiceville for
several hours after the crash, with traffic detoured onto Upper Boiceville
Road, which intersects Route 28 in both hamlets, during the closure.
State police were assisted by police from the towns of Olive, Shandaken
and Woodstock; the New York City Department of Environmental Protection
police; the Olive Fire Department; and several ambulance squads.
The crash was the area’s deadliest since a two-car collision
on a straight stretch of road in the Shandaken hamlet of Allaben in
April 1994 that claimed seven lives. Four adults and a child died
at the scene, and a child and a teenager died in the days that followed.
Two people survived the crash, which police blamed on “driver
fatigue or driver inattention.”
The Budget Is
In terms of taxes, the
full amounts for appropriations have been offset by a predicted
unexpended funds balance of $586,100, a significant rise from last
year’s $471,500, which dropped from the previous year’s
figure. The total amount to be raised by taxes for the coming year
is expected to be $3,031,930, up from the current year’s $2,899,183.
Cross has said the budget hike is in the 7 percent range.
The most interesting hikes in the budget seem to come in salaries
and contractual expenses. A general cost-of-living pay hike of 4
percent was applied across the board, although Cross has given himself
a $5,000 raise to $33,931 while Highway Superintendent Keith Johnson
will be at $42,649, higher than the $36,000 figure he was hired
at, and the $40,000 his long-serving predecessor, Dickie Merwin,
made at the end of his tenure. The supervisor’s budget will
be at $108,739 for the coming year, versus a total of $74,832 for
The town’s attorney line item rises from $20,000 to $30,000
for the coming year.
As has become normal in recent year’s, the town’s police
budget rises over $16,000, $2,000 more than it jumped last year.
Other areas that have seen large increases in recent years either
continued incremental rises, as with insurance and benefits, or
rose in smaller allotments than past years, as evidenced in the
ambulance service, and water and lighting district costs.
The Phoenicia Library is seeking a $28,000 increase, as a separate
ballot item on November 7, to cover rising utility costs and dropping
fund allocations form the county, which has faced severe budget
crunches for the past two years.
Cross has said that an $18,000 item for a settlement payment to
New York State as part of its tax settlement will be more than offset
in the coming years.
Helping offset the hikes in spending are rises in the town General
Fund’s estimated revenues from a current year figure of $473,198
to an anticipated $500,713 for the coming year, and a rise from
a figure of $80,215 in the highway budget to $83,418 for the current
But all figures are tentative and up for both questioning, defending
and changing at the November 9 budget hearing, set to take place
after election day to avoid politicization.
Copies of the budget should be available at the town clerk’s
office, and maybe even online sometime soon.