on the News
To The Wire
But the good news, Cross added, is that he's been
able to hold the expected budget hike for the coming year, jumping in
similar towns around the state due to rate hikes for everything from
gas and heating oil prices to workers benefits and other mandated amounts,
to under 6 percent.
According to the supervisor, things such as a 12 percent hike in disability
and hospitalization payment requirements from the town, along with a
major loss in revenue from town justice fees, made his first budget
a difficult balancing act.
The end result comes in far below neighboring Woodstock's anticipated
11 percent spending hike, although higher than Olive's 3 percent rise.
The latter staid low, in large part, due to the use of a $250,000 unexpended
balance rolled over from the current year, as well as the town's benefits
from getting over 50 percent of its tax levy paid for by New York City,
whose Ashokan Reservoir represents the town's largest tax parcel.
The biggest cut that Cross has chosen to make for the coming year, so
far, has been a drop in anticipated town legal fees from this year's
budgeted figure of $35,000 to a $20,000 for 2005.
Cross said he hoped to publish the basics of the budget, including a
rationale, in the next issue of The Phoenicia Times.
As for the barely-missed deadline, which state law makes a point of
reinforcing through mandatory dates for departmental budgets and other
flows of information, the supervisor said, "On October 5 I got
it back from the accountants but found there were corrections that had
to be made. What we got wasn't what we wanted. I'm not going to name
names it may have just been a typographical error or two"
Cross said he first started working on the budget with department heads
five weeks ago, around the time of the state's September 20 deadline.
Democrat board members Paul Van Blarcum and Edna Hoyt both said they
didn't know of the budget until Cross alerted them on Monday, Columbus
Day that it was waiting to be picked up from their mailboxes.
Woodstock Town Supervisor Jeremy Wilbur said this week that he began
working on his budget in August and has been holding several workshops
a week to work out any kinks in the budget, in full view of the public,
so a full consensus can be reached on it by the time of a state-mandated
hearing the week following Election Day, for final passage by November
"The budget represents the bottom line of everything local government
does," he said of his fastidiousness in bookkeepingon Monday while
working at his office on a holiday. "It's the blueprint for everything
we do But it's not like anyone gets led away in handcuffs if you slip
over the deadline."
Olive Supervisor Berndt Leifeld said he started his process about seven
weeks ago, as well. He says it consumes his end-of-summer and early
autumn each year. But he also added that, "If the state can be
late with their own budget every year, it's not like they can say much
if one of us is."
So how did Cross find the whole budgeting experience his first time
"It's a learning experience for everyone who comes into this position,"
he said on Tuesday. "I wanted to keep our tax burdens low and I
think we did very well to keep it under 6 percent. It was a challenge,
a big challenge, but you know how I like challenges."
Did he feel relief that what many feel is the hardest part was over?
"It felt good for a couple of days," the supervisor responded.
"I had some sleepless nights there it's one thing to do one's own
finances, but something else to do it for everyone. The hardest part
for me was to stomach all that was mandated. There's nothing to do but
ante up on all that. Even when the state drops its own share of funding."
In Woodstock, Wilbur is holding budget meetings three days a week through
the month. In Olive, the next budget workshop has been set for October
The next time budget matters get discussed in Shandaken is at the official
public hearing on October 28 at 7 p.m.
Shandaken history came up when Maureen Nagy, a Pine Hill resident who
has worked with Overlook Press and other top publishing companies throughout
her life, was named the town's new historian, replacing Charles Zimmerman,
who recently resigned to concentrate on new research opportunities in
Albany. After a strong letter of recommendation on behalf of Ms. Nagy
was read from noted regional historian Alf Evers, including mention
of the non-political nature of such appointments, the resolution passed
town issues arose more gently than in many recent meetings, with an
emphasis on current fiscal matters.
resolution to approve a 25 percent water usage rate hike for residents
of Pine Hill in 2005 was tabled until next month so that system's advisory
committee, put in place after the town bought the failing system a little
over a year ago, has a chance to look over and endorse the proposal
first. Cross said that increases, including a current double billing
for the current quarter that has just gone out, were necessary, "to
make ends meet." Town clerk Laurilyn Frasier added that water costs
would still be reasonable for local residents, given that the system
has not seen a usage fee rise in over 10 years, as well as the way the
system is billed per faucet, unlike the Phoenicia Water System's usage
fees based on property value.
For Our Sewer?
In small town areas like ours, one does what one has to when job offers
arise. Johnson, who moved to the Catskills 17 years ago from Long Island
when her husband decided to follow his long-held dream of relocating
to the idyllic area his grandparents had kept a home in, shifted to
the library from teaching work when an opening occurred. Now, a degree
in Library Sciences from SUNY-Albany later, she's loving that moment
had always wanted to be a teacher and get students interested in reading,"
she says of her lifelong love of books and all things literary. "I
loved going to the library as a kid, and I grew up always surrounded
by books. My mother was always an avid reader."
says her own reading has tended towards mysteries, particularly by such
women authors as Sue Grafton and Agatha Christie.
says she's looking to start visiting a number of the many fine libraries
throughout the region that are part of the mid-Hudson Library System.
She touts the organization for the number of volumes available through
their vast network, as well as accessibility online.
for the particulars of the Phoenicia Library, Johnson loves the friendliness
of the place, the way it feels like home. She gets along wonderfully
with the lively volunteers who have long lent the place on Main Street
its special élan. And she's gradually getting to know the myriads
who call the place a second home, from those using the upstairs internet
access or one-of-a-kind fishing collection to the many kids and young
adults who thrive in the back room.
fact, two of the projects Johnson's looking to get up and running over
the coming months are a new children's reading program, as well as a
shifting of collections ˆ putting mysteries in with general fiction
ˆ to allow for a special section solely for young adult readers,
so they don't have to be lumped in with children any more.
role of libraries is important in this area," she says. "They
help the schools, who can't keep as large collections as some places.
We help to fill in the gaps."
mother of three also talked about the community role a place like the
Phoenicia Library serves, allowing a place for kibitzing as much as
meet with one another and chat," Johnson notes. "And the staff
knows everybody, making life always interesting in here."
what does she think of this new view of the area, via Main Street Phoenicia
and the Town of Shandaken?
a great town. Everybody's friendly," Johnson replies.
as always," she says. "Libraries need money like people need
He used to live in Manhattan's Midtown in a massive industrial loft.
Was known as Stu Chernoff, the name he was given at birth, until his
way of answering the phone at the various photographic studios he worked
at, and then started as a top-notch photographer, led to what many consider
his only moniker now.
Stu here," was how it all started.
that's before Studio, as we'll call him, had a kid and decided to move
out of the city and up to the creative community of Woodstock which
he moved out of, for a teaching gig in Puerto Rico, soon after finding
that the so-called "artists colony" has more regulations than
creativity these days.
the neighborhood we were living," he says of what he left behind
years ago, "I'd have had to wait until my son was 20 before sending
him out for milk."
back to the story Studio moves up, eventually, to Boiceville. And then
deeper into Olive in the Krumville area. But he finds that working as
a photographer isn't that easy up here. He starts to think.
had had this washtub bass - had been into music from an early age, but
didn't follow it because I felt another guitar player wasn't what was
needed back when I got out of college in the early seventies - and I
ended up desperate enough to head down to the city to try playing in
picked a prime spot near the IND lines at 34th Street, where those coming
into Penn Station catch the train. Started singing Duke Ellington's
classic "A Train" and made a mint his first day. Became a
hit with the tourists, averaging $30 to $40 an hour. And decided to
build a new life to match, and help support, his family's new upstate
saw this cat in a cartoon playing a washtub bass, and the notes he was
playing were the notes in my head," Studio says of his attraction
to his trademark style after starting out, as a kid growing up in Coney
Island, on the accordion. "They were jazz riffs, some out jazz,
and he was singing some mammy/pappy thing, smokin' a cigar, it was crazy.
And right then and there, I knew that's what I wanted to do."
a while, Studio hooked up with a growing number of local players, Gus
Mancini in particular, and became a regular feature on Doug Gruenther's
Sunday morning radio program on WDST-FM. Local gigs followed, and he
started working at getting bookings. Hired an agent. Made a life and
career of it all.
Stduio Stu holds down regular gigs three nights a week in the area,
with Saturdays and at least one week a month set aside for interstate
touring. On Thursdays, he plays Gadaleto's in New Paltz. Fridays he's
at Neko Sushi in Wappingers Falls. Sundays sees him at the Clove Café
in High Falls for brunch.
looking for a fourth gig locally," Studio adds.
outside-of-the-area gigs see him booking colleges and coffee shops from
Maine to North Carolina, with increasing popularity. Much of what he
does amounts to emceeing gigs, providing the 15 to 20-minute fillers
between other acts.
a true, much-valued niche that the former Mr. Chernoff says he wishes
he'd searched out and found much earlier in his life.
never get nervous going on stage," he says of his new life. "I
love what I do."
does he miss Brooklyn?
can't take it out of me" he says.
further information on Studio Stu, a true Catskills original (even with
all the talk about that borough in the city), visit www.studiostu.com.