Op-ed: Town needs new direction

The following is an op-ed written by town supervisor candidate Kelly Myers:

 

Budget Information

The current town supervisor in his last missive said that the town has never charged for copies of the budget. This is actually a half-truth. Budget copies are available free of charge – but only in the time period before the Town Board votes on the budget. (so –now is the time to pick up your free copy!) At other times throughout the year I have requested budget information in order to make informed decisions (as a member of Village Board) and was told several times that the fee for budget copies was 25 cents per page. The occasions I recall were prior to the Saugerties Police Department merger when I reviewed the financial breakdown for the police department, and the police consolidation grant. Another occasion was when I met with the town accountant to review the apportionment of Social Services Safety Net charge backs. On both occasions I reviewed a copy of the budget in the conference room and paid for a section of pages to be copied – as having the entire budget copied would be too expensive. I believe this expense is a barrier for citizens in our community who want to be informed partners and contribute to the process of making our finances work for us.

This past year, the village put its budget on its website. Now anyone who wants to review it can do so anytime — free of charge. As your next town supervisor I’ll make sure the town puts this information on their webpage. The budget process should be transparent and user friendly— after all, it’s your money.

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When I am elected I will appoint a Budget Committee in January. We will go line by line through the town budget to assess necessary expenditures and essential services. I am not afraid to make mid-year cuts.

 

Open government

The current town supervisor also recently said that the Town Board meeting he convened on 8/26 to re- vote on the PILOT agreement for the Dickerson’s Keep Housing Development was a legal meeting. This is incorrect; the Open Meetings Law clearly states that at least 72 hours public notice must be given. Placing a few flyers around the office an hour before the 9 a.m. meeting does not constitute adequate public notice – nice try! On September 8 another “special” meeting was also held without appropriate public notice to approve Town bills and abstracts.

Here’s the link to section 104 of the Open Meetings Law – titled “Public Notice” https://www.dos.state.ny.us/coog/openmeetlaw.html. People have the right to know what their government is doing. As your next town supervisor, I will make sure the Open Meetings Law is adhered to.

 

PILOT agreement

At a time when property and school taxes are at an all time high, people are suing the town over unfair property tax assessments, losing properties at tax sale, or selling their homes because they can no longer afford their taxes, and over 900 property owners grieved their last property tax assessment – I don’t understand how the current Town Board could approve (twice) the 30-year PILOT agreement for this project. This project did not have a public hearing on the PILOT; this project does not have Planning Board approval. The SEQR that was previously completed for a prior development proposal is being applied to this new venture. The Town Board did not consult with the school district about the school tax implications of this PILOT. According to school finance administrators, this development is projected to increase our school budget by approximately $500,000. Developers need to pay their fair share of local taxes — end of story. Our tax burden is big enough. As the saying goes—“when you’re in a hole, stop digging!” As your next yown supervisor, I will not approve financial agreements that are not in the best interests of taxpayers.

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