Letters (11/29-12/6)

Raise fees before closing transfer station

I am aware that there is a possibility that the Saugerties Transfer Station on rte 212 may close to loss of revenue. There is apparently a $100,000 shortfall, and that raising the annual fee $10 would save $50,000. Why don’t they raise the annual fee to $35, a $20 increase and then it becomes revenue neutral ? I know I would pay an extra $20 a year to continue to be able to use the use facility. I think many people also would. I mean a $20 increase a year is only 39 cents a week,  or 19 1/2 cents more than it would be, not a large amount of money.

Alan J. Greenhalgh
Woodstock

 

Police merger was costly for town

Recently, Councilman Bruce Leighton offered a sloppy, incoherent defense of the village/town police merger that seriously questions his fitness for office.

Leighton disputed my claim that the merger has hurt town finances. He argues that taxpayers benefited because the current police budget is less than the combined town/village budgets before the merger. This is nonsense. Perhaps Leighton doesn’t realize it, but eight out of ten Saugerties residents live outside the village and don’t pay village taxes. Therefore, non-village residents have not seen any savings.

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The negative impacts of the merger in next year’s town budget are obvious. The town is not receiving $208,000 from the village for police services that it received the prior two years and the police budget increased by $188,000. This loss of revenue and spending increase negatively impacted the budget by $396,000. This equates to a 7.5 percent general fund property tax increase.

Because the size of the police department doubled post-merger, the town budget is impacted in other ways. Since the merger went into effect two years ago, the town’s cost for employee benefits, retirement, social security and worker’s compensation increased by $1 million. None of this should come as a shock. The study used to justify the merger predicted taxes would increase for non-village residents if village subsidies ended and protected savings aren’t realized.

Leighton’s cohorts Greg Helsmoortel, Freddie Costello and Leanne Thornton had the audacity to list the police merger as one of their “accomplishments” last year. The truth is that this is yet another poor decision by the Democratic Town Board majority that will seriously strain town resources for many years to come.

Joe Roberti, Jr.
Chair, Saugerties GOP

 

Time for trails

Completing a world-class trail network linking the Walkway Over the Hudson to Kingston and then out to the Ashokan Reservoir and beyond offers the Catskills huge economic benefits built on healthy recreational activity. Studies across the country repeatedly demonstrate substantial economic and health benefits from building off-road multiple-purpose trail networks, and linking existing mountain biking and hiking trails in the Catskills with these trail networks obviously creates an invitation for outdoors enthusiasts from around the world to join us in enjoying these riches.

In the mid-1970s, Ulster County purchased the old Ulster & Delaware Corridor running along the Esopus Creek as an almost 40-mile long linear park intended for the benefit of the public. Over the past three decades, the best efforts of the Catskill Mountain Railroad, a for-profit railroad line operating in the corridor, have left them far short of their obligations and aspirations, with only about five miles of track active and huge environmental and financial hurdles looming. Trail users therefore deserve immediate access to all those sections of the corridor that the railroad has been unable to maintain and will never be able to put into use. This can be done without harming the railroad’s existing operations, and, as with other rail trails around the country, the railroad right-of-way can be preserved via rail-banking, so that in the future a railway can be brought in, if a viable business plan for doing that emerges.

Thanks to all those who have worked to construct the Walkway Over the Hudson and other very active and well-managed rail trails in our region, we are now within reach of filling all the remaining gaps so that off-road cycling, skating, walking, running, and cross-country skiing become possible throughout Ulster County for both residents and visitors. Thanks primarily to County Legislators John and Robert Parete, Ulster County has sustained this vision since the time of the County’s initial investment in the Ulster & Delaware Corridor, and thanks to County Executive Mike Hein, a means toward the completion of a world-class, unified, county-wide trail network appears to be at hand. Please voice your support for bringing forward this vision and filling the gaps and opening up some of the most important trail sections of the network, especially in unused yet beautiful and extremely trail-worthy portions of the Ulster & Delaware Corridor!

Kathy Nolan, Chair
Ulster County Trails Advisory Committee

 

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