Letters (9/5-9/12)

mailNo need to rush in new meters

After attending an informational session presented by the company that the town of Saugerties has contracted with to install new water meters, I left as confused and concerned as when I entered the Glasco Firehouse to attend this meeting.

The gentleman from the company presented a PowerPoint presentation stating all the good features of having this type of water meter for the town of Saugerties and the Water Department, not for the residents. He did not once refer to the Clean Water Act of 2014, signed by President Barack Obama. When my concerns grew about this project regarding the water meters, about three weeks ago, I contacted one of our Town Council and was told that the town needed to upgrade to these meters due to the signing of this bill by the president and it was a law and we needed to comply and had until Jan. 3, 2014 to complete this installation process. I was also told that it was funded by grant money and that the Town would lose the money unless it was used and it was decided that it would be used for this project, along with a $360,000 tax-payer funded increase to supplement the cost. I was told that if the town waited until after January the project would cost the full $800,000 plus total cost.

We have lived in our house since 1976. Since then, only one new water meter was installed. We have never had to call the water department for maintenance due to a malfunction of our current water meter. We have had to call them several times due to ruptured water mains in the dead of winter and their response was commendable.

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After watching and listening to the presenter I found nothing in his presentation that stressed the need for this installation process to be expedited within the last four months of 2013. He did mention the levels of lead and brass in equipment and fittings would not be replaced if necessary. This is congruent with the Clean Water Act of 2014. It does not mandate a replacement immediately.

Concluding my thoughts on this topic, it appeared to me that the true value of these new meters does not lie in better service to the residents but increased revenue for the town as we all know that an upgrade of anything does not come with an increase in expenses. As far as the safety of this equipment, it is far too early to formulate damage and lasting effects on human health. Studies may conclude in 20 years that these meters do cause cancer and can be clearly linked to it.

I have watched numerous people that I have loved dearly die or suffer from cancer. It is not a pretty picture. Wake up, let’s do some investigating and not look at this from a dollar and cents perspective, or making one’s job easier but the impact on those that have to live and pay for it.

Christine Aiello
Saugerties

 

Saugerties wakes up

There has been an incredible backlash against the Saugerties citizens that are raising issues about the placement of water meters on their properties. I find this situation so important to the growth of political awareness in Saugerties. I have struggled to get my parents to research these issues that I have known about for years through alternative media. I commend Donna Greco and Robert Aiello for searching for real answers beyond the government-sponsored propaganda the mainstream media spews.

I also find it very disconcerting that the Saugerties Times is joining the national trend in journalism by becoming pro-establishment. Just like its sister paper, the Kingston Times, that attacks Mayor Shayne Gallo on his behavior, there was no mention of the reporter challenging the Town Board or the supervisor or even trying to find out the source of disconnect between the town government and the citizens. The article focused on the citizens’ behavior and never went in depth on issues raised.

This is a device that is being placed on people’s personal property. Property owners have a right to question its safety and they have a right to challenge the government about invading their property.

The real issue is the Clean Air and Water Act. Even though this legislation was introduced to protect the environment and the American people from corporations toxic waste, current environmental policy has been about sacrificing human well being for the good of the environment. Today, the Clean Air and Water Act works to defend the corporations and also promote big government. For example, there was a recent case brought to the attention of Senator Rand Paul about the EPA taking over someone’s property because it was determined after it was purchased that it was wetland. I encourage you to research that case to see firsthand how the government is manipulating the environment to serve its own interests. Scarier is the story of John P. Holden, President Obama’s science czar, who has openly written about population control as a solution to our environmental problems. Obama gave a pass to BP who decimated our gulf waters and the economy and health of the Gulf Coast population. Corporations blow up mountains and contaminate water causing cancer in West Virginia, and they get a pass and a tax break!

The skepticism of the government, I feel, is stemming from recent evidence that the government is violating our civil rights by spying on us, arresting us without warrant, taking our guns as protected under the Constitution, and so much more. The government has a very cavalier attitude towards its citizens, disregarding their concerns until people are ready to explode. I am beyond thrilled that Saugertesians are taking a stand against the status quo and speaking out about what works for them. I used to be embarrassed to say I was from Saugerties as it always seemed to settle for petty power play politics over taking a stance on real issues. I am embarrassed no more.

Sarah Hyatt-Dahman
Saugerties

 

Saugerties needs county sales tax

As residents of Saugerties receive their property tax bills, a common complaint is heard: Personal property taxes are too high! And if the extension of the 4 percent Ulster County sales tax is not approved in the New York State Legislature before the end of Sept., it has been reported that Ulster County will lose $5,953,938 in sales tax revenues during the last quarter of 2013. Annually, Ulster County collects around $22 million dollars in sales tax revenues, and from these revenues, Saugerties receives $900,000 back from the county. In Ulster County, the local costs of safety net expenditures and voting costs are paid for on the local municipal level. Currently in Saugerties, safety net expenditures are up over 4 percent from their early projections and could end up being 5 percent higher by the end of the year. If Saugerties loses these sales tax revenues, property taxes will increase unless serious budgetary cuts are made by the Saugerties town supervisor and board in its next budget. No one in Saugerties wants to see essential services cut, but Supervisor Myers and the Town Board will be faced with tough decisions if the extension is not approved through a special session of the New York State Legislature during the month of Sept..

Under New York State Law, counties are permitted to charge up to 3 percent in local sales taxes, and individual counties can request an increase upon that 3 percent rate if the requesting county’s legislature passes legislation that is forwarded to the state legislature for approval. After the legislature approves such requests, they are sent back to the county’s legislature for a ratification vote prior to the implementation or continuance of such sales taxes. Assemblyman Kevin Cahill placed a condition on the state-level legislative bill authorizing Ulster County’s request which would have mandated a countywide takeover of collective safety net costs and voting costs rather than having them paid for at the local level. Ulster County is the only county in New York State that does this, and although Cahill’s addendum looks out for the long-term sustainability of the county budget and the manageability of local municipal budgets, it ignores the short-term needs of Ulster County. Ulster County residents and Saugerties residents need this sales tax revenue or else our property taxes will go up and/or we will lose services! And because some of these revenues are generated from tourists and not Ulster County residents, the amount of money that Ulster County consumers will save from overall sales taxes that are 1 percent less will not equal the amount in higher property taxes and rents that residents will pay if the 4 percent county sales tax request is not approved ASAP! More economic development in Ulster County and Saugerties can help offset these lost sales tax revenues, but it should be done to bring jobs and to lower property taxes not to offset lost sales tax revenues.

Chris Allen
Saugerties

The writer is a candidate for Ulster County Legislature, District II

 

No more Esopus releases

I represent District II in the Ulster County Legislature and on August 27, 2013 I submitted Resolution 241 which would authorize and direct the County Attorney to commence an Article 78 proceeding to challenge the New York State Department of Conservation and the Department of Environmental Protection regarding polluted water released into the Esopus Creek as well as its complete disregard of the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirement that it address turbidity levels in the Esopus Creek. At times, as much as 600 million gallons a day are released into the Esopus!

I am sick and tired of New York City’s complete disdain of federal and state laws that are applied heavily to our local businesses and residents. I have been calling for this action for over a year and call upon my fellow lawmakers to join me in seeking discovery action to force the state and city to stop its illegal dumping of turbid waste into an impaired waterway.

The time has come for us to take a tough stance on this issue. I am convinced that the public has heard all the small talk. It is time to replace that talk with action.

Robert Aiello
Legislator, District II

 

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