Bishop’s Gate sinkholes are a real problem
Over the past several years the town Highway Department has been responding to calls from property owners in the Bishop’s Gate subdivision concerning sinkholes forming in their front yards near the storm water catch basins. The current Highway Superintendent Doug Myer called in the town engineers Brinnier & Larios P.C. to do an independent assessment of the problem.
Based on their inspections, Brinnier & Larios reported that the cause of the sinkholes was attributable to the construction technique used to terminate the storm sewer piping into the concrete catch basin structure. In their report they stated “We strongly recommend that this information be reviewed with the sub-divider and their engineer to ascertain whether the sub-divider will participate in the correction of this catch basin sealing issue, or if they have any particular insights into this situation that can be shared in a constructive manner.”
The sub-divider was Ray Mayone, who is currently a candidate for the position of highway superintendent.
Mr. Michael E. Catalinotto, a strong supporter of Mr. Mayone, has been on a tirade claiming that this was a fabricated political issue. This is nonsense. Mr. Myer stated for the record at the Aug. 14 board meeting that he never put Bishop’s Gate on the agenda. Subsequently he requested that the report from Brinnier & Larios be discussed privately so that this potentially serious issue could be dealt with in a professional manner. It is Mr. Catalinotto who has kept the issue alive in the public domain through two letters to the local papers and two speeches at the Town Board meetings. It has become obvious that he is attempting to lessen any political embarrassment to Mr. Mayone. To make matters worse he is now trying to direct responsibility onto the deceased former Highway Superintendent Bernie Ellsworth. Let’s examine the facts.
It is true that these catch basins were approved by the previous highway superintendent. We will never know the reason why. However, there is a real issue in Bishop’s Gate because the catch basins were not installed in accordance with the approved blueprints presented to and accepted by the Saugerties Planning Board. At the present time there are 14 catch basins that need to be repaired. The estimated cost can be up to $2,000. per catch basin. There remains 76 catch basins that may need the same repairs in the future.
Mr. Catalinotto wants to minimize the severity of the sinkhole problem and simply categorize it as a manufactured political issue. The residents of Bishop’s Gate should not be overly concerned, this is not similar to the sinkhole problem in the City of Kingston. But the remediation of this problem will cost them and every other taxpayer a considerable sum of money now and in the future.
I know that Doug Myer is not concerned with the politics, he simply wants to remedy the situation in the most economical way possible.
Chair, Saugerties Democratic Committee
Myer’s management could cost Saugerties
The financial machinations in the Town of Saugerties Highway Department deserve looking into.
As is set forth in a Letter to the Editor in your Sept. 12 issue, it is illegal to use fema money to pay town employees for their usual duties. The present Highway Superintendent billed fema for 1930 hours, at $20 per hour, that his secretary worked during an entire year. Therefore, she apparently did no work for the town for which it was financially responsible. However, at a Republican Committee meeting, Doug Myer conceded that his secretary was paid with fema money for town work and that he could get in trouble for doing that. The town may have to reimburse fema.
On a salary of $48,900, the assistant superintendent was paid nearly $100,000 in his first 18 months in that position. That must include a lot of overtime during one of the mildest winters on record. Under prior highway superintendents, the assistant superintendent was not paid for overtime. Maybe the fact that the assistant is a close personal friend of Doug Myer explains why he gets overtime.
There are examples of poor financial management on the part of the present highway superintendent and does not justify his re-election.
Michael E. Catalinotto
Let’s focus on quality jobs
Now that the caucuses are over and the primaries are decided I would like to start focusing on the issues that will form the basis of my campaign platform. First and foremost of these issues being the need for greater emphasis on economic development.
An objective of our 2008 Saugerties Economic Development Strategy is to “create additional living wage jobs,” yet it seems we’ve made little headway in accomplishing that goal.
It seems that we have turned our attention to tourism as the prime driver of our local economy. This sector certainly forms an integral part of our overall plan, but focusing so heavily on the tourist trade, to the exclusion of other objectives, could prove unwise. Let’s face it, in an economic downturn the travel and entertainment industries are some of the first to suffer. Having all of our eggs in the tourism basket does not bode well for the town when the economy falters. Additionally, while this sector generates substantial revenue for our retail, food service and entertainment industries, it does not necessarily create a wealth of quality, living wage jobs. We simply cannot grow our tax base through tourism alone.
My economic strategy envisions a broad-based philosophy where we attempt to attract high quality manufacturing, light industrial or technology based businesses to form the core of our local commerce, while simultaneously continuing our quest to make Saugerties a desired tourist destination. Under this scenario we build a firm foundation on businesses less likely to falter in a short-term economic slump and more likely to create living wage jobs, while tourism generates an additional revenue stream, primarily through sales tax receipts, to aid our economic growth and prosperity.
I would propose a strategy that utilizes section 485-b of the Real Property Tax Law to provide short-term, decreasing exemptions to new and expanding businesses. This is not a PILOT program. It simply creates an exemption from the full taxable value of a commercial property, much like homeowners benefit from school tax reductions through the STAR program.
The beauty of this plan is that it costs very little to implement. The only up-front costs would be marketing the program. Businesses seeking to take advantage of this program would still need to go through all application, review and permitting processes in accordance with our present town ordinances. The end result would be that a business eligible for the exemption would receive a 50 percent reduction on assessed value in year one, with a 5 percent decrease in the exemption in each succeeding year until it expires. This arrangement allows a new or expanding business to free up much needed operating capital in those critical first few years of operation.
New York continues to be one of the highest taxed, most regulated states in the country. To overcome this we must find creative ways to aggressively market Saugerties as a great place to set up shop. When elected to the Town Board, I will work diligently with the Economic Development and Tourism committees to create an environment conducive to small business development, thereby broadening the tax base for the benefit of existing businesses and residential property owners alike.
There is an old joke about the vice president of the U. S. It goes like this:
There once was a man with two sons. One went to sea as a sailor and the other went to Washington as the vice president and neither has been heard from since.
Now I know that Kingston isn’t as far from here as Washington and that Mary Wawro isn’t the vice president, but in the last election the voters of Ulster County Election District One sent Ms. Wawro to Kingston as their legislative representative and one hasn’t heard from her since. I tried to look her up on the Internet a month ago, before the election campaign starts this year, and I couldn’t find anything about her save one item. Apparently, the legislative chairman, Terry Bernardo, brought Mary in tow to introduce her to the Saugerties Village Board. That’s it. There wasn’t a blog or webpage, there wasn’t anything about her holding meetings to talk to her constituents, there were no press releases, there was only silence.
Well, my understanding of having legislators represent a specific election district is that they will be in greater contact with the voters, explaining what is going on legislatively, seeking ideas, hearing of needs and representing their interests in the legislature. What does one hear from Mary? Nothing. Oh, beginning in September we will hear a lot, we will get post cards, phone calls and flyers requesting our votes for her to return to office. Should we reelect this stealth legislator another time? What’s the alternative?
Beth Murphy is the Democratic and Working Families Party nominee for this office. She is active in the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce, she comes from a working class family, she is retired from market research at IBM, she has served on the Winston Farm Development Committee, she has been involved with economic development in Saugerties, and she has videoed numerous hours of public meetings for Channel 23 for all of us to see what is happening at various public meetings.
One thing is certain. When Beth Murphy is elected she won’t go off to Kingston never to be heard from again. She has started a web page, Murphy4u.com, to present her views, solicit ideas and generally to interact with her constituents and she pledged to continue this as your legislator to ensure participatory involvement in your government. Check out the website and vote for Beth Murphy this November.
Proud to endorse
It is our pleasure to be able to recommend Ray Mayone for our town of saugerties highway superintendent. We have watched Raymond grow and mature from a teenager to the honest, hardworking man he is today. As a young man he was a captain with the Glasco Fire Company and proved his leadership skills early on. In fact, his older son is now an assistant chief with the Glasco Fire Company. Ray has passed on his leadership skills to his two sons and I know he will do the same at the Highway Department. His talents in construction are exceptional and will be asset to the highway department. We encourage all voters to get out on Election Day, Nov. 5 and do the right thing for our Highway Department. Vote for Ray Mayone for highway superintendent.
Giulia and Joe Kime