New Paltz Town Board reorganizes, sets goals for 2014

Town Board members wanted to set the Community Center rental fee higher to dissuade people from leaving a mess on town property.

“So you have the money to rent the venue. And you’ll get your $150 back if you’re considerate,” Councilwoman Gallucci explained.

Board members approved the adoption of all the town’s fees, including that higher rental fee.



Town Board revives old committees to meet policy goals

Supervisor Zimet also used the meeting to unveil a few new policy goals. She’s reinstating the Senior Citizens Committee, with Councilman Torres as the liaison.

Originally set up in the 1990s, the Senior Citizens Committee helped explore program ideas to benefit local elders. “The work of that committee was actually the impetus for the Community Center,” Zimet explained.

That former committee disbanded, but the Town Board thinks there’s still valuable work to do. A newly reconstituted Senior Citizens Committee will ask seniors what recreational programs they’d like the town to offer, among other things.

Also the town’s Industrial and Commercial Incentive Board (ICIB) will form once again, with Councilman Kevin Barry as its chairman.

The ICIB has the power to grant local tax exemptions to help incentivize commerce, but another role for the group is to make recommendations on how to improve the “economic climate of the New Paltz community.”

Expect the new ICIB to look over tax revenues that might be going currently uncaptured.

“This is already established in our town code. This seemed to be the perfect vehicle for Kevin [Barry] to undertake the work he’s been talking to us about over the past couple of meetings,” she said. “We don’t have to recreate the wheel.”

Barry, who is a lawyer by trade, recently found an old town law still on the books from 1982 that allows certain non-profit organizations — namely environmental and conservation groups — to be taxed. The ICIB will look at adjusting taxes for non-profits currently receiving tax breaks contrary to that law.

“He’s been looking at how do we really balance the tax exemptions … with the property taxpayers in New Paltz,” Zimet said.

Also, the ICIB could potentially look at a local homestead tax law, which would allow second homes or rental properties to be taxed at a higher rate than a primary residence.

Rather than being a remote, top-down giver of tax exemptions — like a county Industrial Development Agency — the local ICIB would help incentivize the growth New Paltz residents actually want to see happen.

“It’s really the perfect time right now in terms of what we’re going through with all these PILOTs,” said Zimet, referring to “payment in lieu of taxes” agreements. “It’s front and center in the public’s mind.”

The town law establishing the ICIB passed in 2004. That law states that one Town Board member, one Planning Board member, one Environmental Conservation Board member and two community members have to make up the ICIB.

Town Board members also voted to reconvene the fallow Recreation Committee and to change the former Public Access Committee into the Communications Committee.

The old Public Access Committee oversaw contract negotiations with Time Warner Cable over local cable Channel 23. A Communications Committee would do some of that work, if need be, but it would have a broader focus.

“We do still have need for public access, in terms of issues from time to time,” the supervisor said, adding that the new committee would allow them to address “how we want to communicate with the public,” including the use of social media.