Letters (November 13-20)

mailHidden spending increases in town budget

It’s hard to believe Saugerties has a large budget deficit and a poor credit rating after reviewing the tentative 2015 town budget. The town’s finances have been hurt in recent years due to not budgeting $400,000 in county welfare and election costs and because $200,000 for the Glasco Mini Park was not budgeted (11/14/13 Saugertiesx.com).

There are several positives about the budget — the town saved $134,000 due to the county taking over Safety Net and received about $70,000 from last summer’s music festival. The town is also benefitting from the county’s three-year takeover of election costs, reduced bond payments and an increase in PILOT revenues.

Despite these positives, overall General Fund/Outside Village spending is increasing by almost four percent (page 45, total expenditures)*. Rising personnel costs can explain some, but not all the spending increases.

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The tentative 2015 budget contains salary increases, in some cases substantial, for several elected officials. Many town departments will see big spending increases if there are no changes:

Police, 6 percent (14 percent increase over two years);

Highway Superintendent salary, 22 percent;

“Personal Services,” 25 percent (listed under “Special Services”);

Justice Court, 6.2 percent;

Supervisor’s Office, 7.3 percent;

Town Clerk, 6.1 percent;

Buildings, 8.2 percent; and

Parks, 6 percent.

The final budget vote is scheduled for Nov. 19. I urge the Town Board to do all it can to reduce unnecessary spending to protect the town’s financial future.

Joe Roberti, Jr.
Chair, Saugerties Republican Committee

According to town officials, this comparison is misleading because it does not include $200,000 later added for Safety Net payments. If that is factored in, the appropriations increase would be 1.5 percent, in line with the tax levy increase.

 

In a world with no noise ordinance

It’s 10 p.m. You get up at 5:30 a.m. because you need to get ready for work. The pounding of a bass drum and the shrill sound of a trumpet continue. You turn your head and look at your clock. It is now midnight. You’re getting aggravated and more angry. You had your physical today and were advised by your doctor to get enough sleep and try not to get too anxious.

Because there is no noise ordinance, and local officials can’t figure out what noise is, you live with it. You call the police to explain your problem. They promise to send out a car. They do. They leave. It is now 3 a.m.

You live in Barclay Heights. Unlike the village, where a noise ordinance is in effect, you don’t have one. If you can’t define noise then it makes no sense to try to enforce it. You can’t enforce something you can’t define or something that is not an ordinance. Then you wonder. How does the village of Saugerties define noise as they have a noise ordinance? Silly isn’t it but under current law, there would be no solution to this problem.

I am speaking of course about the current situation where town officials and a county legislator can’t seem to figure out just how to make the residents and voters in this area come to compromise with what seems to be an annoyance. My position is this: People deserve the right to peace of mind and body. Would you allow the school marching band to practice on Elm Street at 11 p.m.? Would you allow people to test their fire and smoke alarms on West Bridge, Main and Partition streets at 1:30 a.m.?

I understand that the police have their hands tied on this. However people who run for office have the responsibility to represent all of the people in the community. Tough decisions need to be made in the game of politics. Make them.

Bob Aiello
Saugerties

 

Dem chair steps down

By the time you read this letter, the dust will have settled and the voters will have spoken. With this election cycle over, and after almost 12 years as chair of the Saugerties Democratic Committee, I have decided to step down. A new executive board has been elected and I’m sure we will have a smooth transition.

Saugerties loves its politics which can be rough and tumble at times. We’ve all heard the term “politics ain’t beanbag.” Yet in the end, I have always believed that the public expects and deserves civility from candidates, their supporters, and party leaders. As chair I have strived to meet this standard

To the voting public, stay involved, I know I will.

Mike Harkavy
Saugerties

 

Veterans Day done right

I would like to express my gratitude to the Lamouree-Hackett American Legion Post 72 for their presentation and hospitality to all those in attendance for the Veterans Day ceremonies that were held on Tuesday, Nov. 11. It was my second year in attendance as the county legislator representing the village of Saugerties, and again, their cordiality and hospitality to all of those in attendance honors everyone who served in the military, and it speaks highly of the work that the American Legion Post 72 does on behalf of all of those who served this country in the armed forces. And if you get the opportunity, it would greatly benefit the American Legion Post 72 if you were to purchase raffle tickets for their upcoming raffle on Super Bowl Sunday.

Chris Allen
Ulster County Legislature

 

Town should approve funds for tennis courts

We represent a group of woman who play tennis at the Cantine Field courts from April until it snows. We are aware that a budget has been proposed to resurface the courts. It is long overdue and we applaud the town for supporting the resurfacing project. Greg Chorvas and his staff do an outstanding job maintaining the courts with the current resources available. The courts are a valuable asset not only to us, but also to the High School tennis team, the Saugerties community at large and its many visitors.

The Cantine Complex is a gem for Saugerties and a model sports center to the outside world. The tennis courts are part of the complex but have long been neglected. The gates are broken, the fencing needs repair, the nets are all detached from the surface and most of the court lines are non-existent. The town should give Greg and his staff the budget necessary to resurface the courts, and repair and maintain the courts so they are up to the high standards set by the rest of the sports complex.

We understand a final vote will take place next week. We ask that the Town Board give final approval to this much needed project.

Sonia Mankovitz, Abbie Schiff
Saugerties

 

Bottling plant needs stringent review

We are concerned that the Niagara Bottling proposal is being rushed without evidence of adequate consideration of potential economic and environmental costs. If the town of Ulster is likely to be the named “Lead Agency” in the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process, and it will now determine whether a full environmental impact study (EIS) is needed for the Niagara Proposal.

A “positive declaration,” which triggers the EIS, is necessary to assure a safe, responsible evaluation of the Niagara Bottling proposal in the town of Ulster. A positive declaration is required when potential exists for at least ONE significant environmental impact. This potential exists.

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The last scientific evaluation of the capacity of Cooper Lake, Kingston’s water supply, was in 1961. Even if the final engineering study for Kingston’s Water Board delivered on Nov. 12 concludes that our water capacity is adequate, it is incapable of assessing impacts of daily withdrawals from the remainder of Kingston’s water supply without up-to-date science. Weather and rain patterns are changing and unpredictable. There is more erosion and drought and less snow melt to replenish our water table.

At last week’s Ulster Town Board meeting, Supervisor Quigley admitted he hasn’t seen any cost/benefit calculations to prove that a limited number of a few below-industry-standard jobs are worth expensive highway wear and tear, the foreclosure of the opportunities for us to attract other industries, limiting the supply of necessary water available to create future housing, and 10 years of enormous tax breaks to Niagara. Our citizens and school district residents could end up paying to host this company.

A Positive Declaration and thorough evaluation of impacts are imperative. Let’s not sacrifice our region’s long term well-being for short-sighted development unsuited to our needs.

Rebecca Martin, Jennifer Schwartz Berky,
Heather Schwegler, Debra Bresnan, Kitty
McCullough and Rachel Marco-Havens
On behalf of KingstonCitizens.org

Included because Saugerties is down-river (down-creek?) from the proposed plant location. -Ed.