Pay raises for Columbia County employees

The Register-Star reports that the Columbia County Board of Supervisors voted for a two percent pay raise for county employees Wednesday night. Supervisors voting “yes” on the pay raise were: Chairman Roy Brown, R-Germantown; Jeffrey Braley, R-Austerlitz; Reggie Crowley, R-Copake; Deputy Chairman Larry Andrews, R-Ghent; Art Baer, R-Hillsdale; Ed Cross, D-Hudson2; William Hallenbeck Jr., R-Hudson3; Deputy Chairman Bart Delaney, R-Hudson5; Pat Grattan, R-Kinderhook; Kevin McDonald, R-Livingston; Leo Pulcher, R-Stockport; and Valerie Bertram, R-Stuyvesant. Voting against: Art Bassin, D-Ancram; Robin Andrews, D-Claverack; Ray Staats, D-Clermont; Minority Leader Jesse DeGroodt, D-Chatham; Lynda Scheer, R-Gallatin; Ed Nabozny, I-Greenport; John Musall, D-Hudson1; William Hughes, D-Hudson4; and Margaret Robertson, D-New Lebanon.

Officials stressing One City Centre purchase

Check out that headline in The Register-Star by the usually smarter writer Francesca Olsen. If you read deep down in her story you see why the officials are stressing a future building purchase: they don’t want you to think about the tax increase they just passed. Five paragraphs in Olsen mentions “Local laws renewing an additional half-percent of mortgage tax and an additional $2 per $1,000 of additional transfer tax on real property were also enacted.” Finally, seven paragraphs in, Olsen quotes Rick Rielly, president of the Columbia-Greene Board of Realtors, saying, “These are taxes, any way you look at it.” Olsen doesn’t even dare to say who voted for the tax, only that, “The renewal of taxes passed, with Supervisor John Musall, D-Hudson 1, abstaining, Supervisor William Hughes, D-Hudson 4, voting no on the additional transfer tax, and Supervisor Ed Cross, D-Hudson 2, voting no on the renewal.” Cross voted no on both taxes.

UPDATE:
Here is who voted for the mortgage tax:
Ancram’s Thomas Dias; Canaan’s Richard Keaveney; Chatham’s Jesse DeGroodt; Claverack’s James Keegan; Clermont’s Raymond Staats; Copake’s Reginald Crowley; Gallatin’s Lynda Scheer; Germantown’s Roy Brown; Ghent’s Lawrence Andrews; Greenport’s John Rutkey Sr.; Hillsdale’s Arthur Baer; Hudson’s 4th Ward-William Hughes, 5th Ward -Bart Delaney; Kinderhook’s Douglas McGivney; Livingston’s Philip Williams; New Lebanon’s Margaret Robertson; Stockport’s Leo Pulcher; Stuyvesant’s Valerie Bertram; Taghkanic’s Elizabeth Young. The same group voted for the transfer tax, except for Hudson’s William Hughes, who voted against.

Today’s local headlines

Brown replaces Scheer as deputy on county board
From Parry Teasdale in The Columbia Paper

HUDSON — Chairman of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Art Baer (R-Hillsdale) shuffled the leadership of the board, with Germantown Supervisor Roy Brown (R) replacing Gallatin Supervisor Lynda Scheer, as a deputy chairman of the board. Baer’s announcement of the move Friday said that Ms. Scheer resigned from the post “for personal reasons.” Brown stood with Baer on his controversial plan to buy the Ockawamick School building on Route 217 in Claverack and, initially, move much of the Department of Social Services there from Hudson. The change takes effect September 1.

Copake board finds ways to agree except on the deficit
From Diana Valden in The Columbia Paper

COPAKE – This is the sort of amazing story about local town meetings that is almost never written ’round these parts. Instead of deciding one of the night’s actions constituted a story and the rest did not, Valden bullet points 10 items that the usually contentious-across-party-lines town board agreed on last week. Then she writes how Councilman Bob Sacks, who has advocated cutting the town’s police force to cover the recently discovered large deficit, reported he was told by the Sheriff’s Office that patrols from that office cover Copake and all of Columbia County 24/7. Sacks also quoted the supervisors of other towns saying they could not afford their own police force and had no need for one because of coverage by the Sheriff’s Office and State Police. Copake Town Police Commissioner Jeff Nayer, then shouted, “Other towns don’t set what we do!” Mr. Nayer said that the Police Department had offered to cut 17 percent of its budget to help the town deal with the deficit, while other departments offered nothing.

New parties make ballot for November
From Jim Planck in The Daily Mail

Have A Voice candidates Karen Deyo, Keith Valentine, Linda Overbaugh, and Joseph Izzo will appear on the November ballot, as will Grassroots of Durham candidate Les Armstrong. The Have a Voice folks are Republicans, joining fellow GOPer Overbaugh in this bid to stay on the ballot for the four Catskill Greene County Legislature seats, after errors in her previous petitions kept her off the Republican line. Likewise with Armstrong, a Republican attempting to primary against Elsie Allan but now facing Allan and Democrat Sean Frey for the Durham seat on the legislature. Overbaugh and Armstrong’s third-party bids went unchallenged by opponents.

State parks in Columbia County fare better than most
From Mike McCagg in ccScoop

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation shows attendance at parks in the Taconic Region of the state park system, which includes Columbia County, is down 3.7 percent in the period from July 2008 through July 2009. Across New York, park attendance is down 4.5 percent, to 27.2 million visitors. Attendance dropped at the Clermont State Historic Site 18.5 percent to 43,456 visitors, at the Clermont State Historic Site 4.1 percent to 61,896 visitors, at the Olana State Historic Site 14.1 to 61,896 visitors, and at Lake Taghkanic State Park, 5.2 percent, to 95,862. At Taconic State Park in Copake attendance was up 12.9 percent to 13,313, and in Copake Falls attendance rose 5 percent to 73,066 visitors.

Farmland Protection on the way
From Francesca Olsen in The Register-Star

Last Tuesday the Planning and Economic Development Committee passed a resolution to apply for state grant funding for developing a Farmland Protection Plan, with matching funds to be provided by the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), as Columbia County is one of the few in the state without such a plan. The Columbia County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board submitted drafts of a plan to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, but was not approved.

Mario’s moves forward with new warehouse
From Paul Crossman in The Register-Star

VALATIE — Mario’s True Value Home Center is planning a new 20,000-square-foot lumber supply warehouse, and hopes to have closed on the new location by sometime in early September, with winter construction.

Today’s local headlines

Town meetings to air on public access channel
CAIRO – The Cairo Town Board extended Mid-Hudson Cable’s contract at their regular board meeting last night. At the public hearing about renewing the company’s franchise agreement before the board meeting, Cairo Supervisor John M. Coyne and council member Janet Schwarzenegger both advocated recording town meetings for Mid-Hudson’s public access channel. Schwarzenegger said Mid-Hudson recently gave the town a camera to record any meetings, and Coyne said, “We would like to have somebody volunteer to run that camera so that these meetings can be videotaped and can be played on their public-access channel” and a man in the audience volunteered.

Columbia County Conservative Party backs candidates
http://www.registerstar.com/articles/2009/06/18/news/news03.txt

County-wide — Sheriff, David W. Harrison Jr.; Coroner, Angelo M. Nero.
Ancram — Supervisor, Thomas R. Dias.
Austerlitz — Supervisor, Jeffrey Braley Sr.; Town Council, Matthew Verenazi and Carol Pinto; Clerk, Sue Haag; Highway Superintendent, Robert Meehan, Jr.
Canaan — Supervisor, Richard Keaveny; Town Council, David Patzwahl; Clerk/Tax Collector, Charlotte L. Cowan; Highway Superintendent, Bernhard Meyer.
Town of Chatham — Highway Superintendent, Joseph M. Rickert.
Claverack — Supervisor, James Keegan; Town Council, James S. Folz and Michael S. Johnston; Clerk/Tax Collector, Mary J. Hoose.
Clermont — Highway Superintendent, James Potts Jr.’ Clerk, Mary Helen Shannon.
Gallatin — Supervisor, Peter Arnone
Ghent — Supervisor, Larry Andrews; Town Council, Larry Van Brunt and Linda Schlegel-Hess; Clerk, Rose Elliot; Highway Superintendent, Michael E. Losa; Town Justice, David W. Harrison Sr.
Germantown — Highway Superintendent, Richard Jennings.
Greenport — Supervisor, Edward Nabozny; Town Council, Glen Graziano; Town Justice, Robert Brenzel; Highway Superintendent, Richard Otty; Clerk, Sharon Zempko.
Town of Kinderhook — Supervisor, Patrick Grattan; Town Council, Patrice Leader; Town Justice, Lisa Mills.
Hudson — Mayor, Richard Scalera; Supervisor (1st Ward), John Musall; Supervisor (2nd Ward), Tracy Decker; Supervisor (3rd Ward), William Hallenbeck Jr.; Supervisor (4th Ward), Samuel Santiago; Supervisor (5th Ward), Bart F. Delaney Jr.; Alderman (1st Ward), Geeta Cheddie; Alderman (5th Ward), Richard Goetz
Livingston — Supervisor, David Fingar; Town Council, James Guzzi and Joseph Leto; Town Justice, Robert Moore; Highway Superintendent, David Lyons.
Stockport — Town Council, Joseph Salvatore.
Stuyvesant — Supervisor, Valerie Bertram; Town Council, Brian Chittenden and Edward Scott; Clerk, Melissa Naegeli; Town Justice, Joseph Bruno; Town Justice, Carrie O’Hare; Highway Superintendent, Bernie Kowalski.
Taghkanic — Supervisor, Elizabeth Young; Clerk, Cheryl Rogers; Highway Superintendent, Edward Waldron.

Regional Economics Better Than Most
http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=810991

A new study released today by the Brookings Institution says this region is faring better than most of the nation’s metropolitan areas during the downturn. Foreclosures? We barely have them. The Brookings report says the Capital Region has the second-lowest percentage (0.58 percent) of homes owned by banks. Only Syracuse is better, among the nation’s 100 largest metros. Dramatic job cuts? Not here. Brookings says the Capital Region lost 0.5 percent of its employment base during the first three months of 2009. That doesn’t sound great, but it’s 14th best. (Detroit, by contrast, lost 3 percent of its jobs, the worst rate.)