Historic Ferry Road may close

Bob Green in the Register-Star filed a Freedom Of Information Law request to find out that:

According to the minutes of a non-public meeting between the DOT, the Department of Environmental Conservation and some town officials, the state agencies have again concluded that the at-grade railroad crossing at Ferry Road cannot be made safe, and must be closed. That would leave the three occupied homes there unreachable by emergency vehicles, and subject to purchase and removal by the state under eminent domain. Two of those properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the document, acquired under the Freedom Of Information Law, DOT Acting Region 8 Director Bill Gorton and Grade Crossing Section Director Ed Rosen “elaborated that no real option exists at Ferry Road besides purchasing the properties and closing the crossing. All other options are extremely cost-prohibitive.” A judge ruled in 1996 that the crossing was unsafe, but that ruling was updated in 2006 to say the crossing couldn’t be closed until a connector road was built to Ice House Road, a short distance to the north. DEC officials at the meeting discounted that possibility, saying “there is little lee-way in terms of rearranging the road/rail configuration at Ferry Road due to adjacent wetlands,” according to the minutes. Read the entire article in the Register-Star.

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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

Mistaken identity muddles Catskill candidacy
The Greenville Press (no web site)

CATSKILL – Linda Fenoff scoops everyone with the story of Linda Overbaugh’s now potentially failed candidacy for Greene County Legislator. It seems there are two Linda Overbaughs in Catskill, and local Republicans claim a Board of Elections official put the wrong Overbaugh on the petitions to add her to the ballot. Overbaugh, who most political observers deemed a favorite in the race, now may not be on the ballot at all, since all the signatures she received were for someone else, and incumbent Democrat Forest Cotten, who challenged the petition, has a much better chance. (Overbaugh is executive director of Heart of Catskill Association, and full disclosure, was on the WGXC Radio Council for a few months before she said she was too busy and withdrew.) In the story, local GOP officials hilariously seem to say they wouldn’t have challenged a Democrat if they would have made a similar mistake. No one believes that. But if a Board of Elections official made the error, perhaps a State Supreme Court judge will rule in her favor on the petitions, as the GOP is petitioning to get her on the ballot. Otherwise, if enough voters write in her name exactly on Sept. 15’s primary, she can get back on the ballot.

Greene County OKs new tax on mortgages
From The Daily Freeman

CATSKILL – The Greene County Legislature voted to raise taxes Thursday on new home buyers in Greene County. Voting to raise taxes were Catskill’s Karen Deyo (R), Dorothy Prest (R), Keith Valentine (R); Coxsackie’s Charles A. Martinez (R) and Wayne Speenburgh (R); Greenville’s Kenneth E. Dudley (R); Prattsville, Ashland, Windham, and Jewett’s James Hitchcock (R), and Halcott, Lexington, and Hunter’s Larry Gardner (D). Legislators Forest Cotten, D-Catskill, and Sean Frey, D-Durham, voted against the tax, while William Lawrence, R-Cairo; Harry Lennon, D-Cairo; James Van Slyke, D-New Baltimore; and Ray Brooks, R-Athens, were absent. Beginning Oct. 1, home buyers in Greene County will be required to pay an additional 50 cents per $100 on new mortgages. This new tax will be on top of the current 75-cents-per-$100 surcharge assessed on all new mortgages, of which 25 cents is paid to the state by the mortgage lender and 50 cents is paid by the borrower to the municipality where the property is located. The total mortgage recording tax will increase to $1.25 per $100, with 50 cents per $100 being paid to the county.

New accountant faces old budget deficit
From The Register-Star

COPAKE – The Town Board fired accountant Brian Fitzgerald Wednesday night after he told them last month they are facing a $175,000 budget deficit at the end of the year. The Town Board did not believe his numbers and fired him for mishandling funds, acting disrespectfully at public meetings to Board members and residents, and sending internal town business e-mails to the Register-Star. They hired accountant Michael Torchia, who told them the deficit was about the same, just slighty more.

Columbia and Greene pork
From The Albany Times-Union
The Times-Union is tracking the pork projects approved by New York legislators for Columbia and Greene counties:
Columbia County:
STUYVESANT FIRE DISTRICT ONE $10,000 GORDON-T STUYVESANT
VALATIE FIRE DEPARTMENT $6,000 GORDON-T VALATIE
NORTH CHATHAM FREE LIBRARY $5,000 GORDON-T NORTH CHATHAM
KINDERHOOK MEMORIAL LIBRARY $4,000 GORDON-T KINDERHOOK
TOWN OF NEW LEBANON $3,000 GORDON-T NEW LEBANON
AIDS COUNCIL OF NORTHEASTERN NEW YORK, INC. FAIRVIEW PLAZA – $2,500 GORDON-T HUDSON
LEBANON VALLEY BUSINESS ASSOCIATION $2,500 GORDON-T NEW LEBANON
COLUMBIA GREENE COMMUNITY COLLEGE $10,000 MOLINARO HUDSON
WEST GHENT FIRE COMPANY $7,500 MOLINARO GHENT
PHILMONT FIRE COMPANY $5,500 MOLINARO PHILMONT
GREENPORT POLICE DEPARTMENT $4,800 MOLINARO HUDSON
HUDSON VALLEY AGRI-BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CORP. $4,000 MOLINARO HUDSON
GREENPORT PUMPER COMPANY NO. 1 $3,600 MOLINARO HUDSON
CITY OF HUDSON $3,500 MOLINARO HUDSON
CITY OF HUDSON YOUTH DEPARTMENT $3,000 MOLINARO HUDSON
COLUMBIA COUNTY RIDE PROGRAM $3,000 MOLINARO HUDSON
HUDSON VALLEY AGRI-BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CORP. $3,000 MOLINARO HUDSON
HUDSON CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT $2,500 MOLINARO HUDSON
VFW POST 1314-HUDSON $2,500 MOLINARO HUDSON
HUDSON POLICE DEPARTMENT $2,000 MOLINARO HUDSON
THE OLANA PARTNERSHIP $1,300 MOLINARO HUDSON
CHATHAM HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER $500 MOLINARO CHATHAM
Columbia-Greene Community College $50,000 Saland Hudson
R.I.D.E. Program $9,000 Saland Hudson
West Ghent Volunteer Fire Company $7,500 Saland Ghent
North Chatham Free Library $5,000 Saland North Chatham
Greenport Pumper Co. No. 1, Inc. $3,600 Saland Hudson
Greene County:
TOWN OF NEW BALTIMORE TOWN HALL – $7,500 GORDON-T HANNACROIX
VEDDER RESEARCH LIBRARY $5,000 GORDON-T COXSACKIE
HEERMANCE MEMORIAL LIBRARY $2,500 GORDON-T COXSACKIE
Greene County Industrial Development Agency $18,500 Seward Coxsackie
Greene County Pop Warner Football Association, Inc. $5,000 Seward South Cairo

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.)