Greene gains, Columbia barely loses population

Marist College’s Bureau of Economic Research just released an “Economic Report of the Hudson Valley.” Some interesting facts: “During the two-year period ending in 2008, total migration into and out of Columbia County resulted in a net loss of 31 households and a $27.12 million increase in adjusted gross income (AGI)” and during that same time, “total migration into and out of Greene County resulted in a net gain of 247 households and $15.50 million in adjusted gross income (AGI).” Ulster and Sullivan were the only other Mid-Hudson counties with population gains from 2006-2008. H/T The Daily Freeman.

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Columbia County assesments online

From Carole Osterink’s The Gossips of Rivertown:

Assessments–the actual assessments for 2009 and the tentative assessments for 2010, for all properties in Hudson as well as the rest of the county–are now available online, accessed from the Columbia County website. Starting today, May 11, Garth Slocum, assessor for the City of Hudson, will be available at the Central Firehouse, 77 North Seventh Street, to meet with people to discuss their assessments. He will be there every weekday except Wednesday up until Grievance Day on May 25. Today he’s not expected to be at the firehouse until 11. I have been told that henceforward he will be there from 9 to 12:30 and again from 2:30 to 5. No appointments are necessary.

Palenville’s pagans

In The Watershed Post, Julia Reischel has an excellent, long feature about Cathryn Platine and The Maetreum, a three-story former inn once known as Central House, is run by a non-profit called the Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater (MCMM). While the IRS recognizes the Palenville pagan enclave as a non-profit religion, the Town of Catskill wants the $12,627.35 in property tax on The Maetreum, and Platine is taking them to court. Reischel’s story can be boiled down to a few paragraphs:

“We’re not saying they’re not a religious organization,” [Catskill Town Assessor Nancy] McCoy says. “We’re saying the property’s use does not meet the requirement for full tax exemption.” To qualify, a religious group has to show that it is using the property primarily for religious purposes — and that’s where the Maetreum fails, she says. According to [Town lawyer, Daniel] Vincelette’s report, the Maetreum is really a gender-bending housing project: “The primary purpose of the property is residential, to house and shelter transgendered individuals,” it concludes. “I read through that document and felt strongly that they were not entitled to the exemption,” McCoy says. Platine doesn’t deny that before formally becoming the seat of the Maetreum’s faith, the inn was used as an emergency shelter for homeless transsexual women. (Platine herself is intersexed, and has been a transgender activist for decades.) But the inn ceased functioning as a shelter years ago, she says, and now only three people, all priestesses of Cybele, live there. Vincelette says that the Maetreum isn’t the only religious group to have its land taxed; last year, he says, the town put land owned by the Catholic church that wasn’t being used for religious purposes on the rolls as well. “Every single religious group in the town of the Catskill is being treated the same,” he says. “Unfortunately, I think there is a lot of anger on Cathryn’s part. I don’t think she fully understands the legal issues.” Read the entire story in The Watershed Post.

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.