Andes starts 2012 with a 'new' board

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By Pauline Liu
From the way Andes residents crowded into their town board meeting last Tuesday afternoon, you’d think that something sensational was going to happen. In fact, to the community-minded residents of Andes, something really big was underway.

The first town board meeting of the year was in session. The new Town Clerk, Kimberly Tosi, and the two new board members, Wayland “Bud” Gladstone and Tom Hall, were in place. Many of those in the audience, felt they simply needed to see the changes in town government for themselves.

One of first orders of business was to approve sending Tosi for training, at a cost of $430. The money wasn’t budgeted, but Tosi said the three-day event was important.

“If I don’t go, I won’t be able to selling hunting and fishing licenses,” she said. The five-member board voted unanimously to take money out of a contingency fund to pay for her training sessions in Albany. She wants residents to know that she has a new e-mail address, where she can be contacted, andestownclerk@catskill.net. 

The town board also moved swiftly and voted to prevent a land trust from buying some of the 7,500 acres of available land in Andes. According to Supervisor Marty Donnelly, the land trust assists the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in obtaining land which it cannot otherwise purchase and he did not mince words about his position on the issue.

“I do not think they (the land trust) should be allowed to buy land that NYC wants to buy, but can’t because there’s a structure,” said Donnelly. “I don’t recommend this. I don’t think this is in our best interest. They (the land trust) have an agreement that the city will buy that land or pay them back for later date,” Donnelly added.

Four members of the town board voted against allowing the land trust to buy land in Andes. Gladstone abstained from the vote. He explained that he sold an easement to the city, which might present a conflict of interest.  

In other news, town officials are appealing the decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA turned down the town’s request to be reimbursed for nearly $300,000 worth of flood damage repair. The project involved replacing a large culvert, which was damaged by flood. It’s located at the intersection of Holiday Brook and Gulf Brook roads. Half of the culvert is located in Colchester. Donnelly explained that ironically, FEMA has already agreed to pay Colchester back for its half of the culvert project. The supervisor told the gathering that he has asked Senator John Bonacic and Congressman Chris Gibson to intervene on Andes’ behalf. He said Assemblyman Clifford Crouch has already sent a letter to FEMA on behalf of the town.

The board voted 3-to-2 to shorten the new lease for tax collector Margaret Moshier’s $200 a month office. They concluded that she only needed an office through May, which is when she collects taxes. Gladstone and Hall cast the dissenting votes, because they wanted the town to abandon the lease. Gladstone suggested that Moshier could either work at a town office or work at home, as previous tax collectors have done. The office space is located at Romo Machines, which is owned by Moshier’s son, Shane, a former town board member and his wife, Tina, who is the town assessor.

The lease was approved last month by the previous town board.  The decision to cut short the lease will save cash-strapped Andes $1,400 in 2012.

Supervisor Donnelly called the lease agreement, “a hit on the budget,” but he pointed out that elected officials are allowed to chose where to set up their offices. Gladstone called the lease “unnecessary.”

Deputy Supervisor Marty Liddle was the first to ask if the office was needed after May. While some members of the audience murmured their approval, the discussion angered Shane Moshier.

“That’s a hit on the budget, but for four years, it was rent free, if you want to have the seniors drive to the Barkaboom (where his mother lives), go ahead guys,” he shouted. “She collects taxes in May, but she answers the phone all year long,” he added. The town board plans to offer Moshier an office in the new court building, which is expected to be completed later this year. It will be located inside the Andes Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The town board also heard a presentation on the Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway by Peter Manning, who is the consultant on the project and Central Catskill Chamber Commerce Executive Director Carol O’Beirne. The issue has been sent to the Andes Planning Board for consideration. 

Donnelly closed out the meeting by asking for prayers on behalf of former Clerk Janis Jacques, who was hospitalized with pneumonia last week. This week, the supervisor gave an update on her condition. He said Jacques has been released from the hospital and is at home resting.
The next regularly scheduled Andes Town Board meeting is scheduled to be held at town hall on Tuesday, February 14 at 1 p.m.