Andes states opposition to proposed state tax freeze

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By Matthew J. Perry
The Andes Town Board passed a resolution Tuesday that explicitly opposes and criticizes a proposed, across-the-board freeze on the taxes levied on state-owned lands.
Supervisor Marty Donnelly used numbers to illustrate the potential impact on small communities. He noted that there are 103 state-owned parcels in the Town of Andes, which were assessed at a value of $24,548,340 in 2008. The town collected $148,755 in taxes on those parcels.
The resolution expresses continued support for the state park system but objects to what potentially could be a shift of the real property tax burden to town residents, many who are already struggling under the burden of the current tax code.
Donnelly intended to send a copy of the resolution to Assemblyman Clifford Crouch and State Senator John Bonacic as part of an effort to encourage the legislature to oppose the governor’s proposal. The resolution also encourages Gov. Paterson to meet with municipal leaders to better understand the potential impacts of the freeze.
The board passed a second resolution that addressed another potential crisis as the state reckons with an enormous budget deficit. Concluding that other cuts could “cripple the New York health care system,” particularly programs that serve low-income residents and seniors, the resolution calls on the state legislature to ensure that federal funding for Medicare services and other stimulus revenue be used to offset the proposed cuts.
The desperate economic climate has affected other aspects of town business. Donnelly announced that a 2008 forecast for cell towers to be erected in Andes in the first quarter of 2009 has not come to pass. JNS Towers, LLC, which acts as a liaison between municipalities and wireless service providers, informed Donnelly that Crossroads Wireless, which had expressed an intention to make regional investments, is no longer planning any sites in Delaware County. JNS is hoping to generate interest with other carriers, but there are no official negotiations in place at this time.
In town business, the board accepted the resignation of Debbie Bene from her position as clerk of both the planning board and zoning board of appeals “with personal regret.” Donnelly acknowledged Bene’s full-time commitments had made her situation untenable, but acknowledged that “it’s a shame to lose her.”
JoAnn Boerner was named as Bene’s replacement on both boards. Donnelly also announced an increase in fees for planning board applications after that board’s chairman, Frank Winkler, concluded that administrative costs were barely covered by fees collected. The charges for minor and major subdivision plans were raised to $50; final plans for a major subdivision stand at $100, plus $10 per lot; inspection fees will run to no more than two percent of the cost of necessary repairs; special permits and site plan reviews will also be $50; and additional public hearings will cost $25.
The board also unveiled existing plans to secure grant money from several sources. Noting that the governor rescinded funds earmarked for a Route 28 corridor improvement program last year, Donnelly announced that Andes will participate, along with five other municipalities, in a joint application for a Catskill Watershed Corporation grant that could secure $50,000 for Route 28 corridor management. The Town of Olive has been designated lead agency in the project and would administer any funds that are secured.
Donnelly also noted Delaware Opportunities (DO) has resources available for first time homebuyers and encouraged eligible Andes residents to explore the agency’s programs. It was also announced that representatives from DO will hold public hearings at noon on the days of the town board’s March and April meetings to discuss a Block Grant application that the town agreed to join in August of last year.