Shandaken board hears requests for additions to the budget

By Jay Braman Jr.
Some taxpayers in Shandaken might like the tentative budget plan for next year that keeps taxes down. According to Supervisor/Budget Officer Rob Stanley, if you paid $2,000 in town property tax this year, you will pay $2,012 next year.
Good news for taxpayers yes. But good for town departments?
Some say no.

Last week the town board heard complaints that not enough is being spent to take care of problems.
Leading the way was Phoenicia water commissioner Ric Ricciardella, who warned that another pump was needed for the hamlet’s water system.
Ricciardella has been busy fixing leaks throughout the hamlet, and the reservoir has been repaired, he said. There’s also been lots of work done in the system’s filtration plant, but Ricciardella says that’s not enough.

“The two pumps we have are over taxed, they are 10 years old this year,” he said. “We were supposed to have another pump put in but we didn’t have enough money at the time. We need that third pump. If we don’t get this other pump and those two go, and they could go at the same time, we will not have any water in Phoenicia.”
But at a cost of $45,000, Stanley did not add it in to his spending plan for 2014.

“We’ve got to knock these problems off one at a time,” Stanley said.
“We don’t have any money,” said Councilman Vince Bernstein.
Next was Big Indian resident Robert Kalb, who manages the town’s museum in Pine Hill. The museum’s budget is set to increase less than $100 next year, from $6,800 to $6,896. That’s an increase of only 1.41percent.

“Funds are ready to run out and we need that museum open 52 weeks a year,” Kalb said.
Kalb said that the museum has stabilized over the past couple of years following trouble that caused it to be closed, but all that has been accomplished could be lost unless the town finds more money to pay the one staffer that keeps the place open.

Kalb complained that other departments like parks and recreation, town recycling and dog control get much more money than the museum does and that the board should examine its priorities.
“I guess they are more important than the town museum,” Kalb said. “Apparently the town has no interest in it.”

Next Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman Martie Gailes warned the town board that while playground equipment has a lifespan of between eight and 15 years, much of the equipment in the town parks is now about 30 years old.
“I’d like us to start thinking about replacing playground equipment because it is terribly expensive,” she said.
The 2014 budget is still tentative. There will be a public hearing on the plan next month.