Letters to the Editor September 8
Go-carts should be a no go
The terrible idea of having go-carts on Route 44 in Millerton is like a cat with nine lives — it keeps coming back, despite having been rejected by all of the various town bodies time and time and time again, ever since it was first proposed in 1999.
It has also been resoundingly rejected by taxpayers and voters — in fact 182 of us signed a petition against the go-carts that was submitted to the North East Town Board just a little more than a year ago. What has changed? Nothing. We urge the Town Board not to waste any of their valuable time on what remains a very bad idea.
As an editorial in The Millerton News said more than a year ago, “let’s put the brakes on this go-cart proposal once and for all.” Perhaps as Town Board member Carl Stahovec suggested at the Aug. 11 Town Board meeting, it is indeed time “to put it in our code that go-carts are just not allowed.
After 12 years, having this subject opened up year after year for discussion is a big waste of time, energy and taxpayer’s money.
School board had nothing to do with reassessment
The Webutuck Central School District Board of Education held a special board meeting on Aug. 23 and adopted the 2011-12 tax levy after a lengthy discussion. The members of the board were very upset, finding themselves in the situation of having to adopt an action that negated their hard work from their budget season.
During budget season, they were extremely frugal with the district’s finances, made cuts wherever possible and held the line in an effort to bring a final tax levy that only had a 1.98 percent increase in it. However, at the meeting much of their discussion revolved around the tax rates and apportionments that were given by each town within the school district by the towns and their assessors.
Of much concern was the recent property revaluation in the town of North East. The result of the property value change shifted the tax burden significantly. This was not done by the school district.
School officials raised their concern about the burden placed on the residents of the town of North East. Residents adopted the school budget in May based on the projected tax levy increase of 1.98 percent ($235,943), which is the amount that was being raised locally for the minor increase in the school system’s budget. However, due to the shift in land values by the town and its assessors, the town of North East will carry all of the increase and even more over the entire district. Other towns will see reductions.
The STAR program will still be in place for the 2011-12 tax season but is now being limited by new state law. The school board questioned why any town would consider, let alone act upon, raising assessment values during a down year in the economy. Traditional wisdom concerning this would predict an adverse affect on taxes, especially for farm owners, senior citizens and people on fixed incomes.
The school board found itself a victim of this decision by the town and its assessors, since their tax bill will be the very first one received by local property owners even though the school board had nothing to do with the assessments and the tax rates. The school board did their job correctly by keeping their actual budget-to-budget increase below 2.3 percent.
Another impact of this value shift is the effect of possible court challenges in the future. As people might consider filing property value reduction claims, if they are successful, the school district will be directly required to produce such refunds.
In those decisions, the result is a loss of revenue in this year’s school budget, not in those of the town. Some claims linger in the courts for years, and multiple-year refunds directly impact the school. Finally, as these reductions are made final, the land value shortage will then be shifted to other land owners.
State aid to the school system is also affected by this process. Two major factors come into the formula for state funding of schools — land wealth and income. The higher the land wealth and/or income of a school district appears on paper as compared to the state averages, the less state aid is given to the school district.
Last year, Webutuck Central School was well over the state averages for local wealth and income according to the state, and the increase in the town of North East will have an additional negative effect on state aid to the school system for next year and in years to come.
All of this happens even though the school system did not drive any of the factors that caused this to happen.
On another note, to all of the parents, grandparents and Webutuck citizens, I am very pleased to announce to you that the Webutuck Central School District’s Board of Education has been very successful with their efforts over the summer to bring the school district forward for a very solid beginning for the new school year.
Mr. Jay Curtis Jr. has been appointed by the board to serve as our new intermediate school principal for grades fourth to eighth. Mr. Curtis began working in the district last week.
On Tuesday, Aug. 30, the board appointed a new permanent school superintendent, Mr. James Gratto Jr. He, too, joined the district immediately; he started last week.
At this time, the school system is fully staffed and ready to begin classes.
As your interim superintendent, I wish to thank you and the board for allowing me to serve you over the summer. It has been my pleasure to work in your school system. I see outstanding things happening in the near future for your children and the entire school system. This is a very special school district with a very bright future.
Webutuck School District
North East reassessment was fair and accurate
By now, all taxpayers in North East and Millerton should have received their school tax bills for the upcoming year. In addition, some residents may have also received an email from the Webutuck School Board that begins by explaining that the school tax levy has been increased by less than 2 percent.
While such efforts are to be commended, the letter regrettably goes on to question the wisdom and conduct of North East’s reassessment. Setting aside the impropriety of the board’s intrusion into the governmental affairs of our town, many of its criticisms are without substance.
First, the board claims its frugality has been negated or victimized because the reassessment caused what is described as a “significant” reallocation of the district’s taxes to North East and away from the district’s other towns. Although there has been a small shift, our reassessment of property has had absolutely no effect upon the amount or increase of the school tax levy because assessments are only the means by which the levy is apportioned.
Without commenting upon the fairness of this reallocation, the board summarily concludes that any such change is an “adverse effect” of a reassessment that never should have been considered, let alone conducted. By suggesting that North East would have been better off had it ignored the undeniable inequity within its tax rolls, the board implicitly asks the taxpayers of this and other towns to continue bearing an unfair tax burden.
Statements such as these demonstrate why such allocation considerations are properly left to the assessors of the respective towns and not to a board that is supposed to represent all district taxpayers equally.
As to the significance of the shift, North East’s allocation of the school district’s tax levy has only risen from approximately 37.75 percent of the total levy in 2010 to 39.50 percent in 2011. (It is noteworthy that a nearly identical shift away from North East was seen in 2007 when Amenia conducted its own full market value reassessment.)
Contrary to the board’s assertions, the increase in this allocation will only be shouldered by those parcel owners in North East who had previously been under-assessed, as is evidenced by the near 6 percent drop in our town’s school tax rate.
Second, the board alleges, but provides absolutely no proof, that farm owners, senior citizens and people on fixed incomes have all been adversely affected by this reassessment.
The new tax roll, which is available for inspection at any time in my office, clearly shows that many farmers, seniors and others have seen decreases in their taxes on account of this reassessment. Such an outcome is not surprising since the reassessment was performed with respect to a property’s market value, not its owner’s identity.
Third, the board raises the possibility of extensive court challenges by taxpayers who disagree with their new assessments.
As has been reported in prior news articles, relatively few grievances were filed in response to the reassessment. The deadline for filing court challenges has long passed and my office has received only four tax certiorari cases. Therefore, this matter will not present any unusual problems to the school district.
Last, the board states as a matter of undisputed fact that our district’s school aid will be decreased as a direct result of this reassessment’s increase in “land wealth.”
While this may have some basis in truth, the reassessment’s impact on state aid is entirely impossible to predict because of the large number of other factors that are considered by the school aid formula. In any event, state law prohibits me from considering such effects when assessing property. Accordingly, it would have been improper for me to abstain from reassessing or manipulate my reassessments in an effort to “game” the state aid formula for the benefit of our school district.
Notwithstanding all of the criticism, this reassessment has restored equity to our tax rolls by valuing all properties at their full market value. If that corrective action has caused a small shift in our town’s allocation of school taxes, then we must be willing to accept that responsibility. In the end, fair is fair.
Assessor for North East and Millerton
Rebillard is Republican candidate for Amenia assessor
I am running on the Republican line for sole assessor in the town of Amenia. The GOP primary is on Tuesday, Sept. 13, from noon to 9 p.m., and I would like to ask Republicans in Amenia for their vote.
With America’s economy lagging, these are very difficult times for the real estate market and property owners. Property values have plunged in the past few years, and I want to champion tax relief in these tough times. I currently do several property evaluations a week, and my 20-plus years of real estate experience, including doing appraisals on properties, and my extensive knowledge of the area and expert eye on market trends make me best qualified for the position.
If elected, my top priority is to be accessible to property owners. I will encourage them to contact me by email and phone with questions and concerns, and I will be more than happy to schedule a time to meet with them and go over their assessments. I love doing research and through my real estate affiliations I have extensive tools that can help me answer the more difficult questions. I pride myself on finding the right answers, particularly when it involves the financial interests of others.
I will keep well-maintained data, take the necessary continuing education courses and keep equity among the parcels in town. Although the assessor’s position is independent of the Town Board, I will be accessible to listen to their recommendations and report to them on a regular basis.
I am a lifelong resident of Amenia who began working in real estate in New York City in 1985. I returned to Dutchess County and worked in East Fishkill and Amenia before opening my own office, Dutchess Country Realty, in Millerton in 1989. I have worked as a certified real estate appraiser, too. In 2000, I expanded my real estate office to focus solely on selling real estate in eastern Dutchess County and southern Columbia County. My wife, Jeanne, and I live in Wassaic with our two sons, Andrew and Adam.
To my fellow Republicans in Amenia, I would appreciate your vote on Sept. 13. If elected, I look forward to serving you.
If you have any questions regarding my candidacy, please contact me at 845-373-8832 or email me at Brad@dutchesscountry.com.
Candidate for Sole Assessor, town of Amenia
Owner, Dutchess Country Realty
A round of applause for the Divas
Thank you and kudos to Michael Berkeley, TriArts staff (and that means everyone involved) and all the Divas who “did” the red carpet at the Saturday matinee on Aug. 27.
What a wonderful surprise it was to find out that even though Sunday’s performance had to be canceled it would be replaced by a 3 p.m. show on Saturday. The Divas do not normally do a matinee, and it is understandable as there is so much work involved and energy expended that it can’t be easy to do two shows in a day.
Everyone is to be commended for getting the troupe together on short notice and giving the audience a wonderful thrill on a dreary weekend. Many thanks, keep up the good work and I look forward to next year’s season.
Lions Club raises money for locals
The Millerton Lions Club is holding the third annual Fall Harvest Silent Auction with hors d’oeuvres and desserts on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the American Legion Post 178 in Millerton, from 4 to 6 p.m. Tickets for the event are $5 and can be purchased at Saperstein’s and Moore and More Printing. We are again asking for your support by making a donation of an item or a gift certificate for the silent auction. Last year we received 105 items for the silent auction due to the generous donations from the community.
The Lions Club and its members work year round on community activities that benefit the local area. Projects include providing annual scholarships for our youth, highway cleanup and displaying flags in the village on the holidays. We also make donations to vital resources such as the Adopt-a-Family program, the local food pantry, the Battered Women’s Shelter, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, as well as eye exams, hearing testing, glasses and many other services.
We ask for your support in helping raise the funds so that we may continue to keep these critical programs going. In these uncertain economic times, more and more citizens need access to these services and we need your assistance now more than ever.
In the coming weeks, Lions will be visiting local businesses to collect any contributions you may have for the silent auction. If you would prefer to make a monetary donation, checks can be made payable to the Millerton Lions Club and mailed to Millerton Lions Club, PO Box 473, Millerton, NY, 12546. Businesses and individuals that contribute to the auction will be acknowledged as sponsors in the event’s program.
On behalf of the members of the Millerton Lions Club, we would like to express our sincere appreciation for your continued support and generosity.
We are eager to serve North East
We have been nominated as the Democratic candidates for Town Board. This letter is a brief introduction of us for the voters in the town of North East.
We would first like to thank the Democratic caucus for nominating us. We will do our best to justify their confidence in us.
We are running for Town Board because we believe town government needs open government, fairness, civility and a vision. Having observed the Town Board over the years and especially for the last two years, we believe the town deserves better.
• Open government. Decisions must be made openly. They cannot be made in secret and then presented to the public. The citizens must be given explanations of decisions.
• Fairness. People who volunteer their time and energy for our boards and who are essential to our community need to be treated with consideration and respect.
• Civility. It is unacceptable to have a board where the board members are shouting at each other and using vulgar language.
• Vision. North East once could stay the same by doing nothing, but that is no longer the case. The board needs a vision of what the future should bring. In our view, the ideal would be to preserve our rural and agricultural nature; to control the inevitable development so that it is consistent with the existing community; to expand the vibrant retail community in the village; and to help provide jobs and affordable, appropriate housing for seniors.
We look forward to meeting you during the course of the campaign and we hope we will receive your support in the November election.
Gazzoli will run
This is to let my people know that despite the rumor, I am running for re-election this coming November and I am hoping for your continued support.
Town of Amenia
Perotti is supervisor candidate
I am running for the position of Amenia town supervisor because I want to give back to the community where I have lived for many years. While in my second term of office as councilwoman, and the last two years as deputy supervisor, I have taken my responsibilities very seriously in order to make the right decisions using all available information. This has given me the opportunity to work with diverse groups and employ my problem solving skills.
We are in the worst economic crisis since the 1920s. I am campaigning for more efficient government with proper planning and cost assessments as well as looking at what we can do without. I want to hold the line on taxes, investigate shared services with the county, other municipalities and the Webutuck Central School District.
Furthermore, I will pursue more grants and incentives for improving energy efficiency at the Amenia Town Hall and for the aging Water Department infrastructure.
Finally, I will continue to support local business initiatives to create jobs, work in partnership with the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association to find ways to direct Rail Trail users to local businesses and promote the economic development of Amenia and Wassaic.
My business administration education from Dutchess Community and Marist colleges, local government experience and energy make me a well-qualified candidate for the honor and privilege of serving as the Amenia town supervisor, serving both Amenia and Wassaic. I would appreciate your vote in the Republican Primary on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Voting hours are from noon to 9 p.m. Thank you.
Merwin on the ballot for supervisor in North East
It is with great enthusiasm that I am announcing my candidacy for the position of town supervisor for the town of North East on the newly formed North East United Independent Party.
For those who do not know me, a brief introduction is in order. I am a lifelong resident of the area, having grown up in the town on a local dairy farm. I graduated from Webutuck High School in 1970. I graduated from SUNY Brockport in 1974 with a B.S. degree in health science and the University of Illinois in 1975 with an M.S. degree in health education. After teaching a short time in Illinois, I got the opportunity of a lifetime to come home and teach at Webutuck Central School. I retired after 30 years, but have since come back to contribute on a part-time basis. I really missed teaching!
My wife, Debbie, and I have two grown daughters, Melissa and Sarah. We also are proud grandparents. We were also blessed with the opportunity to be able to move back to the town that my parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters grew up in.
What can I bring to the Town Board? I have a strong history of service to the town. I have been a councilman on both the Amenia Town Board as well as the North East Town Board. I have been a member of the Planning Board and am currently a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. I have served as a firefighter and EMT on the Millerton Fire Department, in addition to the Amenia Fire Department.
I also served three years as the president of the Webutuck Teachers Association. The experience of dealing with issues involving teachers, administration and attorneys certainly gave me valuable experience.
Any of these people would say that I possess the ability to understand issues and to approach them fairly.
I strongly feel now, and have always felt, a need and obligation for community service. In fact, if elected, I feel that the strongest need that our community faces is the need to see more people involved in our community life. This not only implies more people serving on our boards and committees, but in our many volunteer groups as well. The beauty of our small town is seeing our friends and neighbors involved in our community life.
Having worked in a profession for almost 35 years that necessitates being able to interact successfully with many people, I feel I can definitely work well with our Town Board. This town is facing many difficult issues and it’s essential that a supervisor have the ability to establish a strong and fair working relationship with the members of the Town Board.
In order to achieve a respectful, responsible working relationship, it is essential to create and maintain a strong degree of openness and transparency. Board members need to know and understand all of the interactions that a supervisor may have been involved in.
Finally, there are many issues facing the town of North East today. In fact many of these issues have “sat on the table” or have been neglected. This and the state of the economy have only served to complicate matters.
In conclusion, with a lot of thought and concern for our town, I am “throwing my hat into the ring” and plan to run for the office as supervisor. I hope in the months to come to meet many of the people in the town, those I know and many that I hope to know. In the coming months, I plan to connect with all of you and together we can secure the future of this great township we call home.
Sherman up for re-election
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Democratic Party of Millerton and North East for nominating me as their party’s candidate for town supervisor. I feel honored to receive again this expression of their faith and confidence in my leadership.
I am very grateful for the support I have received from Democratic voters throughout my service to the public. This year is especially important to me. It marks the third time in eight years that their caucus, when faced with a competitive choice for supervisor, selected me as their candidate.
I applaud the party’s organization of the caucus. It was a model of orderly conduct of business and maintained a respectful tone. My only regret is that I have been delayed in sending these greetings to you due to my commitments to our town’s preparations and response to Hurricane Irene.