Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
January 22, 2010 Issue
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Ted Waddell | Democrat

Town of Liberty Councilman Maurice Gerry listens during last Monday’s meeting. Having decided to run as a write-in candidate after reportedly having differences with the Town of Liberty Democratic Committee, Gerry did not receive enough votes and will leave after serving 16 years on the board.

Liberty holds down taxes to 'modest' rise

By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY — By a 3-2 vote at this past Monday’s meeting, the Town of Liberty board passed the $8,444,048 preliminary budget for 2010. The amount to be raised by taxes is $5,262,000 and will entail a 2-21⁄2-percent tax increase.
The total budget for 2009 was $8,330,203 with $5,141,720 raised in taxes.
Originally, the board was looking at a tax hike of 7-8 percent, but “after line items deductions were made the board was able to reduce the budget to an acceptable amount without reducing any wages or essential municipal services,” according to a release.
The highway department received the lion’s share of the funding. The budget calls for $2,546,288 in department appropriations for 2010, compared with $2,490,718 in 2009.
Supervisor John Schmidt, joined by Councilmembers Clarence Barber and Tom Hasbrouck, voted for the budget. Opposed were members Maurice Gerry and Lynn Killian.
At a board meeting last month Killian had spoken out against a 50 percent cut (from $25,000 to $12,500) to the Liberty Community Development Corporation (CDC). She commented, “The CDC was established as a result of the Liberty Economic Action Plan in 2004. Its purpose is to improve economic and social conditions. It is responsible for three core areas of development: Economic, Youth and Housing. These are the cores identified by Liberty residents through well attended workshops.
“These areas of development play a significant role in our Comprehensive Plan. The CDC has helped the Village, Town and others in obtaining grants, loans and more, in an effort to achieve these goals,” she added. “Our investment buys us the successes of completed projects, improved quality of life in Liberty, and savings for our taxpayers. Cutting this line clearly indicates a lack of understanding of the CDC’s value.”
Last year the CDC, whose budget is about $150,000, also received $25,000 each from the Village of Liberty and the Gerry Foundation. CDC Executive Director Heinrich Strauch – the CDC’s only full-time employee – expressed fears that his other funding sources might also follow the town’s lead.
Projects big and small
Glenn Gidaly, a senior project manager with Barton & Loguidice, an environmental engineering and planning firm, presented a proposal for “special project services related to the development of a pre-application package for affordable financing to improve Swan Lake Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) through the USDA Rural Development Agency.”
Noting the purpose of the pre-application process is to determine if the project is eligible for loans/grants from the federal Rural Economic Assistance Program (REAP), Gidaly said of seeking grant money, “We’re in the seventh inning of a nine inning game.”
Matthew Palmer, project manager of the Delaney Group, the company in charge of the massive I-86 project surrounding Parksville, told the board that nighttime operations and construction has been halted in order to eliminate noise in the community.
He said that if the weather holds, construction is expected to continue through the middle of January 2010, and that once it’s shut down for the winter, traffic along Route 17 eastbound will be limited to one lane while both westbound lanes will remain open.
Plea for waste fee
District 6 legislator Jodi Goodman made a pitch for the county’s new plan to charge all residents of the county an annual fee of about $180 for garbage, adding, “the commercial piece has been a struggle, it hasn’t been worked out yet.”
“It’s still a work in progress,” she added, likening the county’s garbage assessment to “a fire district charge, and that 4,700 properties are in a category “very hard to figure out a formula” for billing, and that bungalow colonies and summer camps are include in the plan.
“Less garbage and more recycling, that’s the key to the formula,” added Goodman.

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