While your Town Board was able to cut the 2015 budget about $127,000 from 2014, there is work to be done to avoid adding a town tax.
Even though we spent about $57,000 less in 2014 than in 2013, we still spent about $67,000 more than we brought in. This continues a trend of the past 5 years.
If reducing the size of government were easy, everyone would do it, right?
Regardless, I am pleased with departmental cost savings this year as well, and the willingness of the departments to do more with less.
The Town Board took a 20 percent cut in pay, as many of you know. The real property Assessor is doing her job well without an assistant and with a reduced budget.
Our tentative equalization rate remained at 85 percent in 2015, which means your property taxes should remain the same.
The planning clerk is working with a reduced budget and has accepted the added responsibilities of being an in-house grant writer. She completed her training and is busy looking for grant opportunities for our town. This is important work that should benefit our town and individual property owners.
We are looking at ways to improve services of the codes department during peak demand for construction inspections.
I would like to see us subcontract a qualified assistant as necessary. Toward this end we have interviewed a codes officer from an adjoining town to assist on an “as needed” basis. We would pay a fee, but no salary or benefits.
The Twin Bridges were bonded for another year at the great interest rate of 1.29%. The financed principal was reduced to $507,014.
We had a problem at Town Hall with water running through the roof into an upstairs office. This damaged some office equipment and furnishings. Upon further inspection, we found a long-standing structural issue with the roof rafters from a previous snow load incident in 1995.
This issue will have to be addressed, and I have asked for input from a structural engineer. Advice will be given as to the best and least expensive means of repair. We do not know if this is an insured loss at this time.
We purchased a new plow truck and it arrived last week. It is part of our standard 10-year replacement plan. We bond them for 5 years and are awaiting the rate at this time.
We have very few planned improvement projects this year but plan to continue maintaining as necessary.
I want to see the grounds maintained well again this year, but we will handle grounds maintenance in-house.
We have a new helper in maintenance and he is willing and able to assist with all maintenance projects. He will also take necessary courses to learn how to operate the water and sewer departments.
The board has decided to have both Dump Days at the Town Highway Garage on Route 28. This is due to the required space, safety and equipment issues. We are sorry for any inconvenience for you folks up north.
The board is working on this year’s Youth Program, and it is a work in progress.
We have however decided to continue sending our children to Camp Nazareth for one week at Town expense. I am suggesting a budget of $15,000. I believe this program should serve children who live in Forestport year-round first, then the relatives of taxpayers on a first-come/first-serve or lottery basis.
This is a great opportunity for our children to share in an experience of a lifetime and help preserve Camp Nazareth for future generations.
The North Lake Road property is in default. Our town attorney advises us not to take custody of the property until the lease expires on September 15, 2015, because of equipment in the building.
We do have access to and rights to maintain the property. I am advising the board to mow and clean up the property as best we can, and to put it for sale as soon as it looks presentable.
We would advise the new owner that they will not be able to take procession until September 15th.
I do not foresee the Town maintaining ownership, and we need to recoup the massive investment made in 2012 and 2013 to prepare the property for a new tenant.
Spring is finally here, and we hope your properties weather well. If there is anything I can do to assist you or address your concerns, please call my Town Hall office at 392-2801, extension 2. If I am not available to take your call, you will be directed to my cell phone.
Forestport Town Supervisor