Millbrook Road Bridge Replacement Project
We are proceeding with replacement of the bridge on Millbrook Road. The bridge has been closed since being declared unsafe by the State Bridge Authority back in 2010. The closure has resulted in disruption of traffic flow in the area and has caused increased traffic on nearby town roads (such as Orchard Rd). If the increased traffic were to continue long-term, affected roadways would need to be re-engineered to handle the increased traffic – resulting in a significant cost to town taxpayers.
To help keep costs as low as possible, our talented town highway department will be doing a lot of work on the replacement project. The project will be funded through municipal bond. We will continue to aggressively pursue grant opportunities to pay down the bond.
Work will begin on the new bridge as soon as bids are awarded. The work is expected to be completed by September 15, 2015 – when the DEC stream disturbance permit expires.
The Town Board is actively seeking a grant writer to assist with identifying and applying for grant opportunities that may be used by town departments to defray operational costs and projects. We have narrowed the applications down to three and will soon interview the applicants before making a recommendation to hire. The grant writer will be paid with funding allocated in the 2015 budget and will be asked to immediately investigate funds made available by the State of New York.
In our continuing effort to make town government as efficient as possible, we are proceeding with plans to reduce the number of Town Assessors by two – replacing the current three elected Assessors structure with a single, appointed Assessor. The sole Assessor will be appointed by the Town Board on an annual basis. This will streamline operations and result in a cost savings to town taxpayers.
Town Park Improvements
In the 2015 budget, we were able to set aside funds for some much-needed improvements to the Town Park on Church Street. Upgrades have been made to the pavilion and the pavilion kitchen area. Additional work has been completed on the ball fields, including the installation of new sod. Many thanks to our town highway crew for their work on these projects.
Use of the town park is at an all-time high. The pavilion is booked almost every weekend this summer and registrations for the summer youth program have been very strong. The Claverack Republican Club will once again this year offer free concerts on Thursday evenings during the months of July and August as part of their Summer Concert Series. The concerts are free of charge and some tasty eats are always available for purchase. Bring a chair some (or every) Thursday night and enjoy the entertainment.
Public Safety / Emergency Services
Last year, we transitioned responsibility of town court security from the County Sheriff’s Office over to the Philmont Police Department. This change resulted in a savings of over $30 per hour for court security – nearly half of our town court budget. The new shared-service arrangement has worked out very well to date. Town Justices are pleased with the service being provided by Philmont PD.
We recently met with the fire departments that provide fire protection to the town in an effort to hear and assess their immediate and future needs. It is our objective to support the volunteers to ensure their needs are met, while also ensuring the best and most cost effective service possible is delivered to town residents. The departments have begun working together toward mutual goals (such as enhanced mutual aid coverage utilizing a town task force response), with the goal of sharing services where possible. We will continue to work with the departments on this.
As was mentioned above, we continue to encourage the fire departments to develop shared-service arrangements to improve response and reduce costs. The same is true of our highway department who has assisted in shared-services projects with the towns of Greenport, Taghkanic, Ghent, Stockport, the Village of Philmont, and the County Highway Department. These arrangements are a win-win for the departments involved, and also help us to meet the requirements of new state standards for tax-relief. Meeting the Governor’s shared-service standards affords town taxpayers tax rebates that wouldn’t otherwise be available. So it’s important that we continue to work on this.
We continue to investigate all available options to minimize rate increases to users of our town water district in the hamlet. This might include expanding to new users, investing in our own wells, and/or consolidating the district under the auspices of one large county water district. All options are on the table as we continue to explore this issue.