FOUR FAMILIES HOMELESS AFTER PHILMONT BLAZE
Donations being accepted.
Four families are homeless after a huge fire ripped through an apartment building and a second home in the Village of Philmont. The fire was reported to Columbia County 911 Tuesday morning, shortly after 10 AM. The fire started at a row house on Block Street before spreading to a nearby home on Main Street.
The Philmont Fire Company was aided by several surrounding fire departments, with others providing standby coverage. All told, over 20 fire departments were involved with additional public safety agencies providing support at the scene.
The blaze left 14 people homeless. Various efforts have been organized to collect donations for those affected. More information on that below.
On behalf of the entire Town Board, I'd like to thank the Philmont Fire Company, the Mellenville Fire Company, A.B. Shaw, Churchtown and the many other mutual aid fire companies who responded to this terrible fire. We also thank the local businesses - like Mcnan's Variety Foods, High Falls Pizzeria, Cumberland Farms and others - who came together, as they so often do, to support the firefighters as they worked to extinguish the fire.
To help the families, consider donating in any of the following ways:
Our Community Cares
GoFundMe for the Wallace Family
GoFundMe for the Khan Family
GoFundMe for the Palumbo Family
SKIP SPEED HONORED FOR YEARS OF SERVICE
I was happy to join New York State Senator Daphne Jordan, incumbent Philmont Mayor Brian Johnson, Deputy Mayor Doug Cropper, past and present village officials and employees, and a host of friends and family to acknowledge and thank Philmont Mayor Skip Speed for his many years of service to the Village of Philmont at the Village's annual Organizational Meeting on Monday, April 5th.
Senator Jordan presented Skip with a New York State legislative proclamation, and I was honored to present him with a proclamation from the Columbia County Board of Supervisors.
Deputy Mayor Doug Cropper also honored Skip, on behalf of the Village Board, by handing over the blue sign that proclaimed his service as Mayor for years as you entered the village on Route 217.
We thank you Skip for your years of service, and look forward to working with the new Mayor and Village Board on joint projects of mutual benefit moving forward.
HOOKIE'S COOK'IN CHICKEN
Advance sale only -- get your tickets by April 17th.
Tickets are on sale now for the Claverack Republican Team Chicken Barbecue slated for April 29th at the Claverack Firehouse on Route 23.
This will be an advance sale only (no tickets at the door) / take-out only event.
Deputy Town Supervisor Steve Hook will be serving up his famous secret recipe barbecue chicken, complete with potato salad, coleslaw, dinner roll and drink.
Pick up will be 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm on the 29th.
This event will sell out!
Order your tickets by April 17th online here, or by calling 518-813-2516 or 518-851-7570.
TOWN ASSESSOR COMPLETES TOWN-WIDE REVALUATION
What do updated assessments mean for you?
Recently, Claverack property owners received a notice from Town of Claverack Assessor Charles Brewer regarding their new preliminary assessments. These assessments were the result of a town wide revaluation to bring all assessments up to current full-market value. It’s important that we understand what a revaluation does, and doesn’t do. I’ll try to explain. Read the full story here!
What do updated assessments mean for you?
Recently, Claverack property owners received a notice from Town of Claverack Assessor Charles Brewer regarding their new preliminary assessments. These assessments were the result of a town wide revaluation to bring all assessments up to current full-market value. It’s important that we understand what a revaluation does, and doesn’t do. I’ll try to explain that a bit below for you.
BACKGROUND -- It’s been ten years (2011) since the Town of Claverack completed a revaluation; a process that does not necessarily increase taxes, but rather revaluates everyone’s property to ensure no one is paying more than their fair share of the tax levy. All municipalities conduct revaluations to ensure compliance with State standards requiring that assessments be at a uniform percentage of market value. In other words, we need to make sure that property owner "John Jones" is paying the same percentage of value as property owner "Sally Smith." It’s simply about fairness and equity.
THE PROCESS -- The town wide reassessment project was a collaborative effort of the Town Assessor's office and the Columbia County Real Property Tax Service Agency. Columbia County assisted the Assessor with data verification, valuation support and guidance throughout the project.
In January 2020, data collectors began data verification and took photos for the Assessor of all parcels in the Town. In September 2020, a letter was sent to residential property owners which showed the inventory for their property; such as land size, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, pools, garages, sheds, etc. Property owners at that time were asked to review the data and return any corrections to the Assessor. The Assessor then reviewed the corrections and updated his file accordingly.
The final stage of the project was to value the properties based on the updated inventory. Once valuation was completed, notices of preliminary assessments/market value were mailed to all property owners in March 2021.
WHAT DOES A HIGHER ASSESSED VALUE MEAN FOR YOU -- First and foremost, it is expected that your assessment will rise over the course of ten years. This is perfectly normal. A higher assessment does not necessarily mean that your property taxes will go up. In fact, most property owner’s town taxes will stay the same or even go down – even though their assessments went up. Weird, right? Not really, if you understand the process. Let me try to explain.
Think of the total amount of taxes collected as a pie. A revaluation does not increase the size of the pie. The pie (tax levy) stays exactly the same. The revaluation simply ensures that the pie is cut up fairly; that taxes are fairly distributed based on current market values.
That said, you may feel that the Assessor is valuing your property for more than it’s worth, resulting in you paying more than your fair share of the tax burden. If that’s the case, keep reading for information on how to protest your assessment.
DISPUTING YOUR ASSESSMENT -- Let’s face it, you may not agree with the Assessor on the valuation of your property. In the 2021 Assessment Notification that was mailed to all property owners on March 18th and 19th, property owners who disagree with their preliminary assessment were advised to schedule an appointment to speak with a representative of the Assessor's office. All information/documentation from those meetings are forwarded to the Assessor and a final review of those assessments will be completed by the Assessor. Property owners that scheduled an appointment will receive the Assessor's decision in early May.
The tentative assessment roll will be filed on or about May 1, 2021 and will be published online. If any property owner at that time does not agree with their tentative assessment they can complete a grievance application (RP-524) and submit it to the Town Board of Assessment Review on or before Grievance Day, May 25, 2021.
I hope I’ve been able to help you better understand the revaluation process and what the end result may mean for you.
I’m including here a brochure from the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services, that addresses some of the frequently asked questions about the reassessment process.
I would encourage anyone with questions to contact the County Real Property Tax Service Agency, the Town Assessors office or a member of the Town Board.
We've worked hard to keep town taxes low, even cutting taxes the past several years. This revaluation project is not an attempt to raise taxes, I give you my word on that. It's simply about making sure that the existing tax burden is distributed fairly and equitably.
Again, if you have questions, please call the County Real Property Tax Service Agency and they'll help you understand the process. If you think the Assessor has your property valued too high, dispute your assessment following the steps outlined above.
The Town of Claverack has received a limited amount of cloth face masks (not medical grade) from the County to distribute for free to Claverack residents who have been unable to obtain them elsewhere.
A limited supply of these masks will be distributed in the Claverack Library Parking Lot on Saturday, April 25th, from 12:00 Noon until about 2:00 PM (or until we run out). Masks are also available at McNann’s on Main Street in Philmont for those of you that live closer to Philmont.
The masks come in packages of five, so we are limiting the distribution to one package per family. We encourage you to share any unneeded masks with someone who needs one. They are made of soft cloth and can be washed and re-used.
Per the State social distancing guidelines, we ask that everyone maintain at least a 6-foot distance from one another if you come to get a package.
Please note that if you cannot make it on Saturday, there will be a supply of these masks at the Town Office on Church St during the week. If you come to the office, our Town Clerk will come out and give you a package.
We apologize for the short notice, but we just received these and wanted to get them out into the community without delay.
Claverack Town Board
At the December meeting of the Claverack Town Council, the Town of Claverack became Columbia County’s first Purple Heart Community, joining other municipalities across the country along the symbolic Purple Heart Trail.
As a Purple Heart Community, Claverack pays tribute to our nation’s military service members who have been injured or killed in combat.
New York State Senator Daphne Jordan was on hand at the meeting to present the Town Board with a Senate Proclamation.
“This is a special honor for Claverack to be able to formally thank and pay tribute to our wounded military members,” said Claverack Supervisor Kippy Weigelt. “I thank Senator Jordan for her support of this program and her leadership on this and other veteran programs and issues. Most importantly, I thank all of our Purple Heart heroes – living and passed – for their service and great sacrifice.”
Senator Jordan’s office is working closely with local governments all across the 43rd Senate District in encouraging more localities to become Purple Heart Communities to help recognize the courage and sacrifice of the men and women of America’s armed forces.
To learn more about becoming a Purple Heart Community, e-mail Senator Jordan’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Town of Claverack has been designated a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), recognizing its leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs and driving clean energy locally.
Announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in August 2016, the Clean Energy Communities initiative supports local government leaders across the state by providing grants to eligible municipalities to implement energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable development projects in their communities.
The Town of Claverack received the designation for completing four of 10 possible high-impact clean energy actions identified by NYSERDA as part of the Clean Energy Communities initiative.
“We are so proud the Town of Claverack has achieved this designation. It will allow us to become more aware of energy efficiencies, lower are utility costs and take advantage of the technical support now available to our Town when working on future projects,” said Supervisor Kippy Weigelt.
“Congratulations to the Town of Claverack for making this important step towards a cleaner and more renewable energy future,” said Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA.
To earn the Clean Energy Community designation, the Town of Claverack completed the following high-impact clean energy actions:
Clean Energy Community Coordinators are available at no charge to help communities develop and prioritize clean energy goals, access easy-to-use resources such as guidance documents and case studies, and take advantage of available funding and technical assistance opportunities.
For more information on Clean Energy Communities, visit www.nyserda.ny.gov/cec. Local government officials or employees can find contact information for their respective coordinator here for assistance navigating the program.
Claverack taxpayers will see their third straight year of tax cuts in 2020 under the watchful eye and conservative budgeting practices of Town Supervisor Kippy Weigelt, Deputy Town Supervisor Steve Hook and fiscally conservative members of the Claverack Town Board.
The 2020 budget contains a tax decrease of 1.9%, the largest tax cut for Claverack taxpayers in recent history, and is more than $58,000 under the New York State Tax Cap.
The budget contains $2.7-million in spending.
While the budget includes significant cost savings to Claverack taxpayers, it also includes several upgrades and increases to meaningful town programs and services.
The budget includes a 2% raise to payroll and increases in the minimum wage. It also contains funding for assessment re-evaluation with the County, includes funding for additional park maintenance and repair costs and increases spending on senior programs.
“We’re focused on doing more with less,” said Town Supervisor Kippy Weigelt. “It’s not an easy job cutting the budget, but our taxpayers are at their limit. They need relief. We’ve done the hard work they elected us to do and we’re doing it without cutting services.”
The Town of Claverack has been able to control expenses through increased efficiencies, including consolidation of town positions and job duties, sharing services with other municipalities and creating a long term capital spending plan. At the same time, the town has made improvements and upgrades to infrastructure, town parks and highway equipment.
The Claverack Town Board Meeting scheduled for tonight has been canceled due to the snowstorm. The meeting will be rescheduled at a later date.
The snow is beginning to move out of the area, but roads remain snow covered and slick. It will dip down to the single digits tonight and with wind chills below zero. Gusty winds will cause blowing and drifting snow. Please stay safe and consider checking on elderly neighbors, friends, and family.
Additional updates will be posted to my Facebook page as needed.
PROGRESS! REPORT SHOW CLAVERACK'S FINANCIAL POSITION VERY SOUND
At the Monday May 23, 2016 monthly workshop meeting of the Claverack Town Board, officials received a briefing from A. Michael Bucci, CPA and Lisa Gill of the town’s accounting firm of Pattison, Koskey, Howe & Bucci, CPAs, P.C. During the workshop, Bucci and Gill provided financial highlights of the town’s 2015 operating results as summarized in the Annual Update Document (AUD) that is submitted by the firm on behalf of the town.
The information that Bucci and Gill presented was well received and generated discussion among the town board and its other elected officials in attendance. In summary, the Town of Claverack’s overall financial situation is very sound.
The town General A fund, which accounts for the general public services of the town, ended the 2015 calendar year with unassigned fund balance (savings) of $721,731 or 75% of the total budgeted appropriations for the town’s general fund. This was up approximately $66,000 from 2014. Better than projected revenues, in combination with the town’s keeping expenditures below budgeted levels, contributed to the successful 2015 financial year. Mr. Bucci explained that the conservative nature of the budget process for revenues, and the town board’s vigilance over expenditures, were the main reasons behind these results.
Mr. Bucci went on to praise town officials and staff for doing a very good job of controlling expenses despite many challenges. Reliance on savings (fund balance) is down significantly, putting the Town of Claverack in a healthy financial position.
Also in the May 23rd meeting, Ms. Gill discussed water usage and budget strategies for 2016 forward, and Mr. Bucci stressed the need for a memorandum of understanding with the town’s water supplier (neighboring Town of Greenport) to lock in rates for water usage at or below the cost of living increases.
Town Supervisor Clifford “Kippy” Weigelt thanked Bucci, Gill, and town officials for their part in moving Claverack in a positive financial direction.
“Safeguarding the people’s money is one of the most important things that we do as elected representatives,” said Weigelt. “Our team is doing a great job, working together, to control spending and reducing our dependency on cash reserves. We’re making good progress, and this report confirms that,” Weigelt added.
MILLBROOK ROAD BRIDGE – DONE!
After years of delay and indecision, the Millbrook Road bridge has been replaced and opened to traffic. This bridge was closed in 2010 due to extreme deterioration and has been closed ever since, forcing emergency services and local residents to use alternate routes. We made resolving the Millbrook Road bridge issue a top priority and are happy to be able to call this project complete. An official (ceremonial) opening of the new bridge is being planned for the near future.
LEARN TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR SMALL BUSINESS AT THE CLAVERACK LIBRARY
The Claverack Free Library invites all these people and other local entrepreneurs to two workshops on how to use Social Media for Small Business. Attendees at the first workshop on Thursday June 30 at 5:30 PM will learn about web sites and search engine optimization (SEO). The second workshop on Thursday July 14 covers Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Thumbtack, e-vites, list-serves, and blogs. More Info here.
HAMLET PARK BEAUTIFICATION PROJECT
A beautification project was initiated last year at the Claverack Hamlet Park at the intersection of Route 9H and Route 23, with the installation of a sculpture of potted flowers on the south side of the park. We’d like to begin planning additional upgrades to the park and are seeking interested individuals to sit on a committee to help brainstorm, design, and organize these upgrades. Donations are being sought as well. If you are interested in serving on this committee, please email email@example.com.
MICHAEL COZZOLINO APPOINTED CLAVERACK TOWN JUSTICE
Former Columbia County Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Cozzolino has been appointed Claverack Town Justice. Cozzolino fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Charles Hoag, who has served in the position since 2005. The appointment was made by unanimous vote at the May meeting of the Claverack Town Board.
Cozzolino, a life-long resident of Claverack, is a graduate of Columbia-Greene Community College, Marist College in Poughkeepie, and Albany Law School. He began his career in 1987 as a Columbia County Deputy Sheriff. After graduating from law school in 1996 Cum Laude, Cozzolino worked for 15 years as an Assistant District Attorney, including eight years as Chief Assistant District Attorney, at the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office. In 2011, Cozzolino left the District Attorney’s Office to pursue a career in private practice, specializing in criminal defense and Family Court matters.
Cozzolino resides in Claverack with his wife Robin and two children Gabriella and Anthony. He joins Claverack Town Justice Michael Brandon, serving in the busiest town court in Columbia County.
SHAW BRIDGE HISTORICAL MARKER DEDICATION
Residents are invited to join the Claverack Historical Society, the Claverack Historical Preservation Advisory Committee, and the Claverack Town Board for a dedication ceremony of the newly installed historical marker for the Shaw Bridge on Van Wyck Lane. The ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 28, 3:30 PM (rain date Sunday, May 29) at the north-end of the bridge (where Van Wyck Ln meets Shaw Bridge Rd).
A narration of the history of the bridge, classical guitar/flute ensemble (period music, c1870), and light refreshments are planned.
The historical marker was obtained through a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation “Historical Roadside Marker Program.” For additional information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
OTHER NEWS FROM AROUND TOWN
The new bridge on Millbrook Road is nearly complete. Crews will begin paving operations very soon and then reopen the bridge when that is complete.
The closure of the Route 9H/23 bridge at the Claverack/Greenport town line was pushed back a week to May 25th. That bridge is expected to remain closed until November.
Work continues to bring a shuttle bus service to Philmont. Formal requests have been made to the county and state and we are awaiting the State’s approval.
At the April meeting of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, I was honored to present the family of former Claverack Town Supervisor and long-time Civil Service Commissioner Stan Card with a proclamation on behalf of the Board, honoring Stan’s life and service to our residents. See video here.
The Board of Supervisors recently received an update from ECC Technologies, the firm contracted to draft a plan for the County to expand broadband telecommunication services, on their preliminary findings and recommendations. View the presentation to the Board here. There update may be downloaded here.
A reminder that the Town Board Meeting cancelled last week due to weather will be held tonight, 7:00 pm, at the Town Hall.
A draft agenda can be viewed here.
Hope to see you tonight!