Saturday, July 12, 2008

July 2008, already? Blog

I had started this blog and hoped to be done by 11:30 a.m. - it is almost 3:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon and I have not even gotten to the other work that I need to. Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know about a few of the things that we are doing...

Town Hall Presentations

I think that education (for all of us) and the exchange of information makes government work more efficiently. That is why we are hosting, and filming (for our Channel 22), a number of forums. They are:

July 17, 2008 7:00pm- Environmental Protection Agency:
This is a question / answer forum on the Hopewell Precision Superfund Site given by the EPA. All are welcome to attend.

July 21, 2008 7:00pm - 9:00pm: Dutchess County Legislative Environmental Committee:
The Town of East Fishkill is hosting a public forum by the Dutchess County Environmental Committee on July 21st at 7:00 PM at the East Fishkill Town Hall. Dutchess County Legislators Marge Horton, Rob Weiss, Alison MacAvery, David Kelly, Joel Tyner, and Peter Wassell, as well as Town Supervisor John Hickman, will be on hand to listen to the public regarding environmental issues of concern. This will be a good chance to discuss environmental issues with your Legislators; public input and suggestions are welcome. For more information contact Environmental Committee Chair Joel Tyner at 876-2488 or Deputy Environmental Committee Chair Peter Wassell at 350-1007.

July 29, 2008 7:00pm- 8:00pm: Dutchess County Cornell Cooperative Extension: invasive plants species in our area including the “mile-a-minute” vine.

We will also be hosting a presentation by our MS-4 Coordinator, Walter Artus, for contractors on Low Impact Development – all board members and the public are invited to attend – the date has not yet been set.

Speaking of Channel 22 – in addition to our presentations, we have been putting our Town Board and Planning Board meetings on television and hope to have the Zoning Board on soon.

Planning / Zoning

Our new Planners AKRF are getting up to speed very quickly. Their plan review has been excellent and we will be addressing several zoning laws that need attention. We are getting back on track with our Senior and Workforce Housing legislation and we will be (probably next year) be addressing plans for the Hamlet. In addition, we hope to adopt Town – approved policies and procedures that developers can implement in their design to provide development that is environmentally friendly and efficient.


Boy, this is a tough one – with the boneheads (that is being charitable) that created the mortgage mess and the speculators and manipulators (example: any little, even the smallest, oil – producing country says there MAY be a disruption and the price of oil jumps through the roof!) we are all hurting. I really do believe in smaller government (many of the positions and departments that we have created here are the result of passed-down legislation and unfunded mandates); but, I do think that government should protect and maintain the things that are essential for the people, such as fuel (heating, transportation, etc.) and regulate the markets so that crooks can’t make millions and pawn off the losses to the taxpayers. Did they blow it.

Anyway, I think that we operate pretty efficiently / frugally. Our Town Hall is forty years old – built by my Grandfather when he was Town Supervisor (people used to say “Lyn, why are you building such a big Town Hall?” I am glad he did, we are crowded – but it works). I don’t think that we are overstaffed and we are looking to provide services more efficiently (the water services that we subbed out has been a terrific savings). I would like to point out that if you look at the pie charts in our lobby – the School budget is between 65 to 76% of the tax bill while the Town is between 9 to 16%.

O.k., budgets are based on two things: expenses and revenues.

Expenses: As I said, I think that we are operating a pretty “bare bones” operation – still, we are currently receiving the budgets from each department and we will be meeting with department heads to cut expenditures that are not necessary. Presently our Police are fueling up at the Highway Garage which has saved us money from our previous arrangement with other vendors and we will be looking to see if we can find any savings in the Town insurance package. Fixed costs such as retirement and health benefits (these costs are set by the New York State Retirement System and the health providers that we have contracted with) have been increasing at an alarming rate over the last few years and if we can see some relief in them it will certainly help our budget picture.

Revenue: We need to increase our revenue. First, the Town Board and I are pushing to have services provided paid for by those that benefit. There have been changes to our recreation and sports programs to address this issue and we are looking to increase the fees charged by our Building Department; in addition, we have been pretty successful in obtaining grants (although as Federal and State budgets get tighter there be less grant money available) and we have more people contributing to the cost of health benefits. In fact we made some changes to health benefits, not only in contributions; but, also in length and type of coverage. Through the PILOT Program East Fishkill IBM provides between 7.5 and 8 million dollars in revenue – a large chunk of our School, County, Town, and Fire District budgets. One thing that I feel is very important is developing an industrial tax base. I know that it is not a popular idea, but the old IBM West Complex is empty. This is an industrially zoned property, over one hundred acres, which could potentially provide more tax revenue and, importantly, jobs.

My feeling, and the feeling of the Town Board, is that things are tough all over and we will do our best to keep our Town Tax reasonable. Hey, we are all in this together and, personally, I find the current economic situation very, very scary.

Shennandoah Water

IBM is fast completing the Shenandoah Water line to address the Shenandoah Superfund Site and should be turning that over to the Town by the end of the year. That pipeline has been upsized to allow the Town the ability to serve other areas along the Rt. 52 corridor and, as soon as we resolve some supply and storage issues, we will be looking to make that water available.

Brettview Water

Although we have tried to have iron and manganese filters installed by the owners of Rand Water for three years now, they still refuse to do so. It is the iron and manganese that reacts with the chlorine in the water that produces the silt and brown coloring of the water that we purchase from Rand to serve Brettview. We have discussed the matter with the Dutchess County Board of Health and they insist that the iron and manganese problems do not pose a health risk and that it is only a nuisance. We have gone so far as to propose the purchase of Rand Water so that we may install the filters ourselves (we have done a financial and operation analysis and this could be feasible), but the owners will only sell on their terms; terms which we cannot accept. We have identified another source close to Brettview which we are presently having tested and hope to bring this online to solve their water quality issues.

Presidential Way

Concurrently with our efforts to solve the Rand Water problem, we have been moving forward with the plan to bring water to Presidential Way. We hope to break ground as soon as possible – but the timetable rests entirely upon New York State Audit and Control. If the cost of the project to the homeowners is above a certain threshold an application must be made and approved by Audit and Control – a process which takes between six and nine months.

Article 78 Lawsuits

In the next few weeks we should be receiving rulings from the courts regarding the Town Board decisions not to close Philips Road and not to approve the rate increase requested by the Sagamor Sewerage Corporation.

Dogwood Flooding

I would like to thank Creekview and Rieger Homes for their participation in the construction of a 250,000 gallon retention pond to address flooding issues on Dogwood Road. Although this is only one part of the solution (we have been denied permission to build another pond that we had proposed) – we are still working on other measures to address the situation and I am confident that we will contain the flooding. I would like to point out that we would never have gotten this far in the resolution of these problems had it not been for the work of our Town Engineer, Scott Bryant.

Lake City Flooding

Con Ed has done a study of their right -of-way and stated that their property does not contribute to the Lake City flooding. I have written back and asked for copies of the surveys and elevations to see if there is anything that can be done to help alleviate the flooding from the back of Circle Drive. We have had the developers of the Stone Ridge subdivision change the discharge from their retention pond and we plan to install another pipe on Lake Drive (by the pond), at an appropriate elevation, to help the Guildersleeves Creek discharge more water at a point below Lake City – a possibility that Scott Bryant noticed during one of the rain storms.

Hillside Lake

Earlier this year we contracted with Great Eastern Environmental to develop some options for us to make Hillside Lake a viable water body again. I had provided them with the information that they had requested and they were to come back sometime in June. Unfortunately, due to staffing changes, they dropped the ball. I met with them Friday and registered my dissatisfaction with their fulfillment of their obligations. They understand and have promised us at least two plans in the next few weeks.


There really is so much more: trying to build a new Recreation and Senior Complex to address our needs; working with our Open Space Preservation Committee to keep our town a place where we want to live; working with the Fishkill Creek Watershed Committee to address many issues of development, flooding, and the environment; looking for new water sources to supplement sources that we currently use; trying to make sure that all of our boards operate efficiently and fairly; working on updating the Master Plan for the Town (probably setting up that committee before the year is out); always being concerned with revenue and expenses; and, most importantly, listening to and addressing the needs of our constituents – the people we work for.

In closing, I would like to recognize the many people who work for the Town. We have a lot of hard working, conscientious, people who really care about the people who live here and I think they do a tremendous job.

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