April 17, 2004

County and environmental issues

The April 8 Town Board meeting also included a number of conversations about activity at the county level, making town tax policy match county policy, and about environmental planning in conjunction with the county and the state.

As noted in legal notices, the town had hearings on property tax exemptions for senior citizens and people whose incomes are limited by disability. County Legislator Mike Lane spoke in favor of the exemptions, noting both that it would put residents on an equal footing with regard to town and county taxes and that "it's the right thing to do for senior citizens." The board passed both exemptions, which operate on a sliding scale based on income up to $32,400.

Lane opened the county briefing by noting that the state budget was late once again, but the county was working hard to keep up with the latest news from Albany on likely costs. Lane reported that there hadn't been surprises so far, but there "could be things we don't anticipate in the fine print."

Mike Lane discusses the state and county budgets
Mike Lane discusses the state and county budgets

Lane noted that the county had decided to participate in the Virgil Creek aquifer study, which would reduce the costs of that project to the town. Lane also discussed the tourism grants made from the room tax, and encouraged Dryden organizations to apply for them, especially the celebration grants of $500 to $1500, which will have another round in the fall.

County Legislator Martha Robertson began by discussing the budget, noting that a preliminary rollover budget, keeping services the same next year as they are this year, would result in a 10-12% tax levy increase - "still real serious, but not quite as bleak as last year." She said that legislator Peter Penniman had heard that costs to the counties would not increase this year, and pointed out an Assembly proposed to put a cap on county shares of Medicaid.

Martha Robertson presents upcoming meetings on the draft County Comprehensive Plan
Martha Robertson presents upcoming meetings on the draft County Comprehensive Plan

Robertson also discussed the draft County Comprehensive Plan, in particular that there would be an open house on the subject April 29 at the Dryden Town Hall from 3-7pm, followed by a presentation, and that there would be presentations at the Dryden and Freeville village halls on May 13th and 20th respectively.

Robertson brought up a study that the Learning Web, the Tompkins County Youth Services Department, and the Cornell University Family Life Development Center had done with and on "independent youths", ages 15 to 24 and living on their own, often homeless. (The Ithaca Journal has an article on the study.) Robertson pointed out that 16 independent youths had created and carried out the study, which spoke to 165 people. She presented a copy of the survey results to the Town Board.

Environmental Planner Debbie Gross asked the board to hold a public hearing at their next meeting on the annual stormwater management report, which has to be submitted to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the board scheduled one.

Gross built on Mike Lane's earlier mention of county participation in the aquifer study, pointing out that the county had suggested an additional test well be drilled "to improve confidence in the survey." While there were still questions about the timing of the disbursements, the largest piece of which is likely to arrive in 2005, the overall commitment was fixed. Councilman Steve Stelick thanked former Supervisor Mark Varvayanis and Town Councilmen Deb Grantham and Charlie Hatfield for their

"vision to put the money up on this with no guarantee that the county was ever going to come through with this money. It's nice that the county is backing it, but the former town board had the vision to want to go through with this, regardless if there was funding from the county."

Gross also asked the about an agreement related to the Six Mile Creek watershed monitoring project. The board had authorized negotiations at the previous meeting, but there wasn't yet a contract. The project needs $2350, and Gross provided a rough outline of the contract details. Councilman Hattery asked for more details on the Community Science Institute, and there was a general request that the results be presented to the board. The supervisor is already authorized to move forward, so no further action was taken by the board.

The Town Board also completed a short form State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) for the annexation of a parcel to the Village of Dryden that they had approved last month.

Posted by simon at April 17, 2004 4:05 PM in ,
Note on photos