Andes unveils $2.25 million budget

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By Matthew J. Perry
The Town of Andes presented a preliminary budget for 2009 at a public hearing last week Tuesday.
A figure of $2,253,814 is projected for town’s general fund, highway department, and water, sewer and lighting districts. The fire district budget was not included in the totals.
The town’s tax revenue is expected to increase by approximately five percent. There is one noticeable increase in residents’ fees: 128 customers of Andes Water District #1 will pay $425 in fees per dwelling unit in 2009, a $50 increase over the ’08 budget.
The town’s general fund shows appropriations of $585,666, of which $436,766 is to be raised by taxes; the highway fund is penciled in at $997,092, $633,592 of which will be covered by tax. Of the special districts, Sewer District #1 shows the largest projected increase: $603,301, up nearly $70,000 from 2008. The increase is due mostly to a replacement of the district’s microfiltration unit. The large majority of the sewer district’s operations and maintenance is paid for by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

No public input
The public hearing was a brief affair at which no questions were asked. The town will vote on the final passage of the budget next month.
At the town board’s regular meeting, clerk Janis Jacques’ report included times and locations for voting on November 4. Andes’ two voting districts will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; District #1 voting machines will be placed at the old town hall at 580 Main Street, #2 voting will take place at the Rod and Gun Club on county Highway 1.
Privilege of the floor was granted to Michael Harrington of Lamont Engineers, who updated the board on the progress of three projects that are being funded by grants from Catskill Watershed Corporation. Portions of Gladstone Hollow Road and High Street, as well as the terminus of Coulter Road near the post office, are being overhauled by Lamont to deal more efficiently with storm water runoff. Both the High Street and Coulter Road projects are expected to be completed in 2008; Gladstone Hollow, which will be outfitted with a new culvert, likely will wait until next spring before it is completed.
Supervisor Marty Donnelly reminded the board that the three projects will not cost Andes taxpayers money. Their collective expense is estimated at close to $1 million. Harrington stated that the CWC grants cover the justified expense of the project, rather than provide an exact dollar amount.
Donnelly’s report stated that on October 8, the town’s wastewater treatment plant received a call from an unnamed gas company, asking if the plant could accept wastewater from natural gas wells. The plant’s engineer, Shane Boice, informed the company’s representative that the plant could not accept any waste water, but the board, after some discussion, determined that the exact rules and capacities of the treatment plant should be reviewed carefully. The primary questions concern the daily processing capacity of the plant and the type of effluent that it can process. Wastewater from gas wells can contain traces of a variety of chemicals and is extremely saline. However, should the plant be able to process such substances, a potential source of revenue could become available if drilling in the region proceeds.
The DEP owns the treatment plant, but after 20 years ownership will revert to the town.