Margaretville facing 25% tax increase
By Geoff Samuels
At the Margaretville Village Board meeting last Thursday, Beth Bush, village treasurer, told the board that a large loss in revenue due to the recent re-valuation of flooded properties, as well as lower valuations for the sewer plant, would result in a steep hike in property taxes for village residents this year.
Even though this year’s budget came in at $30,000 less than last year’s, “We’re looking at a huge change…25 percent,” she told the board, as they listened in silence.
Board member Fred Miller replied that for every $3,000 cut out of the budget, taxes would come down about one percent, but Bush replied, “We can nickel and dime the budget to death…it’s not going to make a lot of difference.” Miller agreed.
A slow reimbursement by FEMA for projects that are already in the works, plus a big drop in this year’s “unexpended balance” was also to blame for the shortfall.
Mayor Bill Stanton, commenting on the loss of property in the village since 2001, said that the village would have to enact a two percent tax-cap override, just like many other localities have done already. Are taxes going to go up? “You betcha,” he said. “There isn’t anything you can do about it.”
A public hearing was set at the village offices for March 7 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the tax limit override.
At the same meeting, Rudd and Burr Hubbell said that the burned out building at 688 Main Street in Margaretville, that they had just purchased a little more than a month ago, would undergo some cosmetic changes by this summer, but that it wasn’t likely to be completely rebuilt anytime soon.
The structure, previously owned by Eugene Gundelach, was beset by the flood of Hurricane Irene, and then soon after by a fire. It has remained untouched since then. Mayor Stanton asked what the prospects were for the building since he had received complaints that the building was a hazard in its current state.
Rudd Hubbell said there were implications with simply knocking the building down, since New York City would be what he termed, “difficult at best.”
“If we want to build something that fills out the whole lot,” he said. “We can’t put ourselves in the position where…knocking the building down…they’re going to come back and say that that isn’t what was there so you can’t rebuild.”
Hubbell said that they had met with the DEP and talked over some ideas about how to deal with a building in the flood plain, and what they might possibly do to make the structure bigger. But right now, “we’re just figuring out what we could actually afford to build there,” he said, “and we haven’t gone much further than that.”
Hubbell explained that they didn’t know if they were actually going to get the building until the middle of December last year, and that they didn’t want to put workmen at risk on scaffolding until the weather improved. As soon as the weather gets better, he said, either the building will come down or we’ll make the façade look good enough until we get a permit in place to rebuild something better. “We want to make a real impression if we do (rebuild), something that would change the character of Margaretville for the better.”
Burr Hubbell added that if it weren’t for the city, it would be cheaper to knock the whole building down and start from scratch. “But if you don’t maintain that footprint,” he said, “the city comes back and gives you trouble.”
Board member John Van Benschoten suggested that they draw up some kind of conceptual idea of what they might want to see there in the future so that the village could get behind and support the project, and that having some sort of draft on paper could potentially open the doors for funding. The Hubbells both agreed.