Middletown Board weighs in on Fleischmanns Bridge

By Geoff Samuels
At last Tuesday’s Middletown Board meeting, Supervisor Marge Miller called attention to a resolution requiring that any bridge built to replace a flood damaged one must be constructed to new and higher standards.

“Regardless of the public pressure” she said, “I think the supervisors did this in 2008 so we wouldn’t be continuing to put money into bridges that were not going to be sustainable.” Referring to the proposed replacement of the Bridge Street bridge in Fleischmanns with a foot-traffic-only structure she added, “It is unfortunate for Fleischmanns, but we’re trying to work out some kind of solution.”

In a discussion of the town’s transfer station, board member Jake Rosa commented that he didn’t have a problem charging commercial haulers for dumping out-of-town garbage at the transfer station, but didn’t see why haulers with local garbage should pay when residents can dump it for free. “It’s the same garbage,” he said. Deputy Supervisor Mike Finberg took the opposing view saying, “It’s a lot different than your truck or my car coming in verses everybody’s all together.”

The fact that haulers don’t have to drive to Walton was brought up with Miller adding, “We’re looking at being able to have revenue from garbage because garbage is money, as I’m finding out. We want to keep it within reason. We don’t want to put anyone out of business, but we feel there’s a revenue potential here.” A continuation of the discussion was set for the next regular Town Hall meeting.

Budget numbers
Attention was then turned to the preliminary town budget with Miller giving an overview of various increases over the last 10 years, describing some of them as “huge.”

Miller went on to say, “while I still think that there are things that can and should be cut from this, it’s a pretty realistic budget based on departmental requests and on where we are….. The numbers that are in here now, I would say, are very realistic.” Noting that contractual negotiations with both the highway and health insurance departments were not complete, Miller felt the resolution of those issues would have a positive monetary impact.

The total budget for 2013 now stands at $3,354,619, with the amount of $2,630,853 to be raised by taxes, an increase of $135,013 or 5.4 percent from last year according to a budget handout.
In a discussion concerning New York States’ two percent property tax cap, Supervisor’s Assistant Beth Bush told the board how she was able to use the state comptroller’s website to calculate that the two percent cap would actually end up being 3.3 percent for Middletown when specific circumstances were taken into account.

Cutting numbers
With this in mind, Finberg came up with a figure of $51,646 that would still need to be cut in order to reach this goal, while Miller thought the figure would more likely be around $70,000. With the understanding that negotiations will still need to be resolved at the board meeting in November, the preliminary budget was adopted as is.

Miller then put forth two proposals for new town positions, the first being a part-time public relations officer to serve in the event of an emergency. This would be a person who could write press releases related to emergency situations and $500 was budgeted for this post, if needed.
The second new position, also for the sum of $500, would be a Community Rating System coordinator. This, Miller said, “would be a way of acknowledging that we are in the program and that we are committed to it.” Middletown Code Enforcement Officer Pat Davis is currently the acting coordinator.

Miller’s last proposal for the evening was to develop a contractual relationship with the MARK Project, citing that her review of existing MARK contracts with the villages of Fleischmanns and Roxbury had revealed a return on investment somewhere between 300 and 1,000 percent.

MARK support
“The unfortunate truth of the present moment” she said, “is that when you want funding for things, you have to get a grant, and grants need administration, follow-through, and someone to stay on top of the process.” Board member Brian Sweeney expressed his support for such a contract saying, “I do think it’s important to put money in for MARK because I think it does pay a dividend way beyond (the) $5,000 (contractual fee).”

A special meeting of the town board was set for Friday, Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m., while the next regular meeting is set for Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m., both at the Middletown Town Hall.