2015-04-22 / News

Margaretville ends planning agreement with Middletown to save money

By Joan Lawrence-Bauer
Citing increasing costs to Margaretville taxpayers, the village board agreed last month to terminate its Town of Middletown contract for building and zoning services, leaving the Town of Middletown with a shortfall in the town budget.
Mayor Diana Cope told the News this week that the village will seek an alternative method of meeting planning department needs that could involve hiring its own inspector at an hourly rate or negotiating a fee with the Delaware County Planning Department.
“Our responsibility to village taxpayers is to keep the budget under the two-percent cap and to be certain we are getting what we pay for with every contract we sign,” said Cope. “In this case, she added, the numbers just didn’t add up.”
Cope said that while the Town of Middletown charged the village $8,000 for its 2014 contract, they wanted $10,000 for the 2015 agreement. Further, according to Cope, the town gets to keep all of the fees collected for permits and services rendered. According to written annual reports provided by the Town of Middletown to the village, there were 39 permits issued in 2012, and 16 each in 2013 and 2014. Fees collected for building and zoning in 2013 were $2,545 and in 2014, $3,117. “We took a very, very hard look at this,” said Cope “and we felt we should be spending less, not more.”

By the numbers
In addition to issuing 16 new building permits last year, the village saw seven permit renewals, five records searches, seven certificate of occupancies, two demolitions, five fire inspections of new systems and one development permit. In zoning, seven sign permits were issued and four violations were issued. Additionally, 28 fire inspections were done in the village.
Cope said she and the village board are exploring all options available for meeting building, zoning and planning needs in the village at a rate taxpayers can afford. “We have always worked well with the Delaware County Planning Department,” said Cope. “There are several options available to us.”
In other village news, work on Bull Run Stream restoration, retaining walls, repairs and bridge replacement inched forward with the acceptance of M J Engineering and Land Surveying to complete the work. After agreeing with local officials that just doing the bridge by itself would not be adequate, New York State officials prepared a request for qualifications on an expanded project.
Cope said a committee of local residents who are not elected officials was asked to review the eight different companies who vied for the contract. Committee members Lauren Davis, Craig Ramsey, Diane Galusha, and Henry Friedman developed scoring criteria and then reviewed the submissions, ranking M J Engineering at the top.

Moving forward
The village board accepted the recommendation and now state appointed consultants will work with the firm to develop the fiscal parameters of the contract and then award the bid. “We’re looking at the entire Bull Run,” said Cope, “not just Main Street.”
Cope said the funding will come from the New York Rising fund, up to $6 million of which could be spent in Margaretville in the next few years.
Despite spring warming trends, some village residents are still without water due to main and lateral freeze ups during the exceptionally cold winter. Affected residents are being served temporarily by fire hose set ups coming out of hydrants. In at least one case, part of a main will likely be replaced to avoid a repeat of the freezing conditions in future years. “We’re all incredibly frustrated,” said Cope. “Not a day goes by without us looking at the water map and talking about this situation. But we’re all working together and everyone is being very patient.”

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