Town Board Discusses Budget

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

The proposed New Paltz Town budget for 2014 is currently under review by the town board.

According to New Paltz Town Supervisor Susan Zimet, the $10 million budget would cut spending by about 3.5 percent and lower the property tax levy by about 4 percent, down from 7.6 percent after the town’s property value decreased by 3.6 percent.

Within the proposed budget, former Village Planner Curt Lavalla will be appointed to a new consultant position. That position will be shared and co-funded by the Village of New Paltz to help create a comprehensive joint master plan in the community.

The comprehensive plan will establish guidelines between the town and the village governments to avoid zoning conflicts and ensure both parties consider each others’ interests before enacting infrastructure development or changes, Zimet said.

“We’re one community, yet we have two [governments] creating laws,” Zimet said. “Without planning together, there is no seamless transfer [between jurisdictions] for our residents.”

Zimet said the comprehensive plan was trying to “keep within the spirit of New Paltz minus governmental conflict.”

The budget will also continue to pay for the recently hired, grant writer position. Zimet said  the duties of the position is to propose local infrastructure projects to state and federal agencies in order to receive funding if they qualify.

Zimet said that seven letters of intent for the grant money have been sent to state and federal governments, all of which have been approved for the second phase of grant qualification in an environment where 90 percent of community grant proposals are turned down.

The grant proposals include four solar powered generators to supply electricity to town hall, the community center, the Highway Department and Sewer 6 treatment plant in case of a power outage, a near-complete renovation of the Sewer 6 treatment plant; graveling of Cragswood Road off of Springtown Road to prevent vehicle entrapment during floods; and a hazard mitigation plan which would provide preventative maintenance services against natural disasters and ensure relief money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) if a disaster were to happen.

As town supervisor, maintaining a good relationship with state and federal government officials and being in contact with their offices was the best way to increase the likelihood of receiving grant money for proposed projects, Zimet said.

She hopes to develop New Paltz as a “sustainable model and community,” citing the importance of the anti-fracking movement and the need to find alternative sources of energy, Zimet said.

“I’m working with environmental leaders throughout the state that are looking to make New Paltz a pilot community of renewable energy and job creation in that field,” she said. “We even have a landowner in New Paltz who is very far into the planning and financing phase of creating a solar energy farm that would generate enough power for the town and the college.”