ELDRED, NY — Highland Town Board meetings function like clockwork. After 55 minutes, the board moved through its November 8 agenda including announcing that it will begin interviewing …
ELDRED, NY — Highland Town Board meetings function like clockwork. After 55 minutes, the board moved through its November 8 agenda including announcing that it will begin interviewing candidates who expressed interest in joining the governing body to fill the vacant board seat due to the resignation of Jim Guttekunst.
Three residents, three reporters, the deputy highway superintendent and legislative chair and District 1 representative Rob Doherty were in attendance.
The meeting’s highlight was the passage of the 2023 town budget, which is set at $2,267,610.27. This budget is a 2.5 percent increase over 2022, and has a taxpayer decrease of $4.95 per thousand of assessed property value, bringing taxes down to $4.84 per thousand. This tax decrease is due to higher-than-anticipated revenue from permits for short-term rentals, building fees, mortgage taxes and fire and safety inspections.
Additionally, the Eldred Preserve will begin paying 10 percent more toward their $8.5 million improvements as part of their PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) schedule through the Sullivan County IDA. This particular 15-year PILOT agreement held the assessment for town taxes at $1.2 million for five years, and will now increase 10 percent, for the next nine years, until the full amount of tax rateable on the improvements is reached.
Additionally, supervisor Jeff Haas said that interest earnings are adding to the increased revenue.
These increases cover additional costs in insurance, particularly health insurance for town employees and small increases in most departments.
As part of the budget, the board approved a $2,000 increase in the Highland ambulance budget, and a tentative $100,000 expenditure to contract police services. The board anticipates contracting out the constable department, which was funded in the 2022 budget at $104,000, and included personnel services and equipment. At press time, this contract has not been finalized, and the amount is subject to change.
In other business, the board heard that the emergency management committee, which consists of Kaitlin Haas and Chris Tambini, are in conversation with Camp Koininia, for the camp to become an emergency warming station. A water line break was discovered at the Barryville Justice Court, the highway department is assisting with the renovation of the Highland River Access, and that preparations for the Silver Feather Award project are progressing.
The board also engaged attorney of the town Michael Davidoff to represent the town in a homeowner’s lawsuit stemming from a resident’s desire to pay their taxes with a certificate that is not recognized by the town’s bank, Jeff Bank.
The board was kept up to speed on conversations with the town’s consultant, the Laburge Group, on what would be needed to move forward when new regulations on cannabis are released by New York State.
The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 13, with a workshop meeting on Tuesday, December 6. Both meetings will begin at 7 p.m. at the town hall in Eldred.
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