TOWN BOARD MINUTES
 FEBRUARY 20, 2003

A regularly scheduled meeting of the Town of Esopus Town Board was held on Thursday, February 20, 2003 at 7:30 PM at the Town Hall on Broadway in Port Ewen, New York with the following persons in attendance:

Supervisor Ray Rice
Councilman Marshall Courtney
Councilman Gloria VanVliet
Councilman Wayne Freer
Absent: Councilman Peter Beisel

Recording Secretary: Diane L. McCord, Town Clerk, RMC
Daily Freeman Reporter Tree McElhinney

Pledge to the Flag

Announcements:

The Supervisor reminded the residents that there is no parking on roads in the Town of Esopus between 10 PM and 6 AM.
Dogs are available for adoption at the Town of Esopus Kennel with the Town paying the licensing fees and for vaccinations.

Public Comments:  None at this time.
 
Town Board Resolutions:

6.  DISCUSSION OF LIABILITY INSURANCE WITH AGENT BOB RYAN

Bob Ryan explained in the insurance world prices have been going up due to the September 11 crises and the downward flux of the stock market.  The Town carrier, St. Paul’s, covers 4,500 municipalities in the USA.  When Ryan Insurance first took over the town account the cost was $120,000 for general liability and now the cost is $80,000 and the town is still getting a good product.

Liability is paid when there is negligence on the part of the town.  The insurance company should make that determination regarding negligence and if someone sues, the town the insurance company will pay the difference between the deductible and the amount of the suit.  Ryan Insurance has offered to pay the claim by the Maurer’s, however, it may not be a precedent the Town Board wants to set.

Councilman Courtney mentioned our deductible is now $10,000,  how should we handle a claim when it is clearly below the level of our deductible?  Bob Ryan stated the carrier should handle it.  It is not good to have small claims on the record.  The carrier is the best person to know if there is negligence involved.  If negligence is involved the carrier will pay.  Councilman Courtney asked if in Ryan’s experience St. Paul is the best carrier for the town and Bob Ryan answered in the affirmative.  Supervisor Rice asked if Ryan would be willing to pick up the Service Master cost in connection with the Maurer case and Bob Ryan agreed.  Supervisor Rice will write a letter to Mr. Maurer.  Councilman Freer asked if Bob Ryan would be willing to call Jay Maurer’s insurance company and explain what happened...that this was not a “flood” and he answered yes.  Councilman VanVliet stated it should also be noted that there was no negligence on the part of the Town.

Councilman Courtney thanked Bob Ryan for the coverage over the years and for the insurance companies very good relationship with the town and he recognizes the offer to address the Maurer claim is not something Bob Ryan has to do.

1.  RESOLUTION TO APPOINT VINCE FISHER, MIKE MARONEY, BERNIE GRAY,        AND SONDRA LENT TO THE ESOPUS RECREATION BOARD.

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Town Board of the Town of Esopus, in the County of Ulster, as follows:

WHEREAS, a vacancies exist on the Recreation Commission and recommendations for appointment have been received from the Recreation Commission,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Board appoints the following individuals to the Town of Esopus Recreation Commission.

Vince Fisher   term ending  Dec. 31, 2005
Mike Maroney term ending  Dec. 31, 2005
Bernie Gray  term ending  Dec. 31, 2004
Sondra Lent  term ending  Dec. 31, 2005

Resolution offered by Councilman Wayne Freer
Resolution seconded by Councilman Marshall Courtney

Supervisor Ray Rice   Aye
Councilman Marshall Courtney Aye
Councilman Gloria VanVliet  Aye
Councilman Wayne Freer  Aye
Absent: Councilman Peter Beisel

Resolution duly adopted.

2.  RESOLUTION TO APPOINT MEMBERS TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY       BOARD

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Town Board of the Town of Esopus, in the County of Ulster, as follows:

WHEREAS,  vacancies exists on the Environmental Advisory Board recommendations for appointments have been received from the Environmental Board,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Board appoints the following individuals to the Town of Esopus Environmental Board,

Cynthia McVay term ending  Dec. 31, 2003
Louise Ferrente term ending  Dec. 31, 2003
Debbie Lamb term ending  Dec. 31, 2003

Resolution offered by Supervisor Ray Rice
Resolution seconded by Councilman Marshall Courtney

Supervisor Ray Rice    Aye
Councilman Marshall Courtney  Aye
Councilman Gloria VanVliet  Aye
Councilman Wayne Freer   Aye
Absent: Councilman Peter Beisel

Resolution duly adopted.

3.  RESOLUTION TO APPOINT MARIAN SCHOETTEL AS REPRESENTATIVE TO       THE KINGSTON CABLE COMMISSION

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Town Board of the Town of Esopus, in the county of Ulster, as follows:

WHEREAS, the Town of Esopus supplies a representative to the Kingston Cable Commission and a vacancy exists due to the resignation of Chris Farrell,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Board appoints Marian Schoettel as representative to the Kingston Cable Commission for the Town of Esopus.

Resolution offered by Supervisor Ray Rice
Resolution seconded by Councilman Marshall Courtney
Supervisor Ray Rice    Aye
Councilman Marshall Courtney  Aye
Councilman Gloria VanVliet   Aye
Councilman Wayne Freer   Aye
Absent: Councilman Peter Beisel

Resolution adopted.

4.  RESOLUTION TO AUTHORIZE ATTENDANCE OF TOWN CLERKS AT TOWN       CLERKS ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Town Board of the Town of Esopus, in the County of Ulster, as follows:

WHEREAS, the Town Clerk’s Association will hold their annual conference in Buffalo, New York, April 27-30, 2003,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Board authorizes the attendance of Town Clerk Diane McCord and Deputy Clerk Nancy Henry, the expenses to be paid from the Town Clerk’s budget.

Resolution offered by Supervisor Ray Rice
Resolution seconded by Councilman Marshall Courtney

Supervisor Ray Rice    Aye
Councilman Marshall Courtney  Aye
Councilman Gloria VanVliet  Aye
Councilman Wayne Freer   Aye
Absent: Councilman Peter Beisel

Resolution duly adopted.

5.  DISCUSSION OF RIVERVIEW CERTIORARI TAX SUIT - postponed until the end of the meeting

6.  INSURANCE LIABILITY DISCUSSED AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS MEETING   PAGE 1

7.  RESOLUTION TO AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF VOUCHERS RECEIVED SINCE THE JANUARY 15TH TOWN BOARD MEETING

CAPITAL FUNDS  1 -     5  $10,043.89
GENERAL FUND  42- 116    34,777.17
HIGHWAY FUNDS  17-   57    31,840.30
STREET LIGHTING           2      3,597.26
PORT EWEN SEWER 16-   26      5,217.50
PORT EWEN WATER 30-   62    18,592.14

TOTAL....................$104,068.26

RESOLUTION OFFERED BY COUNCILMAN GLORIA VANVLIET
RESOLUTION SECONDED BY COUNCILMAN MARSHALL COURTNEY

Supervisor Ray Rice    Aye
Councilman Marshall Courtney  Aye
Councilman Gloria VanVliet  Aye
Councilman Wayne Freer   Aye
Absent: Councilman Peter Beisel

Resolution duly adopted.

8.  MOTION TO APPROVE MINUTES

A MOTION WAS MADE BY COUNCILMAN MARSHALL COURTNEY AND SECONDED BY SUPERVISOR RAY RICE TO APPROVE THE MINUTES SINCE THE JANUARY MEETING.  ALL TOWN BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR.  MOTION CARRIED.

9.  EXECUTIVE SESSION - LITIGATION - RIVERVIEW

A MOTION TO ENTER INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION TO DISCUSS LITIGATION WITH RIVERVIEW WAS MADE BY COUNCILMAN MARSHALL COURTNEY AT 8:00 PM. AND SECONDED BY SUPERVISOR RAY RICE.  ALL TOWN BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR.  MOTION CARRIED.

A MOTION TO ADJOURN FROM EXECUTIVE SESSION AT 8:25 PM WAS MADE BY SUPERVISOR RAY RICE AND SECONDED BY COUNCILMAN MARSHALL COURTNEY.  ALL TOWN BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR.  MOTION CARRIED.

5.  Continued........................RESOLUTION TO AUTHORIZE THE SETTLEMENT OF THE RIVERVIEW TAX CERTIORARI LAWSUIT

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Town Board of the Town of Esopus, in the County of Ulster, as follows:

WHEREAS, the Riverview Owners Association has brought a tax certiorari proceeding against the Town,

WHEREAS, the lawyers for both parties have suggested a compromise wherein the condominium exemptions will be increased for each condominium in the project,

WHEREAS, the Town of Esopus Assessor and the Town Attorney believe that this settlement is in the best interests of the Town,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Board authorizes the Supervisor and Kellar and Kellar to accept the negotiated settlement and to execute the appropriate documents memorializing the same.

RESOLUTION OFFERED BY SUPERVISOR RAY RICE
RESOLUTION SECONDED BY COUNCILMAN GLORIA VANVLIET

Supervisor Ray Rice    Aye
Councilman Marshall Courtney  Aye
Councilman Gloria VanVliet  Aye
Councilman Wayne Freer   Aye
Absent: Councilman Peter Beisel

Resolution duly adopted.

Councilman Courtney explained the settlement.  Riverview Condos brought a tax certiorari proceeding against the Town.  This is a special lawsuit challenging the manor in which property taxes were assessed.  Unlike most houses, your taxes are based on the assessed valuation of your house....with condos they are treated as if they are apartments so you can have an expensive condo and the taxes are less.  This applies only to the Town and County taxes not school taxes.  The questions was how much of an exemption is Riverview entitled to by reason of the fact that we are pretending they are an apartment for tax purposes.  According to the Assessor, we are going to exempt from the assessed amount $81,200 for the normal units and$152,000 for the end units, since the end units are worth significantly more.  There will be a substantial tax break for the Riverview Condos.  It was Councilman Courtney’s opinion that what has been worked out with the lawyers, the appraisers and the assessor is in the best interest of all concerned.

10. REVALUATION

Assessor Dan Terpening explained the town is under a six year plan with New York State Real  Property Tax Service to do reassessments.  Those portions of the town where the prices of homes have increased dramatically is the area that will be chosen for review (trend).  Trending is done for a few years and then a full assessment is done.  The trending is meant to reduce the sticker shock on increases in property values.
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According to the Assessor, the town either does a reassessment themselves and controls our own destiny by doing it in house, or we leave it to the state to do our reassessment by the equalization rate.  Our equalization dropped year after year and that is why a reassessment was done in 1996.  The town was not happy with the way the equalization rate was dropping and an unfair amount of the county and school taxes were being paid.  Therefore, it behooves the town to keep working with the state.  If we do not do a reassessment the town would lose $20,000 reimbursement for this year and next year from the state.  An assessment in house can be done for very little...just the cost of .stationary and a little labor.

Councilman Freer asked why is the state giving us $20,000?  Dan Terpening answered it is an
incentive and explained some towns may have a large overhead and  their costs are higher.  Our town is one of the cheapest towns per parcel to do things, however, if we skipped a year we could lose that $20,000.  Supervisor Rice stated there was always the perception the City of Kingston was getting away with something because they had not done a revaluation but it appears they are being punished with their equalization rate.  Councilman Freer continued.....are we being hurt by the New Paltz and Highland School districts with their equalization rate?  Dan Terpening did not have those equalization figures with him tonight.

Councilman Gloria VanVliet asked how many towns are signed up with the state?  Dan Terpening did not know.  Councilman VanVliet believes everyone should be treated equally.  Dan Terpening said equity is the most important thing.  With assessing properties trending is one aspect, however, there are other considerations such as “co-efficient dispersion” which is what the majority of the properties are assessed at compared to the equalization rate.

Councilman Courtney asked about the “trending” and it was his understanding that you identify certain portions of the town where there is a greater rate of change in property values and that segment gets reviewed on a annual basis.  If you are on the river, which has been experiencing a fairly dramatic increase in value, people who live on the river can expect to have their assessments change, if not on an annual basis, on a basis far more frequent.  Dan Terpening said in fact the whole town has been going up.  If you have a property that is worth $500,000 and it goes up twenty percent that is a $100,000 increase.  If you have a $100,000 house and it goes up twenty percent that is $20,000.  It is the same percentage but not the same dollar amount.

New York State would like a full reassessment every three years.  Dan Terpening has scheduled 2004 for a reassessment.  This summer he will be working on the 2004 figures.  Supervisor Rice stated property taxes are not a fair way to raise taxes but it is what we have and we must make it as fair as possible.
 
Councilman Courtney asked what input Dan Terpening needed from the Town Board?  Do we have a say in whether or not there is a reval next year?  According to the assessor if you reapply for a six year plan after dropping out, your plan will be scrutinized much more and the state may try to find reasons not to approve it.  Supervisor Rice stated Dan Terpening is looking for some sort of support from the Board to approve this process and Supervisor Rice was in favor of continuing to insure there is equity.

Councilman Courtney said the whole assessment process is extremely complicated and few people understand.  The objective is fairness to everyone and it is a difficult thing.  Taxes in this state and town are extremely high and they have a major impact on whether people are able to live in this town.  With the increases in the past few years the character of the town has changed and that is an unfortunate trend.  It is terrible when people who have been here for generations and are now forced to be displaced....it is tied directly to our tax system.  This displacement is driving people out of town and out of state.  It is a horrible way to raise money and we have no say in the system except to make our small part in the system as fair as we can.

Dan Terpening said there have been only five or six foreclosures in the past year and they owed less than $75,000 yet people who are building homes are paying $250,000 as a average. (Councilman Courtney said he understood there is a house being built in this town where the fireplace is costing $250,000.)  Councilman Freer commented people who have been here are having trouble keeping up.  People come back to us as their first line of defense.  Dan Terpening said they should be talking to their legislators.  Our town budget has been flat for eight years.  66 % of your taxes go to the schools.  Councilman VanVliet observed the Town of Esopus faired well because of our assessment.  The fairest way would be to continue.

Assessor Terpening would like the support of the Town Board to continue with the assessment program.  The Board was of the opinion that they should wait until there was a full Town Board present to vote on this issue, however, since they did vote to support the assessment program two years ago, if nothing more were done, the town would continue with the program.

PUBLIC COMMENT: None

REPORTS OF BOARDS AND COMMITTEES:

The following reports of Boards and Committees has been received and are on file in the Town Clerk’s Office:

Town Clerk’s Monthly Report dated January 2003.
Town Clerk’s Yearly Report dated 2002.
Town of Esopus Rt. 9W Advisory Committee dated November 13, 2002
Town of Esopus Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes dated January 21, 2003.
Town of Esopus Highway Supt. Repot dated January 2003
Town of Esopus Planning Board Notice of Public Hearing datedFeb. 13, 2003
Planning Board Agenda Feb. 27, 2003
Zoning Board of Appeals Agenda dated Feb. 18, 2003
Planning Board Minutes dated January 23, 2003
Port Ewen Water/Sewer District Report for January 2003

A MOTION TO ADJOURN WAS MADE BY SUPERVISOR RAY RICE AT 9 PM AND SECONDED BY COUNCILMAN MARSHALL COURTNEY.  ALL TOWN BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR.  MOTION CARRIED.

Respectfully submitted,
Diane L. McCord
Town Clerk, RMC