FROM AIRMONT SCOOP
After much deliberation, the mayor and trustees of Airmont voted this budget season to increase residents’ taxes by 4.05 percent, significantly higher than Mayor Boesch’s original proposed amount of 0.6 percent. The single dissenting vote was cast by Trustee Dennis Cohen, who felt that there were other ways they could find the additional funds needed in the budget, by having the village become more efficient, while still providing the same level of services to the residents.
The budget for the village attorney was doubled from $5,000 to $10,000 in anticipation of increased fees for outside counsel. It is unclear if this is due to past litigation or if the board anticipates that the village is going to be sued yet again.
The board decided to add an additional $50,000 for street improvement and will keep the previous level of $100,000 for drainage expense. Trustee Bracco stated that it may still be possible to reduce the amount being allocated for drainage after more deliberations with the village engineer. He was not pleased about about raising salaries and felt that the residents of Airmont should know that most of the tax increase is specifically based on the maintenance of village roads and paying for additional code enforcement.
Of special interest to the taxpayers of Airmont was the approval of a proposal from Brooker Engineering and grant writer Sylvia Welch to pay over $20,000 for their professional services to prepare the required documents necessary to submit a grant application for the hazardous mitigation grant program. The board was polled with the following results: Trustees Bracco, Gigante, and Boesch voted for the expenditure, and Trustees Cohen and Valenti voted against it. The resolution carried 3 – 2.
Trustee Cohen noted that he was concerned about spending $22,000 with the small likelihood of the grant being approved. The Mayor responded online that, “The application to FEMA is not an act of ‘gambling with our tax dollars.’ It is a legitimate effort to obtain federal funds which have been offered to local municipalities which have suffered damage by Hurricane Sandy. Of course, the federal government requires information which only our engineering firm can supply. However, the information is outside of its contract, and we are being charged for the service. Even if we do not obtain all the money we are applying for, the information provided by the engineer will benefit the village in years to come.”
The only contractor to submit a bid for snow removal in Airmont, CSB Contractor Inc. was hired at the bid price of $325,000 for 2014, $334,000 for 2015, $344,702 for 2016 and $229,861.33 for the first four months of 2017. Belleville Landscaping’s bid for the road maintenance contract for the Village of Airmont was accepted for the years 2014 – April 30, 2017. Their bid was $109,999 per year for the 40 month contract, for a total of $366,663.33. Their bid for the first year was significantly higher than that of the Town of Ramapo, but the town refused to submit a bid for more than one year at a time.
Much time was spent on discussion of the issue of old cardboard boxes, which need to be recycled, not left loosely at the curb for pick up. Mayor Boesch noted that leaving boxes at the curb on windy days can be a potential safety hazard, as well as being unsightly. Village Attorney, Anthony Benedict, reported that the official rules state that the boxes have to be folded or tied before being placed in the commingled containers.
Currently the trash collectors are instructed by the Mayor to leave the loose boxes at the curb (where they can then blow into the street), and residents are subject to violations and fines. Whatever the final regulations will be, AirmontScoop.com encourages the village to make sure that every single resident is notified of their obligation in this regard and that the boxes not continue to be left at the curb by the trash collectors, which defeats the entire purpose of this discussion.
Airmont Trustee Dennis Cohen had the last word, “It is true that the mayor’s first budget submission contained a 1/2 percent tax increase. However, the problem is that at the end of the day the mayor supported and voted for a 4+ percent increase. Seems that tax increases are small when there is an election but inflate after the election is over. So next year look for a small or no increase but watch out after that.”