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Friday headlines

Apr 08, 2011 6:40 am
Grocery store, zoning collide
Doron Tyler Antrim writes in the Daily Mail that plans for a new Hannafords in Cairo are running up against the town's first comprehensive plan. "Although some parts of the company’s plan are likely to be tweaked as it begins the planning board approval process, Hannaford representatives say one critical aspect is non-negotiable," Antrim writes. "They say the company is unwilling to build its grocery store closer to the road and have the parking lot in the rear of the property, which is a requirement in the zoning law for new commercial development on Main Street." Hannaford could seek a waiver of any zoning rules before the Zoning Board of Appeals, a five-member body that will not be appointed by the town until after the law’s passage.

Teachers’ union, district at impasse
Andrew Amelinckx writes that the Hudson City School District's teacher’s union and its board of education have come to an impasse on contract negotiations.The teachers union and board have met on three occasions over the past three months trying to negotiate a new deal before a current contract expires July 1. According to Jack Howe, the district’s superintendent, if the contract expires it could result in “an additional $900,000 per year” or a 4.7 percent per year increase in the district’s budget for teacher salaries and benefits. According to the teachers' union, the district asked the union to agree to “no salary increase and no movement on the salary schedule for the 2011-12 school year.” The HTA countered by asking how many faculty positions would be saved and was told it would be five of 22 jobs set to be cut. The union rejected the proposal and proposed its own plan, which the board and Howe have denigrated in public. The HTA’s proposal involved the creation of a loan of sorts, with each teacher deferring one day of pay from one paycheck a month for 10 months. The district would hold the salary and pay it out at a later date. The union estimated that this would be around $696,000, which the district could then use to pay a step increment increase, plus a 1 percent raise to all teachers. The board is expected to vote on their budget on Monday, April 11, and include the elimination of 20 teaching positions. Everyone's expecting a contentious meeting.

Catskill appeals judge's ruling in pagan case
Julia Reischel writes in The Watershed Post that Judge George Pulver of Greene County has set a date for a bench trial in a tax status case that has slipped into discrimination charges. The Maetreum of Cybele, a pagan group from Palenville, are claiming that the Town of Catskill has discriminated against them by refusing to grant them a religious property tax exemption. According the the Greene County Clerk's Office, a notice of appeal was filed on March 28 in the tax case against the Assessor of the Town of Catskill. The town appears to be asking for a higher court to review a tough-talking February ruling from Greene County Supreme Court Judge Pulver, which the judge denied Catskill's request to dismiss the case. Pulver will hear evidence in the case and rule on it himself on July 20.

County leaders accuse state of adopting “smoke and mirrors” budget
Mid Hudson News Network reports that top county officials from across the Hudson Valley are calling the newly adopted state budget “smoke and mirrors.” In a discussion among regional business executives on April 7 at the annual Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress Presidents’ Day Breakfast in Poughkeepsie, the Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties, Stephen Acquario, complained that the state was passing off its bills to counties and towns. "When the state mandates that the counties must pick up the tab on various services, it destroys their autonomy and siphons significant dollar amounts out of the communities that need that money the most," he said.

Supes mileage cost $17K in 2010
Francesca Olsen of the Register-Star and WGXC's @ Issue news show reports that Columbia County paid out $17,506.55 to the Board of Supervisors for mileage reimbursement in 2010. Sixteen supervisors received mileage reimbursement, mostly for traveling to Hudson for county committee meetings. They were reimbursed at 50 cents per mile, at an average of $1,094 each. "The county’s current vehicle use policy does not lay out specific mileage-logging requirements for supervisors and the supervisors queried for this story were not aware of a BOS-specific policy," Olsen writes. "A new policy... is expected to be adopted in the next few months." She adds that Board of Supervisors Chairman Roy Brown, R-Germantown, did not log mileage because he has his own county-issued vehicle.

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