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Strange politics for the year in Greenville

Jan 05, 2011 7:06 am
The town of Greenville held its reorganization meeting Monday, January 3, with the most visible change being its two new councilmen, according to a piece in today's Daily Mail by reporter Doron Tyler Antrim that tries to outline the convoluted politics of the Greene County town. Political newcomers John Bensen and Greg Davis were sworn in just before the meeting and are scheduled to serve until the end of the year. Prior to last November’s election, former Councilwoman Diane Fallon announced she was leaving the board, citing medical reasons. She was appointed last January to fill the seat originally won by Supervisor Paul Macko, who left the board to run for his current position. That seat, which was filled by Bensen, will be up for re-election this November. Bensen, a registered Republican, defeated former board member Wayne Nelsen in the election. Nelsen, also a registered Republican, was tapped by the town Democratic Party to challenge Bensen. Former Councilman Louis Kraker, who served on the board since 1996, recently announced he was leaving, too. His successor, Greg Davis, was officially appointed by the board Monday. Davis, a registered Conservative who works as a farrier, has said Town Clerk Ronnie Campbell encouraged him to accept the position.

Bensen is the owner of Greenville Saw, a farm and yard equipment business.

Like Bensen, Davis will only serve until the end of this year. Neither has yet said they intend to run for their own full term in November.

During the reorganizational meeting, the new members were given two committee assignments. Bensen will join Councilman Ken Stern on the Highway Committee and also serve on the Solid Waste Committee with Councilman Richard Bear.

Davis will join Bear on the Park, Recreation and Public Relations Committee and serve with Macko on the newly formed Cablevision Committee.

That committee has been negotiating with Mid-Hudson Cable and advocacy group Concerned Citizens for Better Broadband in the Valley Towns over a new franchise agreement.

Bensen and Davis will be paid $5,387 for their service.

Each town board member will be required to attend at least two planning board meetings this year.

Change at the ZBA

There will also be a shakeup at the town Zoning Board of Appeals with the announcement that Chairman Tom Connolly will be vacating his seat, which carries a five-year term.

The ZBA will need to nominate a new chairman, who would need town board approval. A successor to Connolly’s five-year term must also be chosen. The ZBA includes members Joan Smith, Tom Briggs, Elena Ryan, Art Marini and alternates Tom Vance and Jim Hauck.

Bensen, the town’s new councilman, served as a ZBA alternate until his election. Hauck was chosen as his replacement.

New dog licensing law

Another change for 2011 is Greenville’s new dog licensing law, which will raise fees for owners.

Under the law, all dogs four months or older must be licensed. Owners will have the option to sign up for a one or two-year license renewal. The license fee for a spayed or neutered dog will be $10 — an increase of $1.50 from 2010. The fee for an unspayed or neutered dog will be $20 — also an increase of $1.50.

Owners over the age of 64 who must license a dog will be given discounts. Seniors will pay $7 for a spayed or neutered dog, while the fee for an unspayed or neutered dog will be $17.

Service and police dogs will be exempt from the fees.

The town will conduct an ongoing dog census. Any dog found unlicensed will come with an additional fee of $5. The enumerator will receive $2 for each unlicensed dog counted and $1 for each licensed dog counted, including mileage.

The town board will continue to hold its regular meetings on third Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer Hall. It’s next meeting is set for Jan. 13.

2011 budget

The $2.67 million budget is $123,000 less than last year’s spending plan. Despite the cut in spending, the 2011 budget will raise property taxes to $6.27 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value — an 85 cent increase from 2010.

Additional fees for some building permits and dog licenses are projected to bring in $9,000 in new revenue this year, although total general fund revenue is expected to be down $20,000 from 2010, to $154,000.

Total general fund appropriations are projected significantly lower for 2011, to $876,000 from more than $929,000 last year.

The nine-day summer youth program — a more than $16,000 expense last year — will receive no town funding in 2011. The fate of the program, however, is yet to be determined. It may fold as a result of the loss of funding or could choose to levy a fee for the service.

The senior trip program will also suffer cuts in this year’s budget. The town usually pays the transportation costs for the several senior trips during the year, but has chosen to forego the $2,500 expense in 2011. Funding for the seniors’ Christmas party will remain.

Paying for employee benefits this year, excluding those for highway department workers, will also be lower than last year — down from almost $209,000 to $199,000. Benefits for highway department employees will also cost less this year, down from $111,000 to over $95,000.

Total appropriations for the highway department are expected to be $908,000 in 2011 — more than $43,000 less than 2010.

A huge savings is also expected as a result of a lower budget for Greenville Fire District No. 1. Appropriations for the Freehold Fire District, however, will increase $10,000 in 2011.

Salaries for town employees will remain at 2010 levels.