AnnouncementsHappy Birthday WGXC! Lucky 13!
AnnouncementsHappy Birthday WGXC! Lucky 13!
Thursday headlines PM
Melanie Lekocevic reports in the Greene County News about the Coxsackie-Athens Central School District Board of Education unanimous passage of a tentative 2011-2012 budget of $25,458,597, which if approved by the voters in May would levy a 2.92% tax increase on homeowners. The vote was unanimous. Most of the increase in the tax levy is due to losses in state aid along with increases in expenses – most notably jumps in the cost of employee salaries and benefits, which account for 95% of the budget increase. Amongst jobs on the chopping block to keep taxes low were a .22 art teacher, four teaching assistants, two teacher’s aides, one clerk/typist, two AIS teachers, two special education/consultant teachers, .4 English teacher, 1.4 math teacher, .5 social studies teacher, one elementary grade 6 teacher, a .5 physical education teacher, one administrator, .4 foreign language teacher and .5 social worker. Originally, one full-time social worker had been cut, but was restored to a part-time position. Other reductions remain as they did in previous discussions about the budget, including some programs, after-school transportation and other budget items.
Public divided over municipal mergers
Doron Tyler Antrim writes in the Daily Mail that consolidating government services is on the minds of local lawmakers across New York, even though a new poll released this week shows the public largely split over the issue. "The Marist College poll found 54 percent of state residents outside New York City, which is mostly consolidated, favored consolidation for their local government, although support varies depending on the service," Antrim writes. "Among the services most favored for consolidation include public transportation, at 73 percent, and road and highway maintenance, at 68 percent. Park and recreation programs, prisons and public libraries were also favored for consolidation by more than half of the respondents, while less support was aired for consolidation of police and fire rescue services. At 45 percent, consolidation on public schools received the least support."
Tuition for veterans
Scott Waldman has a story in the Times Union about U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer introducing legislation that would allow veterans to keep the tuition benefits they were promised under the 2008 Post-9/11 GI Bill. "Veteran students were eligible for full tuition benefits at public institutions, or they could receive up to the same benefit amount if attending a private institution," Waldman writes. "However, a 2010 law would cap that amount at $17,500 for private institutions. Under the current rules, students at private institutions are able to receive up to $1,010 per credit hour or $25,250 for a typical full-time academic year." The change could have meant about 1,000 students would have to drop out. "This legislation will fix this inequity and ensure that our veterans receive the full benefits they were promised and rightly deserve," Schumer said in a statement. "It will make sure we don't change the rules in the middle of the game."
Deadline nears for decision on grant money
Michael Ryan writes in the Windham Journal about a deadline drawing near for government leaders in Lexington to either use or lose a $9.1 million block grant from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to build a wastewater treatment system in their central hamlet. There is a very real possibility the money could be lost, Ruan writes. "Town board members, at a meeting last week, decided to hold off until the last available moment to let the Catskill Watershed Corporation, administrators of the DEP dollars, know if they will push forward with the pre-construction phase of the proposed sewer project." CWC executive director Alan Rosa has given local officials a May 6 ultimatum to either take or leave the DEP offer, stating in a letter, “if the town has not passed a resolution by that date, CWC will accept that your town is not interested and move on to the next community on the list.” In the late 1990s, New York City created a priority list to improve wastewater treatment in 22 watershed communities. The New York City agency has already built systems in the nearby towns of Ashland, Hunter, Prattsville and Windham, among over a dozen altogether.
Civil War Sesquicentennial
Carole Osterink has a reminder about the Friday, April 15 gala opening for a special Columbia County exhibition commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War taking place from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Hendrick Hudson Chapter House of the Daughters of the American Revolution at 113 Warren Street in Hudson. Her Gossips of Rivertown blog adds that a public opening for the exhibit will take place Saturday, April 16, from 1 to 4 p.m. Centering the new exhibit is a restored historic flag.
Bear in DEC's cross hairs after woman attacked
Brian Fitzgerald reports in the Times Union that the Department of Environmental Conservation has set up a large trap outside the home of a woman who was knocked down by a bear in her driveway on April 13. They plan to euthanize the first large bear that is caught, according to DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson. He added that the DEC will not know for sure whether or not a bear caught in the trap is the same one that attacked the woman, but that the first large bear caught will be killed. Because the woman said she was attacked by a fully grown bear, Georgeson said the DEC will not euthanize any cubs or smaller bears that are trapped. "It basically will be up there until we catch one," he added. "We're going to err on the side of caution."