June 2016
Fellow Canaan Residents:

It’s time for the annual Town Board update once again.

Town Finances

For the eighth year in a row the Town of Canaan had a flat or lowered property tax levy. Canaan has no debt and is not involved in any litigation. The Town continues to receive one of the highest scores for financial strength amongst municipalities from the NYS Comptroller’s Office. At the same time it has one of the lowest property tax rates in Columbia County at $1.42 per $1000 of assessed value.

The Town transferred $40,000 in May from unassigned to assigned reserves. On May 31st the Town had assigned cash reserves for highway equipment, buildings and Stoddard Field that totaled $262,097 and unassigned cash reserves that totaled $330,099. These reserves are built from unplanned overruns in Town revenues and with the help of some of your tax money, similar to contributing a portion of your income to a savings account. Canaan abides by the “old fashion” way of buying when you can afford it as opposed to borrowing when you can’t afford it.

The Town needs to make larger capital expenditures at various times in building repairs and highway equipment replacement. Our assigned reserves allow the Town to meet these expenditures without increasing your taxes. Our unassigned reserves protect us from unforeseen legal actions or extraordinary weather hazards. Our Town can meet unexpected expenditures up front, make the repairs, and continue to operate normally securing any insurance or FEMA/SEMA reimbursements later.

Included in this letter is a summary of Canaan’s 2016 Budget and a comparative view of how much we pay in various property taxes.

2016 Assessment Roll and Basic Star Exemption Changes

This year our Assessor’s office worked closely with the NYS Office of Real Property Tax Supervision (ORPTS) to maintain our average Town assessment at 100% of market value. Our Assessor and her assistant, with help from the County, have begun verifying data on properties around Town to update our property database so we can complete a full revaluation next year. Our last full revaluation was performed in 2010 by an independent company. The purpose of this revaluation is to maintain assessment levels which can be justified with current property data and local sales information. This revaluation will be done in-house directly by our Assessor at a negligible expense. The Town will receive a reimbursement from the State for some of those expenses.

As of March 2, 2015 any new primary residence purchased in New York State will not receive a Basic Star exemption on its September School Tax bill. Instead the State will handle the School Tax exemption on the NY State Income Tax forms or as a direct rebate. Exact details of how the exemption will be handled have not been released. Anyone who has owned a primary residence prior to March 2, 2015 will continue to receive the Basic Star Exemption on their September School Tax bill. The Enhanced Star exemption for seniors will continue to be handled on the School Tax bill even for new purchases. Visit the Assessors page on Canaan’s website for additional information as it becomes available.

New Website

Replaced late last year the Town’s new website is easier to update and contains more information specific to the Town of Canaan. Financial information, audit reports, public and special notices, calendars, current events, forms and applications, current Assessor and Code Enforcement information are now available. More internet links are provided to supplement information. Please visit our new website at www.canaannewyork.org.

Stoddard Field

The Town has begun a series of improvements and repairs to recreation equipment and landscaping at Stoddard Field to take place over the next two years. We have begun planting shade trees. The Highway Department will repair older recreation equipment and install new equipment this summer. We will also be consulting with an engineer and filing a joint application with the Army Corp of Engineers and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to dredge Stoddard Field’s pond.

Transfer Station

We have been receiving resident complaints about the absence of Transfer Station personnel checking stickers and assisting with throwing garbage into the tall containers, particularly on Saturday mornings. We have spoken to the Station manager repeatedly about these issues and he has spoken to his staff. Unfortunately the manager does not work on Saturdays and the staff seems to disperse to other duties.

The Town and Station are aware that there are a few people who are not residents using our account with the facility. The Town has tightened its policy regarding Maintenance Permits for C&D which historically has been the largest abuse. Combined result, the Town is comfortably below its contractual tonnage limit.

The Station manager has agreed that in the absence of a Station worker any resident who cannot put their garbage in the container can leave it on the ground next to the container. The Station also received a capital budget from its head office to purchase two new containers with hydraulic scoops on the side where residents can place their garbage before it’s lifted over the side into the container. We hope to see these new containers soon. New stickers for 2017-2018 will be available in October.

Highway Equipment and Garage

The Town added a used 2012 Ford 550 with only 18,000 miles to its fleet of trucks. The purchase price of $39,500 was paid for out of our Highway Equipment Reserve and had no impact on our property taxes. The truck replaced two older small trucks now up for auction. The Town has an updated Equipment Replacement Plan which maximizes resale values and coordinates purchases with assigned reserve levels to eliminate tax increases.

County Route 24 Bridge Replacement

Beginning the first or second week in June the bridge on County Route 24 spanning Indian Creek in Red Rock will be replaced by Columbia County. The bridge is very old and its capacity to accept water flow needs to increase. Public safety providers have been notified and have alternate routes. The replacement will take four to five months.

Broadband and Increased Internet Speed

County and Town committees have been formed to coordinate alternative delivery channels Countywide.

Reminders

• To those who own dogs, please make sure they have a rabies vaccination and are licensed at Town Hall.
• State law requires that material being transported in open vehicles be secured or covered so it does not leave the vehicle during transport. Please take the extra time to secure materials so they do not end up on our roads.
• Before making any construction changes to your home or property please check with the Code Enforcement Officer/Building Inspector to see if a building permit, inspection and Certificate of Occupancy are required.
• The Town Summer Youth Swim Program begins Tuesday July 5th and ends Friday August 12th. Sign up at Adams Point Beach. There will be two new swim programs offered this year, “Parent and Children Swim” 6 months and up with a caregiver, and “Adult Swim” for adults who wish to improve their technique or fitness.
• Adams Point Beach hours are Monday-Thursday 12pm to 6pm, Friday 12pm to 7pm, Saturday 10am to 7pm and Sunday 10am to 6pm.
• Seniors meet at the Town Hall every Wednesday from 11am-1pm with lunch provided by Columbia County. The meeting provides special programs and an opportunity to get to know your neighbors. For more information call Joan @ 518-392-4146. The County also provides daily meals to seniors through its ‘Meals on Wheels’ Program; contact the County @ 518 828-4258. Volunteers are needed to deliver meals; contact Town Hall.

The Board wishes to extend our thanks to our resourceful, professional Highway Department, our invaluable and knowledgeable employees and Justices, and all our volunteers on various boards and committees for their generous assistance to Town officials and the community. We would also like to thank our volunteer Fire Companies, Ambulance squad and NYS/County Police for their continued dedicated service to our public safety.

Rick Keaveney Brenda Adams Alan Miller David Patzwahl Terese Platten