May 2017

Fellow Canaan Residents:

It’s time for the annual Town Board update.

 

Town Finances

 

For the ninth year in a row, the Town of Canaan had a flat or lowered property tax levy. Canaan has no debt and continues to receive one of the highest scores for financial strength among municipalities from the NYS Comptroller’s Office. At the same time, it has one of the lowest property tax rates among towns in Columbia County at $1.38 per $1,000 of assessed value.

 

At year-end 2016 the Town had assigned cash reserves for highway equipment, buildings, and Stoddard Field that totaled $280,925 and unassigned cash reserves that totaled $368,429. These reserves have increased in the last six months due to unplanned revenue overruns, expense savings, and with the help of some of your tax money, similar to contributing a portion of your income to a savings account.

 

The Town needs to make larger capital expenditures at various times in building repairs, highway equipment replacement, roads, and bridges. Our assigned reserves allow the Town to meet capital expenditures without increasing your taxes. Our unassigned reserves protect us from unforeseen tax increases due to legal actions, extraordinary weather hazards, or expensive maintenance. We will discuss forthcoming cases of reserve use later in this letter.

 

Included in this letter is a summary of Canaan’s 2017 Budget and a comparative view of how much we pay in various property taxes. Visit our website, www.canaannewyork.org for expanded financial information.

 

2017-2018 Assessment Rolls

 

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 and ORPTS, began verifying data on properties around Town to update our property database so we can complete a full revaluation. The data verification process will be finished in June and the revaluation of properties will begin using the updated data and recent property sales. The final July 2018 property tax role will reflect the revaluation, which will be effective beginning with September 2018 School Taxes. The Town will receive a reimbursement from the State for some of the revaluation expenses.

 

Highway Equipment Purchase

 

The Town will add a scheduled new six-wheel MACK truck this year, replacing a similar 2003 International model.  As stated in our finance discussion, the purchase price of approximately $202,000 will be paid for out of our Highway Equipment Reserve and have no impact on our property taxes. The old truck will be sold at auction. The Town has an updated Equipment Replacement Plan that coordinates new purchases with assigned reserve levels to eliminate tax increases.

 

Bristol Road Bridge Replacement

 

The County and State are responsible for most bridges in our Town, including certain bridges on Town roads; however, there are a few bridges that are the Town’s responsibility to maintain. Our engineers have inspected the bridge on Bristol Road and informed us that it presently needs replacement. The Town Highway Department will repair the footings and replace the road deck next year. Total cost, including engineering, will approximate $300,000. The Town will use $150,000 of Consolidated Highway Improvement Funds (CHIPS), which we receive from the State each year, and $150,000 of our unassigned cash reserves (described earlier) to pay for the project. There will be no property tax increase.

 

County Route 24 Paving

 

This summer the County will finally grind and pave County Route 24. Thank you for your patience.

 

Groundwater Resources Study

 

This year the Town will partner with the NYS Rural Water Association to develop a Groundwater Resource Study and Protection Plan. This federally funded study includes an extensive examination of our underground rock formations, water sources, water flows, surface water, and aquafers. It even includes the last twenty years of history from well-drilling companies and the performance of those wells. Charting where water flows and is contained underground helps the Town plan future development and avoid contamination.

 

Broadband and Increased Internet Speed

 

As you may be aware, the second of three rounds of grants for the New York State Broadband for All initiative were awarded on February 28. Fairpoint Communications was a recipient of this round of grants and the Town of Canaan was earmarked by Fairpoint for bringing high-speed internet (25 Mbps or higher for $60 or less per month) online by the end of 2020. In addition, through the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) agreement with Charter Spectrum, Canaan is also earmarked for high-speed (at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload) internet service via Charter Spectrum by 2018.

 

The Town of Canaan Broadband Committee recently acquired, from the Columbia County Economic Development Council, maps of the Town of Canaan showing areas of the town that are (1) considered adequately served (meaning those areas currently have 25 Mbps service), and (2) areas targeted for improved service by Fairpoint under the new funding initiative, and (3) areas to be served by Charter Spectrum. We need your help to create an accurate internet service map of our town so that we can make sure all town residents who want basic broadband service are able to get it. You can help us by going to the Columbia County Supervisors’ Broadband survey at http://bit.ly/colcobroadbandsurvey. The survey asks you to test your current internet speed at the provided link (http://www.speedtest.net [this site will give you both your download and upload speed]. Both links are available on the Town’s website. For mapping purposes, the survey also asks your street address and who your provider is. The information you provide will be used to confirm or revise the existing coverage and speed of service in Canaan provided by the maps. This information will be used in future town, and county, discussions as these service improvement projects get underway.

 

Reminders

  • 2017-2018 Transfer Station stickers are available at Town Hall during Town Clerk office hours Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9:30am – 2:30pm, Thursday evenings 6:00pm – 8:00pm. By mail, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Town of Canaan, PO Box 459, Canaan NY 12029 and include your name, address, phone number, and license plate number.
  • To our residents who own dogs, please make sure they have a current rabies vaccination and are licensed at Town Hall for both your safety. Cats accessing the outdoors should also have a rabies vaccination.
  • 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, including generators, 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 Wednesday, July 5 and ends Tuesday, August 15. The program runs from 10:00am – 12:00pm and includes instruction for all ages. Complete the quick registration form at https://tinyurl.com/k6k2exy (available on the Town’s website).
  • Seniors meet at the Town Hall every Wednesday from 11:00am – 1:00pm with lunch provided by Columbia County. The meeting provides many special programs and an opportunity to get to know your neighbors. The County also provides meals to seniors through its “Meals on Wheels” Program; contact the County at 518 828-4258. Volunteers are needed to deliver meals; contact Town Hall at 518 781-3144 ext. 1.

 

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