The New Paltz Times recently published the Q&A from the candidates for the Gardiner Town Board. Let’s look at what my opponents’ state they have to offer. One candidate wants to reduce the town’s services to only those which she deems essential: safety, highway and tax collection. What would that mean? The following would immediately be eliminated: the Transfer Station, Majestic Park, the Library. How about the animal control officer, the Gardiner Senior Resource Committee which serves all of Gardiner’s seniors? What will happen to the need for updates to the Master Plan and Code? Maintenance on the rail trail? The Pole Barn, the gazebo? New financial management software to provide modern tools to better able to manage Gardiner’s finances?
How much money would be saved? According to the Gardiner Assessor’s Office for 2017, Gardiner residents in the New Paltz School District, per $1000 of assessed valuation of their property, paid:
$21.50 in school tax, 74% of their taxes
$ 4.29 in count taxes, 15% of their taxes
$ .30 for the Library, 1% of taxes
$ 1.51 for Highway, 5.2% of taxes
$ . 51 for fire, 1.8% of taxes
$ .94 for General Budget Expenses, 3.1% of taxes.
On a tax bill of $8000, $248 is what is as a result of the budget under the control of the Town Board. All other costs are from other entities: Fire, Highway, County, and Library. If one believes that any tax is too much, than any tax cut is better than nothing. For some in our community, even this amount is meaningful if not large in dollars. It certainly has a symbolism far beyond the dollars involved. What makes a catchy slogan or a good bumper sticker does not necessarily make for good governance. It is a lot easier to be the party of “No” than it is to govern.
Both (non-Democratic) candidates for Town Board have also called for changes to zoning that would override the Master Plan by allowing for more development. They favor reduction of the current 5-acre zoning to 2 acres. The argument is that such changes will make Gardiner “more affordable” for the next generation. The cost savings obtained by the reduction on a 2000 sq. ft. raised ranch house would amount to $78/month on a 30-year mortgage at 4%. Many of the aspects of living in Gardiner that residents have come to enjoy would be compromised. More housing would mean more traffic, longer drives, more stop signs and lights, more kids in schools needing more classrooms and teachers, more pollution, more light at night, more noise and more demand on local resources. The relatively few dollars saved with smaller lots will be go to higher taxes for schools and increased services. The savings are not there. This is the kind of thoughtful attention I give to issues that come before the board–analysis for understanding, consideration of options that fit Gardiner. Please vote for me on November 7th.