Cell Tower And 2013 Budget Dominate News From Town Hall
By Laurie Willow
From Issue 17: Winter 2013
At the Special Meeting of the Town Board on November 17, 2012, the final 2013 Budget for the Town of Gardiner was adopted. It is a budget of over 2.4 million dollars. Where does it go?
Here’s what it looks like graphically.
In numbers, that’s:
The annual budget debate in Gardiner is no different from the larger American debate. It centers on whether we are all willing to chip in to make life better for everyone. The only category over which the town of Gardiner has some spending discretion is the “General” category, but it must first cover salaries and benefits for town employees, the physical running of the town hall building, legal fees (about $60,000 in 2012), justice court, tax collection, animal control, home relief, etc. It is only what remains after those expenses are covered that is “up for grabs.” This year’s budget includes nothing for fireworks on the 4th of July, and allocates only $104,000—about 4% of Gardiner’s budget—for “culture and recreation.” This pays for parks maintenance, the youth program (Summer Rec) and adult rec.
How does the rest of the town feel about this kind of quality of life expenditure? We can’t know, since there is also no money allocated for commissioning a survey to find out: are fireworks important? Should we spend more money beautifying Main Street? Preserve more open space? Spend some money to study how we can boost our local economy? Would expenses like these be a worthwhile investment in our future, or a frivolous expenditure in a recession economy? “The people who come out to Town Board meetings for the budget discussions are always the people who don’t want us to spend any money,” says Town Supervisor Carl Zatz.
So, should we raise taxes for things that improve the community? Hypothetically, what if we added $100,000 to the budget just for quality of life issues? If your house is assessed at $400,000, you would pay $56 more per year. It’s time to find out what the “silent” portion of Gardiner’s population has to say. Put your 2¢ into the discussions. Visit www.townofgardiner.org and look at the budget for this year. Come to Town Board meetings and be a part of what drives Gardiner into the future. Follow the Town of Gardiner on Facebook and Twitter.
On other matters, in a letter beginning “Not withstanding its best efforts, Wireless Edge hereby withdraws its applications, due to changed circumstances, for site plan approval [that was] pending [before the various Boards] …,” efforts to build a cell tower in Moran Field next to the Town Hall came to an end. The letter closes with “Wireless Edge nevertheless remains committed to developing wireless telecommunication infrastructure in the Town to serve its citizens, first responders, tourists, and others traveling to and through the town.”
Now that the site at the Town Hall has been abandoned, the next step is to find a site, or perhaps multiple sites, with shorter towers that could “hide in existing landscape.” It may be possible for the Town Board to consider sites on private property, even though that will mean giving up an income from the cell tower.