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March 28, 2013

Trustees complete tentative budget; final approval on April 11

Board votes to repeal parking limits on South Avenue

By Greg Klein
Cooperstown Crier

---- — The Cooperstown village board of trustees will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, to vote on a final budget for 2013-14.

The chances that the board will approve going over the 2 percent state cap on raising property taxes this year diminished when Mayor Jeff Katz closed the public hearing on the issue at Monday’s board meeting without calling for a vote.

“I was certainly more worried about (needing it) before our last go-round with the budget,” Katz said. “I guess we can still vote on it in April if we need to do so.”

Although there were five public hearings on Monday, only one received any public comment from residents, the repeal of two-hour parking on the north side of South Avenue.

“It really is restrictive to those of us that live there,” Maureen Kuhn said. “I would like to encourage you to do away with it totally.”

A few minutes later the board did so, voting 4-0 to remove the parking restrictions, which had been in place for four months. Katz and trustees James Dean, Ellen Tillapaugh and Frank Capozza all voted in favor of lifting the restrictions.

Trustees Lynne Mebust, Walter Franck and Cynthia Falk were not at the meeting.

The board also voted to approve several zoning changes, amending a 2010 law. Among the changes were: Adding multi-family dwellings to a special permit for the business district, adding mixed occupancy to a special permit for the commercial district, changing minimum yard requirements for addition structures on residential properties to a 10-foot setback rather than a 20-foot setback and amending requirements for off-street parking to one space for one-bedroom units rather than two spaces minimum per family.

The board reset a public hearing on neighbor notifications for structural changes on a house or property until April because of a change in the language of the amendment. It did, however, vote unanimously to approve an amendment on neighbor and newspaper notification on requests for signage.

The tentative budget for the village was published on March 20. The budget is balanced with revenues and appropriations both totaling $5,327,154. Revenues include nearly $1.8 million in real estate taxes and more than $3.2 million in other revenues such as sales tax, clerk fees and parking revenues.

More than 60 percent of the appropriations are going to general fund services such as police, fire and ambulance departments, street maintenance and improvement, municipal salaries and benefits and building services and maintenance.

The April 11 budget meeting is a public hearing, although Katz said based on past experiences, he did not expect much public comment.

New board members Lou Allstadt, Bruce Maxson and Joan Nicols will be sworn in at 12:30 p.m. April 1 and take part in an organizational meeting that evening to receive committee assignments.

Maxson and Nicols replace Mebust and Franck for full three-year terms on the board. Allstadt will serve out the final year for Capozza, who served one year as a replacement when Katz was elected mayor.

The board also approved the purchase of two vehicles, one for the police department and one donation to the fire department.

The police department will buy a patrol car, a Ford Police Interceptor, which is the car now being used by New York state as a replacement for the Crown Vic Police Interceptors. Using the state bid, the cost of the car will be just more than $34,000. Originally the purchase of the car was budgeted for 2013-14, but the board approved moving up the purchase because of left-over reserve funds.

Police Chief Mike Covert had previously told the board that the car was needed because of repeated breakdowns to the two department SUVs. The problems with the SUVs became more severe in early March when both vehicles were involved in accidents on the same night. The Chevy Tahoe was parked on a side street during a routine call when it was struck by a civilian vehicle. The Dodge Durango was parked on Chestnut Street during a call at the Peppermill Restaurant when it was struck by a Cooperstown ambulance.

The fire department is buying a new brush truck, a Ford F350XL, which is outfitted with fire equipment, with about $68,000 raised by department members. The board approved the donation of the truck to the department. The village will pay for the insurance and maintenance of the truck.

“It is basically a big pickup truck with lots of brush hoses,” Capozza said. “It is important that we have a truck that can get in close when we have a brush fire, and our big trucks can not do that.

“The department has raised the money to buy the truck and would like to make it a gift to the village to celebrate its 200 years of service,” he said.

In other news, the board approved the village to join the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Membership costs $250, but allows the village to apply for historic preservation grants, including ones that might help finance the restoration of the Village Building at 22 Main St.