Town and village officials plan for the new year

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— At the close of last year The Warwick Advertiser contacted the Supervisor of the Town of Warwick and the Mayors of the Villages of Warwick, Florida and Greenwood Lake and invited them to discuss their outlook and plans for the New Year.

We asked what do you expect to accomplish in 2019 that will make a difference in how services are delivered, aid taxpayers or in some other way benefit the public and what obstacles will you face?

We received the following responses:

Warwick Town Supervisor Michael SweetonThe challenge every year is how to maintain service levels, invest in infrastructure and minimize the town portion of the property tax which is historically the lowest portion, about 10 percent, of the total county, town and school property tax burden.

What makes this extremely difficult is the state-mandated contribution levels to the New York State retirement system and the New York State-run health insurance program.

This year those contributions were $252,000 and $303,000 respectively while our New York State Tax Cap limit was $286,000.

So we continue to work as a team- town board, department heads and employees- to keep service levels where needed while keeping downward pressure on costs.

We look for new revenue sources like leases for cell towers on town-owned land, grants from state and federal sources, providing services for other municipalities like our management of several bus operations for neighboring towns and sharing of equipment with other Towns.

In 2019 we will continue to seek relationships where for a fee we can share our expertise to help others be more efficient in their operations.

We also have been working hard to re-develop the former Mid-Orange Correctional Facility and have already established many businesses on site.

This not only provides job opportunities it is also providing tax revenues through increased assessments which will have a positive affect on the burden of residential taxpayers.

More is coming and 2019 promises to produce more positive results at the new Warwick Corporate Park.

Our farmland protection program continues to produce benefits in controlled growth, protection of natural resources, positive business development and millions in tourism dollars for our villages, hamlets and town. As we enter 2019 we will work hard to do what we can to maintain the viability of our working farms.

What obstacles will you face? As always the major obstacle for local government is to maintain a high level of public safety and well-maintained infrastructure in a time of diminishing resources. While we recognize the portion of property taxes that flow to the Town is less than 10 per cent, any impact on overburdened New Yorkers must be minimized. We, in Town government, will continue to strive each and every day to make your tax dollars go as far as they can go in a productive way.

Florida Village Mayor Daniel Harter Jr. A few of the goals the Board of Trustees and myself would like to accomplish in 2019 are converting the street lights within the village to Light-Emitting Diodes (LED’s). This will reduce energy costs and increase energy efficiency.

Finishing our master plan will give us a blueprint for where we as a village will want to go in the years to come, for ourselves and within the Town of Warwick as a whole.

Another goal is to begin with substantially reducing invasive aquatic vegetation in Glenmere Lake. This will improve the overall health of the lake and provide a better water quality for our residents.

A large obstacle we will face with this particular endeavor is lack of cooperation from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Greenwood Lake Village Mayor Jesse DwyerThe year 2019 will be an exciting year for Greenwood Lake.

Over the past six years, the village board has been able to deliver high quality services at the best price for taxpayers.

In the upcoming year we have some big plans to make major investments in our water treatment system, expanding youth services at the new teen center and throughout the community, and we are currently in talks to go after grant funding for annual lake maintenance projects with state officials.

The record rainfall in 2018 created significant challenges for our local businesses as well as some projects within the village.

Thankfully, the well expansion project that we began mid-way last year should be complete in the spring despite the prohibitive weather.

I look forward to continuing to work hard, along with our village board, administration and staff for the people of Greenwood Lake.

Warwick Village Mayor Michael NewhardThe village is facing one of its largest and most costly infrastructure projects in many years with the replacement and upgrade of its Waste Water Treatment Plant.

The plant is estimated at $12 million. The project will be going through its preliminary stages in 2019, which will include design and the immediate installation of an ultraviolet disinfection system.

Over the past year we have been doing informational outreach to help the public fully understand the need, process and cost.

This we will continue to do especially as we create a multi year financial plan.

The former plant served the community for over 50 years. The new plant and new technology will better serve us with overall efficiency and higher levels of environmental stewardship.

The greatest challenge we face is how to pay for such an expensive project with the least fiscal impact on our residents.

The village applied for a highly competitive Water Infrastructure Improvement Act Grant through the New York States Environmental Facilities Corporation and received a $3 million dollar award.

The village will continue to search for programs that will reduce the fiscal burden and make this important infrastructure project a reality. The new plant should be complete by 2021.

The Village Board continues to make infrastructure its priority.

This includes ongoing projects that will improve its water system, roads, parks, and cultural amenities.

This year we will also begin the rewriting of our Comprehensive Master Plan, an integral document that will help guide the future growth of our village.

For all the challenges we may face the continual focus on critical infrastructure, planning and outreach will lead us to a stronger, more sustainable and healthier community.

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