Saturday, November 8, 2008

The New Paltz Town Budget

I haven't looked deeply at the tentative budget for the Town of New Paltz, being that those documents are longer than a DEIS and perhaps more boring, but I found a couple of interesting tidbits about it in recent news coverage. Both the Elting Memorial Library and Moriello Pool have lines that cause me to raise an eyebrow; in both cases, a lack of foresight leads to an annoying problem.

Elting Memorial Library

Ira Margolis complained about the ramp into the library at my first meeting as a member of the Village Planning Board. He was concerned that the configuration of the wheelchair ramp could lead a disabled person to take a serious tumble down the stairs, and he wanted the library to put in a gate to prevent it.

I can understand how that one was missed - until I heard him talk about it, it never occurred to me that it was a dangerous situation. However, it was clear as day the next time I walked up that ramp. I don't blame the library for building it as they did (it was compliant with ADA rules, after all), but I find the board's resistance to fixing it until now to be disingenuous. It was an honest screwup, but one that was pointed out quite some time ago. If the board had been forthcoming about this sincere (and dangerous) mistake, and made it known that they wanted to fix it, I think they could have found some folks willing to pitch in to make things right. Instead, they wait months and then ask the Town to make it right? I wish they hadn't tried to dodge the issue.

Moriello Pool

Okay, the question is should we allow people to barbecue there without paying to get into the pool? According to director Bill Russell, no way! He's pretty ticked off that the budget is proposing an employee to monitor a gate into the playground/picnic area so folks can enjoy those taxpayer-funded benefits without going into the pool. According to the Russell "feels the idea is a waste of taxpayer dollars because the playground was intended to be part of the Moriello Park and the public can use it throughout the year - except during the 12 when the pool was open."

Um, Bill? Can you explain to me how much barbecuing and playground activity you expect to happen the other 40 weeks a year? And whether or not it's true that the playground was intended be part of your fiefdom, Bill, did it occur to you that maybe those taxpayers whose interests you are so interested in defending should have been asked if they wanted it gated off in the first place?

Of course Toni Hokanson, defender of the majority, also feels that it's a bad idea to make facilities paid for all by accessible to all, using the same argument she uses when she tries to minimize the overwhelming public opposition to Crossroads. I'd be more willing to agree with Toni in this case if she had submitted these plans to the Town Planning Board for approval, but wait! that's not necessary for the town government to do! Good golly Miss Molly, they are not subject to their own laws!

Overall I expect that Toni prepared the best budget she could, and I'm not criticizing it. I'm just interested in the gaggle of previously-made bad decisions that this process brings to light.


kt said...

Two other budget lines need our attention right now: monies for Family and the Y. Both are being cut completely and we need to find out why. Something about needing a welfare officer which Toni is (supposedly) not willing to serve as... I wish I had more details for you... but given the tremendous Family and Y contributions to the community and the current economy we need to find answers, soon.

kt said...

Update - Kitty and Toni have assured me that it is not a matter of just having an officer, and that they have three lawyers working on it to figure out a way to keep Family in the budget. For some reason the chances of keeping the Y are not as likely.