CATSKILL — Village officials Tuesday unanimously approved a budget that dropped by 3% compared to last year.

The 2021-22 budget comes in at $4,711,937, with $3,912,816 raised by taxes.

The tax rate in the 2021-22 budget will be $23.91 for every $1,000 of the assessed value of a property, up one cent from the previous budget.

“I am very comfortable with the budget,” Village President Peter Grasse said after the public hearing at Catskill High School. “I believe each department will have the funds they need to produce and I think it’s a very responsible budget.”

There are no service or program cuts under the new budget, but the operating budget for the police department decreased from $124,950 in the 2020-21 budget to $100,000 in this year’s budget because many repairs to patrol cars will be done by in-house mechanics in the village’s Department of Public Works from now on, Grasse said.

A sergeant in the department is also retiring, Grasse said. His salary remains in the budget and will be still be used for personnel.

“We have to include that salary in the budget, so with that salary we will be backfilling with part-timers or somebody moving from part-time to full-time,” Grasse said.

Additional foot patrols will be scheduled and a bike patrol will be added, he said.

In the public hearing portion of Tuesday’s sparsely attended meeting, two residents had questions for the board.

Deb Samuels inquired about a steep decline in projected revenue other than taxes, which dropped from $922,230 in the 2020-21 budget to $799,121 in this year’s budget.

“Did you have some special revenue last year?” Samuels said. “Total revenue other than taxes dropped $120,000. Was last year some kind of boon?”

The difference was due to the village’s decision to consolidate the village court with the town court, so there will be no revenue from the village court in the coming year, village officials said.

Samuels also asked about funds the village will receive from the federal COVID-19 stimulus package.

“In the stimulus bill there was a huge amount of money that was supposed to go to New York state to be divvied up among municipalities,” Samuels said. “I thought we were getting some of that. Is that in here somewhere?”

Grasse responded that those funds will first go to the town and it is unclear how much money the village will be awarded.

“We can’t budget for it because we don’t even know the amount,” Grasse said.

Town Councilman Patrick McCulloch, speaking from the audience, said those funds are earmarked for specific purposes.

“There are only certain things that money can be used for,” he said.

Resident Lisa Marafioti asked about health insurance expenses.

“Under employee benefits, for hospital and medical insurance, it goes from $854,100 to $896,100. That is a big jump,” Marafioti said.

The budget-to-budget difference in that line item is $42,000.

Grasse said he would have to look into the matter to determine why the increase took place.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

(1) comment


Rather than invest in a hospital or licensed social workers, Greene County opted to create a new $90 million debt obligation ($39 million loan, $16 million in interest, $8 million from “reserves,” operation and maintenance). This new debt adds 20% in new taxes to each county resident.

The demolition of the Sheriff’s Office was not because of “concerns” about its structure. I proved by critiquing RicciGreene, Delaware, Kaaterskill, Barton & Loguidice’s reports that the building was sound. Kaaterskill then recanted their report. Barton & Loguidice finally affirmed the Sheriff’s Office needed some maintenance – but had no terminal flaws.

All of the money leaves the county. The loan and its interest leave Greene County. The construction crews weren’t Greene County Companies. The money taken from “reserves” must be put back. But, our economy and population are shrinking, not growing. The federal pandemic stimulus funds can’t pay existing debt.

In addition, Treasurer Peter Markou told me he has an unfunded retirement and employee health care obligation of $40 to $120 million debt.

The health care costs for the jail leave Greene County. Rather than building local talent, the county bleeds us, further deteriorating the needs of our community.

Summary: the loan, its interest, the fees to the construction companies, and now the health care costs all leave Greene County!

This so-called health care described in the article is not remedial. There’s no restorative program in any plan for this facility, no budget for licensed social workers or Ph.D. Psychologists or M.D> Psychiatrists.

No one in jail is improved, not physically and certainly not mentally. It’s fair to conclude the detainee is always harmed. The intent is punishment.

This external health service, which is described coldly as a “bureaucratic obligation,” demeans the real needs of the detainee.

These people are not inmates. To a large extent, they’re unconvicted detainees – even with the general lack of bail.

The lack of bail, btw, means there should be almost no one in custody.

The ratio of men to women shows this facility and its police are another ugly testosterone pit.

We haven’t learned from our “worst offender” rating from the State Commission of Correction. We have not gained the necessary insight from the FOILed correspondence from SCOC slamming the management, including severe criticism of the county attorney Ed Kaplan.

It’s essential to know the surrounding county jails are 85% empty.

Our income is primarily from tourism, which is incompatible with a pandemic. Greene County was in bad shape before COVID-19.

Nevertheless, these managers went forward with a needless new prison, sending huge funds out of the county. We destroyed a historic Sheriff’s Office, another $6.2 million loss. We lost our Catskill Community Center.

This jail is a complete waste, economically and morally. The village lost a historic building and the community center. It can't get hold of the Village of Catskill Police budget.

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