By Mark Reynolds
A slight tax increase is on the table for Marlborough residents, based on the town’s preliminary budget presented last week.
Last week the Marlborough Town Board held a public hearing on their preliminary 2023 town budget but after no questions, the board closed the hearing.
The board broke down the preliminary budget for 2023; the General Fund part of the budget stands at $5,628,434. The revenue coming in for this line is expected to be $1,199,500, which drops the total to $4,428,934. The board further reduced this by tapping $180,000 from the unexpended fund balance, resulting in $4,248,934.
The highway portion of the budget is $2,471,280 and revenues of $145,468 lowers this to $2,325,812.
Two other budget items are of note: the Marlboro Fire Department budget came in at $874,850 and the Milton Company at $692,300.
Additional revenues in the budget of $1,723,985 come from the Marlborough and Milton sewer charges and Marlborough water charges.
Additional items in the budget cover the Milton, Marlborough and McLaughlin Lighting districts, along with numerous drainage districts.
The actual preliminary total town budget for 2023 is $11,555,822 but revenues of $3,068,953 along with the $180,000 from the fund balance, lowers the amount to be raised by the tax levy to $8,306,869.
In phone interview Supervisor Scott Corcoran said the preliminary budget for next year shows an increase of 1.32% from 2022, but believes this may be even lower once the board approves a final budget.
As the preliminary budget now stands, a home assessed at $200,000 will pay $22.30 more than last year; a home assessed at $300,000 will see an increase of $33.45 in their taxes and a $400,000 home will pay an additional $44.60 over their 2022 tax bill. Corcoran said as the Town Board sharpens their pencils, he is hoping that by the October 24th meeting they will be able to lower these figures a little more in their final budget.
Corcoran took a moment to thank Budget Officer Christina Pulliam for her dedication and hard work on the 2023 budget.
“Chris spends hours and hours going through this [budget] and I just want to publicly thank you for all you do and keeping us on a level field and making sure our budget is right, especially our audits,” he said.
Lattintown Traffic Woes
Corcoran brought up the issue of the increasing traffic in the Mt. Zion/Lattintown Road area near the Weed Farm.
Police Chief Gerald Cocozza said that traffic has been backing up in this area, especially on weekends.
Corcoran said, “We all know this goes on every year with the pick-your-owns and it’s getting more and more and ever since covid, it’s gotten worse but they have to have a plan that’s better than what is currently going on.” Cocozza pointed out that, “even if there were a dozen cops there, the traffic is still coming off of Lattintown Road. So let’s try to come up with a better plan.”
Corcoran acknowledged the economic benefits to Weed Farm and to the Town of Marlborough but there is an impact to the neighbors who live in the surrounding area and it may also prevent or slow ambulances trying to get to an emergency call during a critical incident.
“It’s becoming an issue that is unsustainable,” he said.
Councilman Dave Zambito pointed out that sometimes local people get frustrated and go around a line of backed up cars and drive in the oncoming lane just to get through, calling this a dangerous situation where someone might get killed.
In a subsequent interview Corcoran said days after the board meeting, there were two meetings with John Weed and his daughter Erica that also included Building Inspector Tom Corcoran, Highway Superintendent John Alonge and Gary Lazaroff, Chief Gerald Cocozza and Councilwoman Sherida Sessa.
Corcoran said they discussed the increased traffic and parking issues that have been taking place. He said John Weed agreed to remove a corn maze on his farm that will create about 80 more parking spaces this year and promised 100 more next year, along with adding signage to tell people where the nearby overflow parking is located. The Weeds will also be hiring a second off-duty police officer to help direct traffic on very busy days.
“The Weeds were very good and very responsive and they had no problem with doing anything that we suggested. I couldn’t ask for a better response from both of them,” Corcoran said. “I want everyone to understand that we’re not picking on the farmers but we want to make it safe for everyone to visit the farms and to get up and down the roads. I think it was a good response from us and a good response from them to try to solve the issue.”
Towing License Approved
The Town Board approved a towing license for Nicky D’s Towing after a vacancy on the town’s tow list occurred after one company was sold. This brings the tow list up to 7 companies.
Chief Cocozza said Nicky D’s Towing was next on the list and applied.
“He’s going to occupy the same location that Autos By Joseph occupies on Route 9W, only he will be in a separate garage building that’s on that property and they will co-share the fenced-in impound yard,” Cocozza said. He acknowledged that Nicky D is the son of Joseph DiBlanca, owner of Autos By Joseph.
Initially, Cocozza said there was an issue on the application, with the two entities having the exact same address but this was fixed by making it suite 1 and suite 2, “so it separates the identification of the two businesses at the location.”
Cocozza said there was an issue with zoning, but the applicant has since also straightened that out.
Chief Cocozza said the town’s towing companies are on a round robin list, “and we start wherever we left off the last time. That person gets a call and if they are available they come out for the tow, and if not they don’t come out for the tow, however, in the rules there are only so many times you can decline before we can take action. We have never really taken action because 99% of the time there are good excuses.”
Cocozza informed the board that one other company is coming off the list as they have sold their tow truck and the person who bought the truck is not interested in being on the tow list. He also noted that Marlborough does not have a heavy duty operator and when needed, he calls Erichsen’s Auto in Highland.