By Katherine Donlevy
One day after Gardiner reported its first Covid-19 related death, the town board unanimously passed a resolution to protect its most vulnerable residents from potentially contracting the dangerous virus.
The resolution adopts a Dec. 19 executive order by Gov. Cuomo that allows for the suspension of annual property tax exemption renewal applications for the 2021 season for senior citizens, persons with disabilities and those with limited income who had qualified in the 2020 season. Filings typically need to be made each January, but vulnerable populations can opt out this year as a precaution — these populations no longer have to risk their health in order to visit Town Hall and will receive the same exemption amount that they qualified for last year.
“If we pass this resolution, our seniors and our disabled residents will not need to come into town hall to register for their exemptions,” Town Supervisor Marybeth Majestic said Jan. 12 before she and her four colleagues voted to approve the resolution.
The option to mail in applications is still available for those who would benefit from filing their exemptions this January, as well as the option to visit Town Hall if they should choose. New applicants or those who have a changed income must contact the assessor’s office.
Covid-19 cases in Ulster County remain high, reaching a peak of 2,419 on Dec. 31, according to county data. On the day of the board’s virtual meeting, the number had slowed to 1,940. Gardiner has reported 146 cases since the pandemic began nearly 10 months ago, 23 of which were active as of Jan. 13.
The high virus numbers also prompted the town board to install a drop box at the entrance doors of Town Hall in order to maintain a maximum distance between individuals at all times. Residents can leave correspondence as well as payments for town and county taxes, though the town will not accept cash, inside the box at any time of day. The option to mail in payments is also available.
During its Tuesday meeting, the board opened the public hearing regarding the moratorium on dog kennels and revealed that it will remain open for another month.
“I just want to say thank you for the moratorium,” said the only public speaking participant, who identified as a “Gardiner homeowner.”
The local law, which would impose a 6-month moratorium on the processing and approval of permits for commercial and non-commercial dog kennels in the town, was proposed after an application to erect one on Denniston Road caused an uproar with nearby neighbors, including Planning Board member Josh Verleun.
Verluen asked the town board to consider looking into and potentially revising Gardiner’s law, which he argued was too vague and could allow misconduct to legally slip through the cracks. The councilmembers agreed to evaluate current legislation and proposed the moratorium so that no new kennels could be approved ahead of a potential regulation switch.
The proposed local law is available on the town website and in the Town Hall for those interested in reviewing it ahead of the second portion of the public hearing, set to close Feb. 9.