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Dear Pine Plains 2.8.19

Dear Pine Plains,

This week I attended the monthly meeting of the Dutchess County Supervisors and Mayors Association. It is a great resource for what other towns are doing, or not doing, and advice. As the rookie last year, I was drafted into becoming their Secretary, which suits my skill set and which I am happy to do. Hence, I am on the Board of this group. In that capacity, I get to go to meetings with the County Executive among other things. These meetings are usually rousing, opinionated, and thrilling. One of the main topics at both meetings was the fact that the proposed State budget for 2019 takes away State Aid for towns. This aid is called AIM. For Pine Plains, this is a loss of a budgeted $9,000+, which in a small town like this is a lot of money. If our AIM is cut, this will mean that the tax cap is exceeded and taxes will go up. Our group is writing a strong letter to the governor against eliminating this aid. Another topic at both meetings was ambulance service in Dutchess County. The County Executive is working on a Shared Service idea which would combine service for small towns in various areas at a rather heavy price. He warned us that this is coming in about a year. That said, there might be an opportunity for our Rescue Squad to become one of the providers of this service, which means they could be paid for their work.  I will certainly advocate for that if allowed. More on this as his plan is revealed. At issue also is the tax cap. The history of the tax cap is that it was imposed on school districts to keep them from going overboard, then imposed on towns in order to be equitable. Putting the tax cap into permanent status is on the table right now. Our feeling is that the tax cap should not include capital projects, which greatly inflate our budgets. Those are just a few of the things we discussed at both meetings. I believe that this is a very valuable association for Pine Plains to be a part of, and it’s always exciting to go down to the County Building and meet with CE Molinaro and his staff.

We had our first meeting of Group of Strangers on Thursday. From 1-2pm every Thursday, Addiction Recovery Coach CaraMia Bacchiochi will be here to just sit and talk with people about addiction. She’s a wise person and this is a safe space to talk about anything. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, and are reticent to talk with her, remember this: the stigma of being an addict is what prevents us from getting help when we need it. And if you think that no one knows what you’re going through in a small town, consider this: everyone knows. So take the first step and go talk to CaraMia!

I sat down with advocate Sam Busselle to discuss affordable housing this week as well. Sam helped start the Northeast Community Center in Millerton, which among other things, helps transport people from Pine Plains to their doctor appointments and the VA via their Dial-a-Ride program. He is trying to put together a collaborative approach for this between 3 towns. He is sponsoring a conference April 12th in Millerton on the subject and we will be in attendance. He is looking for interested investors. There is a lot of innovative action in this area including passive solar homes being built in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity at a cost of around $140,000.

So many balls in the air, so little time!

Stay juggling, Pine Plains!