Monthly Archives: April 2011

Amsterdam Taxpayers Revolt!

Governor Cuomo has proposed a 2% cap to control the ever-growing property tax in New York State which has reached intolerable proportions. A recent study by the non-partisan Washington DC based Tax Foundation group revealed that Montgomery County, New York has the 11th highest property tax in the NATION!

On Thursday, April 28, 2011, the Amsterdam Budget Review Committee agreed to a 17% increase in the City water fee, eliminating the 3% cap on utility fees and taxes instituted in 2004 by public referendum. This betrayal by our elected officials is a slap in the face to each an every citizen of this City who voiced their desire to institute the cap.

This violation of the public trust is also illegal without a mandatory referendum because it changes the powers of our elected officials.

Municipal Home Rule Article 2

§ 11. Restrictions on the adoption of local laws.

2. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, the legislative body of a county, city or village shall not be authorized by this chapter to adopt any local law which:

a. Amends the charter of the county, city or village, as the case may be, contrary to any provisions of such charter regulating its own amendment. This provision shall not abridge the right of the people of a county, city or village to amend their charter or approve a proposed new charter, where such amendment or proposed new charter is subject to a mandatory referendum.

We must not accept this breach of trust! As taxpayers we are entitled to representation and clearly we are not getting it!

This does not apply to 5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero, who I respect for voting NO to the outrageous budget proposition. He is the only one in touch with his constituency.

Let your opinion be heard! Call and email the members of the Budget Review Committee and voice your opinion. Tell them to go back and make the necessary cuts to bring the water rate back down to the 3% the people agreed to.

I attended the taping of the April 29, 2011 edition of The Show With No Name at the GWIB Coffeehouse on Upper Church Street in Amsterdam where former Corporation Counsel Bob Going, former City Assessor Michael Chiara, former Wells Superintendent of Schools/Amsterdam High School Principal Gavin Murdoch and Mayoral candidate Jim Nicosia discuss the tax situation. In the following clip, the group discusses their disgust with the GASD budget and plans to form a City Taxpayers Association.

There is a plan in the works to file an Article 78 lawsuit against the City of Amsterdam if they go ahead with their attempt to abolish the 3% cap without a mandatory referendum.

This issue is for the public to decide!

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Springtime for Amsterdam

Categories: Amsterdam, Entertainment, Photography | Tags: , , , ,

Phoebe Snow (1950-2011)

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Phoebe Snow died today of complications from a brain hemorrhage suffered in 2010. She was 60 years old.

Her 1975 hit song Poetry Man is indelibly etched in my brain as well as those of countless others who grew up in the 70’s. May she rest in peace.

Categories: Entertainment, Media | Tags: , ,

30 Pieces of Silver…

Day by day the City of Amsterdam Budget Review Committee meets and plots how they will increasingly betray us by imposing an ever growing water use fee to balance the budget. This proposed increase was first reported to be 37% and is now being reported by Jim McGuire of The Gazette as a 48% increase!

There was a 3% cap placed on the water fee by ordinance voted by referendum. But this seems to mean nothing to this committee who want to balance the budget on the backs of homeowners who are also facing a 16.2% increase in school tax.  Private water corporations who sell their utility to consumers are regulated by NYS Public Service Commission who, to insure it is justified, must approve any amount that is the greater of 2.5%  or $300,000. The City of Amsterdam also has ordinances in place that prohibit using revenue collected from water fees for purposes other than maintaining the water delivery system. Balancing the City budget is NOT a fiscal emergency!

Article X  C-66 [Amended 4-18-1995 by L.L. No. 1-1995]

The entire annual receipts for water and sewer rents, after deducting therefrom such sums as may be necessary to defray the expenses of departmental operations, capital maintenance and replacement and any transfer to the general fund as provided by New York State General Municipal Law § 94, shall be applied to payment of interest on the debt contracted for building and construction of the water and sanitary sewer systems and the Interest of any debt which has been contracted by the City of Amsterdam for like purposes; if any surplus shall remain it shall be set apart and invested by the Controller as a sinking fund or reserve for the payment of such debts

C-67 [Amended 4-18-1995 by L.L. No. 1-1995]

A. There shall be established and maintained by the Controller a special revenue fund for the water system, into which revenues raised through its operations shall be deposited. Said revenues shall be used solely for the operations, maintenance and facilities of the water system and for transfers to the general fund as provided by New York State General Municipal Law § 94. A record of all expenses associated with the operations of the water system shall be forwarded to the Controller’s office as they are incurred. Transactions conducted between said fund and the general fund or between said fund and another special revenue fund shall be billed and vouchered through the Controller’s office.

B. There shall be established and maintained by the Controller a special revenue fund for the sanitary sewer system, into which revenues raised through its operations shall be deposited. Said revenues shall be used solely for the operations, maintenance and facilities of the sanitary sewer system. A record of all expenses associated with the operations of the sanitary sewer system shall be forwarded to the Controller’s office as they are incurred. Transactions conducted between said fund and the general fund or between said fund and another special revenue fund shall be billed and vouchered through the Controller’s office.

C. The water and sanitary sewer systems shall each be independently self-sustaining through revenues. As regards operations, capital improvements, debt redemption and all other related costs and expenses, the general fund shall not subsidize the water and/or sanitary sewer funds nor shall either of said funds subsidize the other. Interfund borrowing shall only occur if the Mayor, upon recommendation of the Controller, shall declare a fiscal emergency or need to exist in one or the other of the funds mentioned above and the Common Council concurs by a four-fifths vote. All interfund loans shall be repaid within the period of one year from the date they were made.

Don’t sell us out for 30 pieces of silver! We beseech theesave the people of our beautiful city!

Categories: Amsterdam, Entertainment, Law, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

The Legendary Bob Cudmore

The Historic Amsterdam League was honored to hear Bob Cudmore recant stories of the Rug City at their general meeting April 20, 2011.

A native Amsterdamian, Bob along with Steve Dunn produced a labor intensive WMHT documentary about Amsterdam’s rich history that led to a weekly column in the Schenectady Daly Gazette. Bob authored “You Can’t Go Wrong – Stories From Nero and other Tales” a lighthearted parody of Amsterdam. Cudmore is also a radio talk show host on WVTL 1570 AM 104.7 FM.

The Council Chamber was packed as Bob recalled stories of Amsterdam’s history.  He quizzed the audience, asking them to identify photos pertaining to the history of the City rewarding correct responses with copies of his book “You Can’t Go Wrong”.

Here is a brief excerpt from Bob’s presentation as he recalls another legendary figure from Amsterdam’s Polish heritage, Michael J.Wytrwal.

Categories: Amsterdam, History, Media | Tags: , , , , , ,

Tying Up Loose Ends

I realize I have not posted here since last weekend, so I thought I would catch up on a few things. My cat Lee had extensive dental surgery on Monday.  An earlier post Pet Dentistry describes the genetic predisposition for bad teeth. The surgery went well but Dr. Murray was unable to remove the ear polyp due to its position deep in the ear canal.  All six teeth and a canine tooth required surgical extraction followed up with injectable pain medication twice a day for three days.

This is Lee on drugs after surgery on Monday.

Here is the dental chart with all the work that was done.

The cat is almost back to normal but will be eating soft food for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday April 12, 2011, I attending the City of Amsterdam budget meeting at City Hall and listened as department heads presented their budgets to the Common Council.  Here is a short excerpt from that meeting discussing the City’s promise to help Centro Civico with construction of the East End park. It was taken with the iPad2.

Thursday I took two Babka Breads and a fresh Kielbasa (from GWIB coffee house) down to my Dad in Hudson and spent the day with him.

Friday I baked a delicious buttermilk blueberry crumb cake.

Today I tried my hand at making fresh Italian sausage.

I have been trying to keep busy and not think about the enormous increase (37%) in water utility fee that was proposed by the City Controller, or the 16.2% tax increase passed by the Amsterdam City School District.

One unit in Amsterdam currently pays $352.89 for water, $267.47 for sewer and $217.56 for garbage annually. A 37% increase will bring water rate alone to $483.45 for one unit.

There has to be a better way than placing the burden on the backs of Amsterdam property owners. These elected officials need to do some real work and STOP SPENDING our money! Privatize the damn golf course so it can at least make money rather than siphon funds from the city. That water bill alone would be a big increase in revenue, aside from the salaries, insurance, capital expenditures and operational costs that the City continues to shell out. This is a sport enjoyed by an elite few that should be bearing the burden of its operation, not the taxpayers!

From a Daily Gazette article dated March 28, 2010 by reporter EdMunger:

The golf course needs upgrades for drainage, clubhouse improvements and cart paths that could cost as much as $400,000.

The city has spent roughly $46,000 each year during each of the past two years to accommodate the golf course’s cost of about $660,000, according to the city’s draft budget and the Golf Commission’s budget request.

Categories: Amsterdam, Cooking, Pets, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Amsterdam’s Ward Population 2010

Montgomery County Planning Department has just finished compiling the 2010 Ward populations for the City of Amsterdam. It looks like the 4th Ward has some boundary trimming to do as it is over the mean population of 3,724. Wards 3 and 5 need to increase their Ward boundaries to achieve the equitable population distribution.

According to the Amsterdam City Charter, the Common Council has three months to come up with the adjusted boundaries.  This is especially important for the upcoming City elections later this year.

Let’s see how our current elected officials respond to this Charter mandate. This simple task should prove their worthiness for reelection.

Mayor Thane has already bottomed out by suggesting this task be accomplished by some college students. The Mayor carelessly spent $4,000. of taxpayer money for Christmas lights on Main Street and another $800. for window decorations for the Winter mixer but has not suggested hiring a professional to redraw Ward boundaries.

April 6, 2011 The Daily Gazette – article by Ed Munger

Mayor Ann Thane on Tuesday said she is waiting for numbers from the Census Bureau to determine what changes might need to be made. She said she is considering getting students at local colleges, such as Union College or the College of Saint Rose, involved in a project to get it done while getting some experience in government. “I think it would be good for them,” the mayor said.


Changing her tune in Tuesday’s paper the Mayor makes the following statement:

April 12, 2011 The Recorder – article by Jessica Maher

“I think this might be a very good opportunity to invite the council to work collaboratively to establish the new lines,” said Mayor Ann Thane. “I think it’s important to know why, so that you can plan for the future, so we’ll be looking at that,” she said. “It should be a very interesting discussion.” It’s all a discussion the mayor thinks can be handled by the Common Council, calling it a job they were elected to do.

The job should go to Montgomery County Planning Department who are already on top of this important challenge.

Categories: Amsterdam, Law | Tags: , , , ,

In the Kitchen

For me, this weekend was about raking leaves and cooking.  My tax return was direct deposited into my bank account last week and aside from paying Amsterdam’s ridiculously high property tax, I decided to invest in some much needed kitchen equipment.

A knife sharpener that works.

A bamboo cutting board and a potato peeler that isn’t bent and rusted.

A twelve quart stock pot.

A strainer that fits the sink preventing backwash on the pasta.

A powerful stand mixer to replace my burned out hand mixer.

I tried some new recipes that came with the mixer, like these cookies that contain german, semi-sweet and white chocolate as well as toasted macadamia nuts.

My first attempt at Crusty French bread.

Pizza Rustica which is more like an Italian quiche containing mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan cheese with chopped prosciutto and sopressata, Italian sausage, fresh spinach and lots of eggs.

Anyone hungry?

Pizza Rustica Recipe for Stefan:

Categories: Cooking | Tags: , , , ,


Categories: Pets, Photography

Montgomery County’s Weighted Vote

The government of Montgomery County, NY uses a weighted vote system or apportionment in order to provide fair and equitable representation for its residents.

The diagram above shows the population from the 2000 Federal Census and the voting power of the Board of Supervisors assigned as a result of that census. The weighted votes are shown in parentheses. From the unequal voting power assigned the representatives from the City of Amsterdam’s five Wards we see that the City did not adjust its Ward boundaries that year.

Montgomery County Board of Supervisors

City of Amsterdam – 1st Ward – Vito L. Greco 518-842-3096                                                                                          2nd Ward – Barbara M. Johnson 518-842-7425                                                                            3rd Ward – Ronald J. Barone, Sr. 518-842-1105                                                                            4th Ward – Barbara S. Wheeler 518-842-6398                                                                              5th Ward – Karl Baia 518-441-8249

Town of Amsterdam – Thomas P. DiMezza 518-627-0201

Canajoharie – Herbert T. Allen 518-673-3115

Charleston – Shane T. Walters 518-875-6538

Florida – William E. Strevy 518-829-7675

Glen – Lawrence Coddington 518-853-4169

Minden – Thomas L. Quackenbush 518-993-2798

Mohawk – Gregory W. Rajkowski 518-829-7993

Palatine – Brian Sweet 518-673-5123

Root – John W. Thayer 518-332-7593

St. Johnsville – Dominick Stagliano 518-568-2462

Aside from voting power and equitable representation, the census results determine how the State and Federal governments distribute financial aid.  It is essential that our local governments adjust to accurately reflect the results of the 2010 Federal Census.

The following changes in population distribution from 2000 to 2010 indicate how Montgomery County needs to change its weighted votes.

Along with the City of Amsterdam’s Common Council, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors need to …

Do the Right Thing!

Categories: Law, Politics

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