Posts Tagged With: snow removal

Council Takes Two Steps Back

The tentative City of Amsterdam budget that included removal of a 3% tax cap, a 10% increase in retiree health contributions and a 17% increase in water fees was struck down last night by a vote of 4 to 3.  Mayor Ann Thane, Controller Heather Reynicke and Alderman William Wills voted FOR the proposed budget, while Aldermen Richard Leggiero, Joseph Isabel, Julie Pierce and Gina De Rossi voted AGAINST the budget.

The Common  Council is obviously feeling the effects of the taxpayer revolt exhibited in local blogs, on Facebook and through emails and phone calls. Montgomery County Legislator Karl Baia has taken up the cause with a petition signed by citizens against removing the 3% tax cap established by voter referendum. Montgomery County Business Development Center Director Ken Rose has issued a letter to City Hall expressing his concern of how the removal of the tax cap will negatively affect current and potential businesses in the County. There are also two pending lawsuits if the City does try to remove the 3% tap and utility fee cap. A large group of retired police officers and firefighters blasted the Common Council at Tuesday nights meeting concerning both the proposed 10% increase in retiree heath contributions and the removal of the 3% tax cap.

I sat through the Council meeting that lasted nearly two and a half hours. The public participation segment was the longest. Here are a few excerpts:

Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis and Aldermen Leggiero, Isabel, Pierce and DeRossi hold a private meeting before the start of the Amsterdam Common Council meeting held on May 3, 2011.

A retired City of Amsterdam Police Officer addresses the Common Council about the proposed 10% increase in retiree health insurance contributions, the proposed elimination of the 3% cap on taxes and fees put in place by mandatory referendum and paying the Montgomery County 911 bill of about $3,000. for last winters activation of the emergency phone system to get residents to move their cars during a snowstorm.

Vincenzo (Jim) Nicosia demands the Amsterdam Common Council respond to his budget questions. His request is at first denied by Mayor Thane who states the public participation section is not a back and forth segment. Controller Heather Reynicke decides to respond to Mr. Nicosia’s questions about a property reevaluation item in the budget.

Alderman Rich Leggiero, the voice of sensibility, speaks for the people by denouncing the 10% increase in retiree health contributions and the proposed removal of the 3% tax and utility fee cap

When the question of adopting the tentative budget came up, Alderman Julie Pierce spoke up for the group that met prior to the meeting, suggesting they go back to budget negotiations.

There will be a special meeting of the Budget Review Committee on Friday, May 6, 2011 at 6:30PM where they are expected to go back to the table and make the necessary cuts to reduce the proposed budget, eliminating the need for a 10% retiree health contribution and rescinding of the 3% tax cap.

The impact of the failure of the City to establish an on time budget pales by comparison to the proposed budget that would have been approved had the Common Council not come to their senses. This battle is far from over, so continue with all your efforts to persuade our Common Council to bring the proposed budget back to one the citizens of Amsterdam can afford.

Categories: Amsterdam, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ice Ice Baby

Yesterday’s storm left us with frozen sidewalks. Last night we received a full gamut of weather including snow, sleet, freezing rain, hail, thunder and lightning. Cleaning up the aftermath meant scraping into the ice covered snow and trying to chip away at the ice underneath. With a 34 degree temperature today, the snowbanks began to melt onto the sidewalks causing some flooding which I am sure will refreeze tonight. Because the city has no actual snow removal, we are left with huge piles of now frozen snow with no where else to put additional accumulations.

The whole legal requirement of requiring residents to clear snow from their sidewalks seems to be an exercise in futility, especially if your neighbors decided not to clear adjacent walks. There is no enforcement and the laws are a little antiquated including the penalties.

City Ordinance – Chapter 206  – Streets and Sidewalks – from 1917

Article VII Snow and Ice Removal (§ 206-23 — § 206-25)

§206-23 Clearing

Every person and corporation owning, occupying or having charge of any lands and premises within the City of Amsterdam shall keep the sidewalks, curbs and gutters fronting on or adjoining said lands and premises free and clear of snow and ice for the width and length of said sidewalks and for the length of said curbs and gutters and for a width of 18 inches from the curbstone line and shall remove the snow and ice therefrom within 12 hours after a storm depositing the same shall have ceased and before the same shall have attained a depth of 12 inches.

§206-24 Sand and Ashes

It is further ordained that where the snow and ice are so frozen or congealed that they cannot be removed without injury to the sidewalk as above provided, the owner, occupant or person in charge of said lands and premises shall, within 12 hours after said freezing and congealing, strew, cause to be strewn and keep strewn the snow and ice on said sidewalk with sand or ashes so as to make and keep the same safe for public traffic thereon.

§206-25 Penalties for Offenses

Any violation of the terms and provisions of this article shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $2 and not more than $5 or by imprisonment of not less than two days or more than five days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Article VIII  Salt and Brine (§ 206-26 — § 206-27) – from 1928

§ 206-26 Usage

No person shall put, place, scatter, throw or pour salt or brine upon the surface of any concrete pavement on any public street of the City of Amsterdam.

§ 206-27 Penalties for Offenses

Any person violating this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding $5 and in default of payment of such fine, may be committed to the Montgomery County Jail for a period not exceeding one day for each dollar of fine.

To sum this up, it in unlawful to use salt on the ice but I can “strew” sand and ash. If I fail to clear my sidewalk I can be fined $5 and sent to jail for 5 days. If I do clear my sidewalk but use salt or brine I can be fined $5 or go to Montgomery County Jail for 5 days. Given their latest mortality rate, I’ll pay the fine!

I can just hear the talk in the on the tier as I do my time in jail. “What are ‘ya in for?” “Not shoveling my sidewalk” I reply to the copper thief.

Does anyone know where I can get a little ash?

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

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