ELLENVILLE – Village officials will be requesting an appearance by Jonathan Drapkin of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, the non-for-profit policy firm overseeing the county's application for a share of the state's $20 million funding prize, or a county representative who can offer insight into the application's status as it's viewed against five other counties and/or municipalities. They're also looking for a more precise financial breakdown of consolidation money coming to the village should the county win. The meeting is tentatively set for 6 p.m. on July 24 at village hall, should either party agree.
"I think we were all somewhat surprised at the breakdown of the money out of the $20 million," said mayor Jeff Kaplan, during the village's July 10 trustees meeting. Initially, when the opportunity to apply for a $20 million Consolidation and Efficiency Grant was announced and Ulster won an initial $50,000 for application purposes, many felt it had been suggested that the dissolution of the village into the town of Wawarsing would receive a bulk of the county's funds, should they win. Now, it appears that the pot for Ellenville could be significantly lower.
"We're going to have to find out what's going on," Kaplan said, surmising that the county was required to modify their original application to show a significant savings. "They don't want to spend $15 million to save $15 million; that would be zero. They want to spend $15 million and save $40 million."
The mayor further noted that the savings of dissolution alone might not have been tempting enough to cinch the next win, $100,000 offered to the winner of the second round to be utilized to further develop plans for the greater grant possibility.
Kaplan said a recent conversation he's had with county executive Mike Hein resulted in a promise to continue looking into the role the village police department would play should the dissolution go through. There wouldn't be enough of a savings, according to Hein, to simply incorporate the village department into a town-wide force; instead, the goal of the county might be (according to Kaplan) to shift village policing to the county's sheriff's department.
"The bottom line is that we can't look at this with an, 'I'm not going to support that' view, because the bottom line is that people are not buying property in Ellenville because of our taxes," Kaplan said, noting that the grant is to support a means to make it at least no more expensive to live in the village than the town.
When the application was submitted, Ellenville stood to receive $7 million while other funds would be filtered into a county-wide bus system, a 911 fire training center and other proposed projects. But later accountings had those other projects gaining more funds, and the village share lowered to about $3.5 million.
One revelation the county had, village manager Joseph Stoeckeler said, was based on a scoring rubric whereby whatever savings the winning applicant shows, the state will give five times that amount for each of five consecutive years.
In other village news, it was noted that a July 12 meeting with members of the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance will focus on the reallocation of Ellenville Million funds, and proposed renovations of the tennis and basketball courts at Berme Rd. Park must be preceded by work to alleviate drainage runoff.