Adirondack Town Of Franklin
Adirondack Town Of Franklin

Town of Franklin Monthly Newsletter

February 2004 - VOLUME III, ISSUE 2

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

EVIDENTLY, YOU THOUGHT I WAS KIDDING
by Lauren LeFebvre

You're tired of hearing from me and I'm tired of talking. Sounds like a perfect marriage doesn't it? I just have two quick reminders about taxes, and I do mean quick.

1. Changing the address on your tax bill is the responsibility of the property owner. Did you expect the phone company to change your address when E911 came through? No. How did they get your updated address? You filled out the little form on the bill. For your taxes, I have a big form for you to fill out. The questions are easy. It's not a test, and the bonus is that this one form will change the address on your School Tax bill, too. Give me a call, I'll be happy get the form to you. You, the Post Office, and I will be glad you did.

2. Franklin County has pulled a fast one . . . . The last day to pay me for your taxes this year will be APRIL 30, not May 31 as it has been for as long as I can remember. This is not my doing. It has been a command from Franklin County. The bills say it on them, so hopefully this news isn't surprising all of you, but I'm willing to bet a few of you are being bowled over right now. What does this mean? It means that the reminder notices (like you need to be reminded - believe me I hate getting those stupid things "reminding" me I owe money, like I forgot!) I used to send out in May will now be sent out in April. It also means that any payments I get POSTMARKED after April 30 will be returned to you. I don't make the laws, guys, but I do have to follow them.

3. OK, OK. I have three quick things to say, and this is probably the most important because it's the most common. Be sure to include the appropriate interest in all payments from now until April 30. Look at the little "payment schedule" on your bill that pertains to payments after January 31. If the check doesn't include that, I have to send it back to you. I don't make the laws - say it with me now - BUT I DO HAVE TO FOLLOW THEM.

I guess I could go on and on but I won't. What a good marriage we have!

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

Onchiota Campers Brave Winter

As the December temperatures dipped lower and lower and everything became buried under a series of snowstorms, things finally came together, and the Aspen Education Group went into the Onchiota wilderness with their first group of campers.

With the completion of three cabins and a multi-purpose building, Aspen's Adirondack Leadership Expedition got off to a successful start as a camp for troubled kids, where adult mentors help Mother Nature teach self-esteem and self-confidence as the kids leave cell phones and videos behind for tents, snow shoeing, and wood heat. The camp is set up on 640 acres of Paul Smiths College property on Roakdale Road in Onchiota.

Aspen Education Group, whose headquarters is in Cerritos, California, runs over 45 wilderness and outdoor education programs in nine western states "to promote academic and personal growth for at-risk teens," according to their web site. After an exhaustive search, the group settled on the Onchiota property as the perfect place to set up their first program in eastern U.S.

The camp director is Dr. Paul Goddard, who replaced Jim Glaeser last August.

The camp got a slow start because of strict New York State regulations, especially with the Board of Health. "It was a lot of work getting through the paperwork," Goddard said, "but I'm just as glad that we meet all the requirements. I learned a lot going through the permit process."

Goddard, who came here from Utah, is enthusiastic about his program and about the Adirondack site. "Most kids come from the east - New York, Albany, Syracuse, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Maryland. We had a kid in December from Florida. You can imagine the look on his face when we put snowshoes on him and said to him, �You can do this'," he said. "By the time he left, this kid could climb anything."

Goddard emphasizes that the program is not designed for kids who are court-ordered or who have any history of violence or extreme aggressiveness. "This is just not the place for them," he said. "We're not a military boot camp, drill sergeant kind of thing." Instead, kids are counseled and learn self-esteem and self-confidence meeting the challenge of the outdoors. "We teach kids respect for nature, and for themselves. These are kids who have started to wander, and the parents have stepped in. We are doing something that these kids desperately need. Most of our kids are very bright. They are neat kids. They are just lost," he said. And when they learn they can be successful, Goddard said you can "see the light come into their eyes."

The program has hired 18 employees - staff who work with the kids, outfitters who make sure they have all the equipment they need, a dietician, and a medical staff. "There also are field folks who train and support staff and do logistics. We also have staff in Saranac Lake to handle things like payroll and basic stuff," he said.

The camp will be run year-round. Goddard hopes to have 12 to 14 kids out at any one time in the winter, and 20 to 30 kids in the summer.

While most of the camping will be done in tents and shelters constructed by the kids, when the winter weather gets below ten degrees the campers use the cabins. The multi-purpose building is used for showers and as an infirmary, and houses the medic on duty.

The original plans for the camp did not include cabins, but they were required by New York State regulations. The buildings were designed by North Woods Engineering of Saranac Lake, and were built by Murnane Building Contractors from Plattsburgh. The buildings are rustic log cabins with wood heat. Goddard anticipates they probably will require two more cabins.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

Building Feasibility Project Given Go Ahead

With board approval, the town Building Feasibility Committee will take a big step forward in planning for updating the town's office and community space. Stating that the committee was unanimous in their choice, Frank Karl recommended and the town board approve hiring the firm of Butler Rowland Mays from Mechanicville, New York, for phase one architectural services for a new or renovated town hall.

In support of the committee's recommendation, Supervisor Mary Ellen Keith said, "If we are going to progress on this, I suggest we take this step."

Butler Rowland Mays was one of four firms invited to be interviewed by the committee to discuss the project and to answer questions about what they could do to help get community input and approval. Richard Butler represented the firm, and impressed the committee with his firm's background in working successfully with municipalities on similar projects. Karl also had done a check of references.

"In talking with them, to a one they couldn't say enough about Butler Rowland Mays' being extremely professional and client friendly," he reported. Karl also reported that the firm has a good reputation for staying within budget.

Representatives from North Woods Engineering and Wareham-DeLair were also interviewed by the committee. Architect Richard Hanpeter also had been invited but was not able to meet with them.

Butler Rowland Mays' fee is $14,450, plus reimbursables. They will provide professional help in defining the best use of the town's resources to meet its needs for a town hall, and will research and document site and building options. They will guide the board in funding and bidding, and also will be available to help involve town residents in planning and approving the project.

Karl asked the board to also approve spending an additional $2,450 for Butler Rowland Mays to prepare a three-dimensional computer model of the final scheme.

The money will come from the town's Capital Project Building fund. Over the years, the fund has built up a balance of over $92,000.

"We've have gotten this far," Keith said. "There's been a lot of discussion. [Committee member] Bob Hammond has put a lot into this, as well as board members Walt Kretser and Janet Ordway," she said, adding that she is eager to see the project get under way.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

WHERE'S THE FIRE?
by Lauren LeFebvre

Boy, that's one phrase you never want to hear a fireman say! You want those brave guys to know where the fire is and to be able to get the heck out of the Fire Station fast. Especially if it's your house they're going to. That's why the Town of Franklin Celebration Committee wants to help the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department buy new windows to look out of and new doors to help them get out to the fire faster.

We've contacted BVFD and they've given us a cost of about $1000. (The windows and doors were their idea, too.) We hope to raise at least that on Saturday, March 13. We'll be holding a Spaghetti Dinner and a Chinese Auction at the Franklin Town Hall, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Now we all know the Fire Department exists and we pray we will never need them. At the same time, those people who they have helped I'm sure are very thankful they do exist. So let's give them a hand. These people volunteer to help other people. What's there not to support, folks?

What can you do to help? Glad you asked, and if you didn't, shame on you! Here's the list of what we need to pull this off. Mind you, WE are five people - YOU contributing anything would be a huge help.

The most difficult thing I see is getting items for the Chinese Auction. If you make crafts of any sort, you will soon become a brand new friend of mine. If you have a business you can be sure you will get a letter from me asking for a donation. If I don't hear from you, you can be sure you'll see one of the Fab Five of us show up in person with a big smile and outstretched hands. I've always said we have a lot of talented people in this town and now would be a great chance to show your stuff.

If you'd like to help out by donating an item or helping at the dinner give me a call, 891-2189 or at home at 891-2189.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

Questions on TOF News Coverage

In January the Town Board voted to switch from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise to the Plattsburgh Press Republican as the town's newspaper. Just exactly what does that mean, asked resident John Martino, at the February board meeting.

"No one delivers the Press Republican out our way, so it's difficult to get that paper," he told the board.

Town Clerk Lauren LeFebvre assured Martino that the designation of "town paper" means that the Press Republican will be used for paid legal ads, and that announcements of events would continue to go out to all papers, including the Enterprise.

Martino said he also would like to see the town newsletter back on the web site.

"It is back now," LeFebvre replied. "The minutes also will be kept up to date." In January the board authorized paying Rainbow Graphics to keep the web site up to date. It had been handled by a volunteer and had not been kept current.

The Enterprise did send reporter Rich Rosentreter to cover the February meeting. Rosentreter promised to pay more attention to Town of Franklin events, but then added that he often has conflicts other meetings and events, including the Town of Franklin scheduled monthly board meetings.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

Youth Group To Begin Meeting

The Vermontville Youth Group will begin their bi-weekly programs on Friday, March 5. They are inviting kids in grades four through nine to come by every other Friday to the Franklin Town Hall from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. for games, crafts, music, and socializing.

Parents are asked to sign their children in and out. Parents are also invited to stop in.

Ellen Beberman, Helena Hough, and Lorrie Donaldson, are clear in their purpose for the Friday events. According to their brochure, "Our mission is to provide a safe place for kids in our community to come and socialize with other area youth, participate in activities and games and have fun under adult supervision."

Many town residents have fond memories of town youth get-togethers when they were growing up. The Vermontville Youth Group could use help and support to make this a successful program for today's youngsters to build friendships and memories.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

Highway Department News

The town highway superintendent and the town board's highway committee agreed at the February regular board meeting that it's time to take a look at replacing some out-dated and worn out vehicles and equipment.

Superintendent Donald Vorrath presented to the board a memo summarizing his meeting with the highway committee asking for a resolution to purchase a sander for the 1998 International and for the replacement of the Ford 9000 dump truck.

Referring to the sander, Vorrath has recommended the purchase of a new 14-foot stainless steel sander. "The abrasive and corrosive action of salt and sand has taken its toll," he said, adding that the present sander has required constant welding repairs. "Stainless steel will last longer and is worth the additional cost over regular steel." He estimates the cost will be between $9,500 and $9,900.

The 1995 Ford, according to Vorrath, also is due for retirement. "The vehicle has 100,000 miles and repair costs are increasing each year," he said. He recommended replacing the single axle with a tandem.

Highway committee members agreed that it's time to consider the purchases. "We had an opportunity to look over the record of repairs on these pieces of equipment," said committee member Walt Kretser. "Over the past two years a lot of money has gone into repairs."

Looking at the budget, committee member Gene Goff noted that the highway budget looks good. "It's time to move forward," he said. "We'll make the last payment on the 2000 tandem next year. The 2002 International will be paid for at the end of this year."

Supervisor Mary Ellen Keith added, "If we are going to keep our equipment up, there is no sense to sit on this," especially since the highway capital project fund now has over $60,000.

The new truck will come on the 2005 budget. The 1995 truck will be declared salvage and go on the Internet for bid.

Crew Shortage

Superintendent Vorrath was questioned by Gene Goff whether there are one or two highway employees out in plow vehicles. The Press Republican had recently done an article on the subject.

"It depends on the day, it depends on who's in," Vorrath answered. "I am down three men at this point." The highway crew is down three men due to a medical leave, workmen's comp and military leave. "It is becoming a problem."

Referring to the truck that had to be pulled out of a ditch earlier in the week, Vorrath said a wing man might have helped to avoid the accident. "Ideally, you should have two men in the truck."

Summer Road Work

Franklin County sent paperwork that needs to be signed to request county highway department assistance for town road resurfacing work this summer. Vorrath told the board that he is not planning to use the county this summer, but that the paperwork should be signed anyway in case something comes up.

Vorrath also asked the board about the 284 Agreement paperwork that had been tabled at the January meeting, noting that the paperwork was due the first week of January. The agreement documents approval of highway department spending on highway improvement projects. According to Kretser, the board had decided not to use the standard 284 form and is still working on a new form.

The "284" is the document that had caused so much contention between the highway department and the highway committee in 2003.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

News From Schools

Anyone who didn't crawl back down into the groundhog hole with Punxsutawney Phil to on February 2 to wait out winter can't have missed that Saranac Lake celebrated its 2004 Winter Carnival February 6 through February 15.

Congratulations to Town of Franklin residents selected to serve as three of the twelve high school students to reign over the celebrations as part of the Royal Court.

The three were Krista Snizek, daughter of Ed and Suzanne Snizek of Sink Hole Road, Amber Carpenter, daughter of Marc and Ruth Stankus of Fletcher Farm Road, and Sara Posdzich, daughter of Craig and Tracy Posdzich of Fletcher Farm Road.

"Music Man" in March

On March 26, 27, and 28, the high school will present "The Music Man". According to the musical director, Jacqueline Kalinowski, the play is "a wonderfully upbeat show about life in Iowa and small town people in general."

Several Town of Franklin students will be in the cast. They are Krista Snizek, Caroline Couture, Maryssa Romeo, Amber Carpenter, Krista Tuthill, and Aja Roddy.

The play will be at the high school auditorium on March 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m., and on March 28 at 1:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the high school or through the students.

Town of Franklin Middle School Students Honored

Congratulations to Town of Franklin Saranac Lake Middle School students who were nominated by their teachers as February Students of the Month. They are: Danielle Eble, Brittany Gardner, Zach Martin, and Dan Romeyn.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

A Tax Quiz

Q. Why does Town Tax Assessor Doug Tichenor consider March 1 to be one of the most important dates on the assessment calendar?

A. March 1 is Status Day. According to Tichenor, your assessment will be based on the condition and ownership of your property up to and including that day. In other words, if your house is destroyed on March 15, it will be included on your taxes for the year because it was intact on March 1. If it burns down on February 28, it will be taken off. A building still under construction as of March 1 will be considered incomplete and will be assessed accordingly.

The same goes for ownership. Tax Collector Lauren LeFebvre says that she has received partial payments for property sold after the March 1 date by ex-property owners who tell her she needs to collect the rest from the new owner. LeFebvre says whoever owned the property as of March 1 owes all the taxes, and it is up to the ex-property owner to collect from the new owner.

Q. Just how much of your property tax is actually "town tax"?

A. Your property taxes pay town, county and school taxes. Of that, the town's taxes are just over a third of the total property taxes. The school tax bill is easy - it comes separately. But if you look carefully, your other tax bill is your "Franklin County and Town of Franklin Tax Bill". The county general tax levy is the first line. The town levy is broken down into general, highway and fire protection.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

Veterans Exemption Decision Postponed

Updating the Town of Franklin's property tax exemption for veterans again was brought up at a town board meeting, and again the board did not make a decision.

Increasing the cap on the town's exemption is possible because the state passed a new alternate exemption. Of the town's 73 veterans who have an exemption, 11 are covered under the original 458 exemption. The new 458-a exemption is worth more for veterans since the town went to 100% value on assessments. The town's current exemption has not been updated since 1955.

Assessor Doug Tichenor was asked how an increase in the exemption would affect the town. "Of the three tax entities, the town is miniscule compared to county and school," he said. "The biggest impact would be on the county taxes."

According to Frank Karl, the 73 exempt properties represent approximately $7,300 in taxes. The exemption is available to widows and widowers as well as veterans themselves.

Tichenor added that with the Gulf Wars there might be an increase in the number of veterans in the town. "For every exemption, someone has to pick up the slack," he said.

The board is concerned what the impact of increasing the veterans exemption would have on the rest of the taxpayers. Gene Goff asked that the board put off a decision. "I would like to see some figures before we decide," he said.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

Board Wrestles with Domtar Tax Case

Domtar, one of the large timber companies in the Town of Franklin, has challenged the town's $6.4 million assessment on their timberlands in the town. In addition to lowering the assessment, they are looking for a refund from the town, Franklin County, and the Saranac Lake Central School District for taxes paid in past years.

Daniel Vincelette of Tabner, Ryan and Keniry, LLP, in Albany, who has been hired to represent the town in the matter, has been negotiating with Domtar.

The Domtar property is currently covered under a 480 forest exemption. According to town assessor Doug Tichenor, that exemption has long ago been replaced by a new 480-a exemption. Domtar so far has not applied for the new exemption.

"Under the 480, whenever they cut, the assessor is required to calculate the stumpage value, and they have to pay the town a percentage based on what they cut," Tichenor said. In reality, no one really knows where the exempt forests actually are. They pay as they cut, giving the town 6% of the mill receipts - one-third of which the town is required to turn over to the school district.

"The 480 came out of the dark ages. The sun set on the law in 1974 when 480-a came into being," Tichenor said. "Timber companies don't like the new exemption, because the state gets involved." The 480-a exemption is designed to keep forestland in forest production. It requires timber companies to submit a management plan done by a forester to the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the DEC then monitors the cuttings. The 480-a would give Domtar a lower taxable rate, however.

Vincelette met with the board in executive session. "If we lower the assessment to what they want as a compromise, they still can then go with the 480-a in the future."

At stake in the assessment dispute is $255,000 in refunds, plus an additional $40,000 in interest. "The town's percentage isn't as much as the county or school," according to Tichenor. "They have the most to lose depending on the town's decision." The town's refund would be $65,000, plus $10,000 in interest.

Vincelette and the board met in executive session to discuss Domtar's compromise offer and what the affect would be on the town.

"They don't care about the Town of Franklin," Vincelette said of Domtar. "For them this is a business decision."

It will be up to the town board and Vincelette to be sure that the town taxpayers' best interests are met with any final decisions.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

Town of Franklin Scholarship Committee

Our committee is interested in awarding scholarship money for post-high school education, including vocational/technical programs as well as college work, to local students. The basic requirements are as follows:

    1. You must be a resident of the Town of Franklin.
    2. You must have successfully completed at least one term (12 credits) of your educational program as a full time or part time student with at least a "B" average (or equivalent).
    3. You must currently be a student and not be on a full scholarship from any other source.

With these requirements in mind, please fill in the application and return this paper and attachments to "Application for Scholarship" at the address noted above by April 1, 2004.

To download the Scholarship Application, please click here. To view it, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your system. If you don't already have it, you may download a free copy by clicking here.

Franklin, TOWN OF FRANKLIN

Town Calendar

Monday, March 1 Celebration Committee meeting, Keith's house, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, March 5 - Youth Group, Town Hall, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Monday, March 8 - Monthly Town Board Meeting, 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 9 - Seniors' 55+ Meeting, 12:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 13 - Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser for the Bloomingdale Fire Department, Franklin Town Hall, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 23 - Seniors' 55+ Meeting, 12:30 p.m.

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Town of Franklin
P.O. Box 209, Route 3, Vermontville, NY 12989  ·  Tel: 518-891-2189  ·  Fax: 518-891-6389  ·  info@townoffranklin.com
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