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News from Town Hall

Dear Hillsdale,

Happy New Year!

As the new year begins, I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on our accomplishments over the past year. All of the initiatives listed below have been discussed at Town Board meetings and in this newsletter over the course of the past year.

We have:

  • Prepared and approved a forward-looking budget for 2023,
  • Introduced new and more responsive procedures for voucher approval and bill paying,
  • Commissioned a Five-Year Building Condition Survey for three Town owned facilities, with an early focus on needed repairs to Town Hall,
  • Negotiated and approved a new three-year contract with Teamster Local 294 for our Highway employees,
  • Adopted eCODE360 that codifies our Town laws,
  • Prepared and adopted an engineering plan for a Hamlet sidewalk project, for which funding will be sought in 2023,
  • Prepared and submitted a major funding proposal for Hamlet Park renovations,
  • Conducted and approved a comprehensive professional review of Sewer District finances that determined the debt amount to the Town. Solutions to the debt obligation will be sought in the new year,
  • Installed grant funded solar panels at the Highway garage that will produce savings to the Town,
  • Installed 58 grant funded LED street lights that will also produce savings to the Town,
  • Prepared and adopted an updated and more comprehensive Employee Handbook,
  • Explored all available options regarding the Whippoorwill Road intersection with engineers, Department of Transportation and neighbors, although solutions have not yet emerged,
  • Adopted several new Town Laws, including NRI and procedures for videoconferencing. The video equipment is on order and will arrive in early 2023,
  • Hosted numerous celebratory events including the Antique Car Show, Kidsdale, and Pumpkin Festival,
  • Continued efforts in affordable and workforce housing through the Hillsdale Housing Committee and the Roe Jan Housing Task Force,
  • Effectively deployed the two radar speed calming signs on Town roads,
  • Held numerous events for our seniors, including a monthly Coffee Hour, an Aging in Place Workshop and a service day to assist seniors in preparing for the winter season,
  • Re-engaged the State in Hillsdale’s stewardship of Roe Jan Park, held a successful summer camp and introduced an organic garden in the park,
  • Scoped out a BridgeNY funding proposal for replacement of the West End Road bridge,
  • And many other projects and initiatives too numerous to cite here in addition to the ongoing work of local government.

These accomplishments would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of the Town Board, our committees and staff, and I thank them for their many contributions to the Town we love and call home.

As we celebrate the arrival of 2023, I am inspired by the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, who said: “With the new day comes strength and new thought.”

My family joins me in wishing you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Chris Kersten

Town Supervisor


Organizational Meeting and

January Town Board Meeting

The town's annual Organizational Meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 4 at 4 PM at Town Hall. At the meeting, the town board will make or reaffirm official appointments and designations for the year 2023. The salary schedule will be approved, as will authorizations, policies, and procedures regarding the Highway Department, meeting times, purchasing, budgeting, and other town business. Planning Board and building permit fees will be approved as will the missions and members of town boards and committees.

The January Town Board meeting will be on Tuesday, January 10. The meeting will be held in person at Town Hall at 7 PM.

Documents that will be referred to at the town board meeting will be posted on the Agendas & Minutes page of the town website a few days before the meeting. Minutes of previous Town Board meetings are posted on the Town Board page. 

Town Website
Agendas & Minutes
Town Board

COVID Update

As of December 30, in Columbia County there were 53 active COVID cases and 14 hospitalized county residents, two of them in the ICU. There have been 15,380 cases and 166 deaths.

The Columbia County Department of Health is offering Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters at their Thursday afternoon vaccine clinics. For information link to the DOH web site (link below) and go to the Calendar or to the Facebook page.

According to the CDC COVID-19 Community Level tool, Columbia County's level has increased to "medium". Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by the number of hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

CDC COVID-19 Community Levels
Columbia County Dept. of Health

County Likely to "Abandon"

Closed Bridge on Tribrook Road

According to Ray Jurkowski, Commissioner of the Columbia County Department of Public Works, the county-owned bridge over the Roe Jan Kill on Tribrook Road in Hillsdale, is likely to be "abandoned" by the county as the bridge had very limited use and the detour resulting from closing the bridge is only about 2.5 miles. Jurkowski, who spoke at the beginning of the December Town Board meeting, said that the latest study showed fewer than 50 trips a day across the bridge. Given the limited funds available for repairing or replacing county bridges, DPW has decided the potential expense of $750,000 to $1.5 million is not justified.

If a bridge is "abandoned" it will be removed. The county will work with the town to create turnaround space where the road will dead end for town highway department and other vehicles.

The county is also concerned that a large town-owned culvert on Tribrook, closer to Route 22, may need repair. If that culvert needs to be replaced by the town, the work would take about three weeks. Since there are seven houses on Tribrook between the culvert and the bridge, the county would put a county-owned temporary bridge in place of the now closed bridge to give residents access to their homes while the work on the culvert is being completed.

The town will have an engineer inspect the culvert and determine if a replacement is warranted and will consider options for grant funding for the culvert. Bridge NY Culvert Program applications are due annually in January so it is likely that application could not be made till January 2024.

March 1 is Deadline for

2023 Property Tax Exemptions and Renewals

If you are renewing any property tax exemptions or applying for a new one you must apply by March 1.


Basic STAR

STAR is the New York State School Tax Relief program that provides an exemption from school property taxes for owner-occupied, primary residences. All new applicants must apply through the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. To register, call 518 457-2036 or go to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance website. (Link below.)


Enhanced STAR

If you are already a recipient of the Enhanced STAR, for those 65 and older with qualifying income, you do not have to file a renewal application so long as New York State Taxation and Finance can continue to verify your income eligibility. If you have the Basic STAR, once you turn 65 you may want to check with the office of the town assessor as to your eligibility to receive the Enhanced STAR.


Low Income Senior

This exemption must be renewed annually. Renewal notices were mailed the end of December. To qualify you must be 65 years of age or older and reside in your own home but the income limit is much stricter than for Enhanced Star. For this exemption, your 2021 gross income from all sources, including Social Security, pensions, interest, etc. must be below $37,400. 

Low Income Disability

This exemption must be renewed annually. Requirements are the same as the Low Income Senior except that you need not be 65; however, you must have a qualifying disability. An award letter from Social Security certifying eligibility for either SSDI or SSI or the Railroad Retirement Board certifying Railroad Retirement Disability benefits or the US Department of Veterans Affairs certifying a Veterans Disability pension or a certificate from the state commission for the blind and visually handicapped stating the property owner is legally blind, must be submitted.

Alternative Veteran's Exemption

New York State (NYS) Real Property Tax Law section 458-a provides a limited exemption from real property taxes for real property owned by persons who rendered military service to the United States, provided the property meets the requirements set forth in the law. NYS Real Property Tax Law provides an exemption of taxation for qualified residential real property owned by veterans of defined periods of war, veterans who received expeditionary medals, or certain members of their family based on a percentage of assessed value.

All other exemptions, such as forest or agriculture, whether new or renewed, must also be applied for prior to March 1. 

If you have any questions on any exemptions, contact Pam Cook, Town Assessor at hillsdaleassessor@fairpoint.net or 518 325-5073 ext 8.

NYS Department of Taxation & Finance

The Historians Review Their Own History

In preparing for a talk they gave at the Safe At Home Committee's Coffee Hour, the Hillsdale Historians, Chris Atkins and Lauren Letellier, took a look back at some of their own history -- five years of blog posts. Their posts have been viewed over 41,000 times! And they have been viewed in 25 countries! (Anyone have any idea who in Hong Kong may have viewed a post by the Historians 275 times???)

The main topic is always Hillsdale but if you read them you are sure to learn lots about related topics as well. Check out this month's post, read some of their t0p ten most viewed posts and you'll learn lots more Hillsdale history.

Hillsdale Historians Blog

Broadband Mapping Published, Accepting Challenges

Hillsdale Broadband Committee to Host Zoom re Challenges

Hillsdale’s Broadband Committee has determined that Hillsdale still has over 200 addresses without proper broadband service. The county, the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC), and the FCC are all aware of this information. The CEDC (Columbia Economic Development Commission) continues to advocate on Hillsdale’s behalf to ensure that all addresses in Hillsdale that the committee has identified are included in any upgrade program. However, the federal broadband programs and their parameters are yet to be determined. 


“The committee insists that having at least one high-speed wired broadband provider at each address in Hillsdale is an economic and social imperative,” says committee chair Andy Dash, “so we continue to advocate at all levels on behalf of Hillsdale.”


If you’re curious about the status at your location, you can check two sets of mapping data currently published (see below) and accepting challenge submissions or feedback.


The Broadband Committee will hold a zoom workshop on Wednesday, January 4th at 6pm to walk through the maps and challenge processes. Anyone who wants to better understand the maps and broadband coverage in the Hillsdale area is welcome to attend.


Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84122743386?pwd=OVpiUEJzbVZLNnd4ck9CQllCK3M0UT09



The committee finds the FCC data to be the most accurate at this point. However, it will list your address as fully served if you can receive over 25mbps from either a wired or wireless provider. Wireless, while a good option for many, is still prohibitively expensive or not feasible for wooded properties. A wired option is the preferred base technology as it’s more feasible for some, secure, and dependable.


The deadline for challenging your FCC results is January 13, 2023.


How to check your address on the FCC National Broadband Map:


Visit: Broadbandmap.fcc.gov

Enter your address.

You can challenge the address location or the available service by provider.

The gear icon can filter by type of service. If you choose “All Wired” you’ll see that many locations become “unserved” once wireless is removed from the results.


For additional help, view this step-by-step video by clicking HERE.



This data is compiled by the NYS Public Service Commission. The new ConnectALL office (replacing the former Broadband Program Office) is the agency overseeing any broadband infrastructure upgrades or subsidies. ConnectALL will use this data to design the grant programs. However, a review by the committee has found there is an extreme overstatement of the Charter/Spectrum fiber coverage in our town which shows most of the town as fully served. The committee has raised this with the CEDC, the PSC, and ConnectALL.


How to check your address on the NYS PSC Broadband Map:

Go to mapmybroadband.dps.ny.gov/ and enter your address to review your service. Click “Provide Feedback” to challenge any of the results.


“We thank all Hillsdale residents for their patience and perseverance,” says Dash. “This seems like an endless struggle, but we are hopeful that we see the light at the end of the tunnel.”


If you have questions, concerns or need help checking or challenging your broadband service results, please contact todwohlfarth@icloud.com

Safe at Home Announces Coffee Hour Topics

The monthly Coffee Hours sponsored by Hillsdale’s Safe at Home Committee will be held again this year at the Hillsdale House, on the last Tuesday of the month from 10 to 11:30 AM. Seniors are invited to come and enjoy conversation and camaraderie along with a cup of coffee. In addition, at each Coffee Hour there is a speaker on a relevant and interesting topic.

Since winter is the time of inclement weather, at the January Coffee Hour on the 31st, the topic will be planning for emergencies, the risks and responses that seniors need to be aware of, and how to undertake preparations. John Mabb and Emily Haigh, Columbia County Department of Health (DOH) educators, will talk about the role of the DOH and what seniors should be thinking about and planning for. There will also be information on the Special Needs Registry that the DOH maintains. Any questions? Call Natalie: 518 265 2113.

In February, Dr Robin Tassinari, of Spencertown and Director of the Capital District Psychiatric Center, will talk about "general blues" - -depression and anxiety -- and what may be typical of our aging process.

Of Note.....

Property tax bills for 2023 will be available online Tuesday, January 3. For the month of January, Town Tax Collector Joe Hansleman, Jr. will be at Town Hall on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 9 AM to noon. Payments are due by January 31.

Property Tax Bills


2022 was a record year for marriage licenses issued in Hillsdale. Town Clerk Kathi Doolan reports that 22 licenses were issued in 2022, twice as many as in 2021 and more than any year since at least 2010.


2023 Recycling Permits for use at the county transfer stations are available through the Town Clerk’s office. The cost is $50 for the year, or $35 for Seniors (over 65), payable by cash or check.  Each resident will receive two stickers marked with the same number. The county will not replace stickers unless residents physically bring in the damaged stickers.


A resolution opposing the siting of the Shepherd’s Run Solar Project within the Taghkanic Creek watershed was approved by the board at the December meeting.

Alternates and Secretary Sought for Planning Board

The Hillsdale Planning Board is seeking alternate members to attend meetings. The charter of the Planning Board is to review and guide proposed development projects so that they are in compliance with the regulations set forth in the Hillsdale Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance. The principal goals of the Comprehensive Plan are to maintain the rural character of Hillsdale and protect the town's environment.

The Planning Board meets on the second Monday of every month at 7 PM. This is a non-remunerative position. If interested, please send a letter of intent and a resume to Elizabeth Sheer, Planning Board secretary, at hillsdalepb@gmail.com.

The Planning Board is also seeking a secretary. This position entails about 10-15 hours per month, and includes filing, processing incoming requests, and taking and writing-up minutes of board meetings. This is a paid position. If interested, email the Planning Board Chair, Barbara Olsen Pascale, at hillsdalepb@gmail.com.


Two Book Clubs and a Discussion Group

 at the Roe Jan Library

In January the Roeliff Jansen Community Library is restarting the cookbook club and launching a non-fiction book club and a discussion group.

The Cookbook Club will meet from 2 to 3:30 PM on Saturday, January 21. At this meeting, participants will review a number of cookbook choices from the Library’s collection. After discussion, members will choose a cookbook and then choose a recipe to prepare for the February meeting. Members will bring the dish to the next meeting where the group will discuss the book and share in a community meal. This monthly gathering is organized by Library Associate Fran Colombo.

Book Marks is an effort to encourage new nonfiction readers and expand the horizons of seasoned ones, Every third Thursday beginning January 19, Book Marks will meet at the library from 1 to 2 PM for a lively discussion of a nonfiction title. This new book club will be led by Robin Gottlieb, Circulation Librarian.

Selected books will be kept to between 250-350 pages in length, and future titles will be chosen with member input, but the first read is Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark, MIT Professor of Physics.

To combat the stress and isolation of the last few years, the library is encouraging people to come socialize and learn over a cup of tea or coffee. The fourth Thursday of each month at 2:30 PM participants can hear a talk and discuss fun and informative topics or learn a new activity. At the January 26 meeting, Noel Fair, a tax advisor and preparer will give a talk entitled "Tax Time Is Just Around the Corner."

Other Adult programs at the Roe Jan Community Library in January include

  • Roe Jan Writers Series: Maryann Barto, author of "A Story From a Basket Maker's Daughter"
  • Genealogy Basics: How to start, what to look for, where to search
  • Webinar: Figure Skating in the Gilded Age
  • Tech Labs on Zoom: Photo Sharing & Archive Management
  • Free English-language tutoring 6 - 7:30 PM on Thursdays, by appointment. This tutoring program is intended primarily for adults.
  • Strength & Balance Class on Zoom

There will be Homework Help every Thursday from 5 to 7 PM, with English and Spanish tutoring available for grades K-12. 

Plus, Lego Thursdays, Home School Wednesdays, Storytime with Tia on Saturdays, and Circle Time with Tia on Wednesdays.

The library is located at 9091 Rt. 22.


This winter the Friends of the Roe Jan Library Book Shop will be open the first Saturday of the month. They are open January 7 from 10 AM to 2 PM. Thousands of gently used books, CD’s and DVD’s will be for sale. Masks are required. To donate books, email Celia Kahn at caskahn@gmail.com.

Adult Programs at the RJCL
Kid's Programs at the RJCL

Upcoming Town Meetings

The Zoning Board will meet on Tuesday January 3 at 7:30 PM.

There are four applications for special permits being considered, all for short term rental:

Sara Levine at 82 SW Colony Road

Katina Leodas at 161 Stone Ledge Road

Lisa Berman at 2745 Route 23

Seth Grosshandler at 292 White Hill Lane

The Planning Board will meet on Monday, January 9 at 7 PM. (in person only). Public hearing for Site Plan Review application by Tucker McNamee on Lockwood Road.

Site Plan Review application by Nigel Shamash at 2605 State Route 23, to build a 45' X 40' extension on an existing dwelling for multi-family use, and redesign of parking.

Open Space Committee

Time: Thursday, January 12, 7 PM


Passcode: 167463

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 821 9992 2484

Safe at Home Committee

Time: Monday, January 16, 10 AM

Home of Beth Gordon, 323 Wolf Hill Road

Economic Development Committee

Time: Wednesday, January 25, 11 AM


Passcode: 442473

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID:  879 5657 1880

Conservation Advisory Council

Time: Thursday, January 26, 7 PM


Passcode: 209917

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 856 3449 3163

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Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley


2609 State Route 23/Main Street
Hillsdale NY 12529
518 325-5073