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News From Town Hall

Dear Hillsdale,

Greetings and welcome to the first newsletter of the new year! I am honored to be Hillsdale’s new Town Supervisor and look forward to working with the rest of the Town Board to make sure Hillsdale continues to be a great place to live, work, and enjoy. 

I would like to express my gratitude to my predecessor, Chris Kersten, for his steady and diligent leadership over the past three years and his graciousness and willingness to ensure a smooth transition. 

Mike Dvorchak (left) was sworn in as Hillsdale's Town Supervisor today by Congressman Pat Ryan (right) at the Columbia County Courthouse. Mike's husband, Tim Stookesberry, held the bible.

I would also like to thank Steve Tiger and Robina Ward for their service on the Town Board and for helping, along with the rest of the Board, to guide the Town to the strong position we are in today. I’m delighted that Robina will continue to serve Hillsdale as our newly elected Town Clerk, and I also look forward to working with continuing Town Board members Tom Carty and Joanna Virello as well as newly elected members Jamie Carano Nordenström and Irwin Feld in the months and years ahead. 

We will have our first Town Board organizational meeting on January 4 at 4 PM at Town Hall, and our regular monthly meeting will follow on January 9. All Town Board meetings are open to the public, and I encourage you to attend either in person or via Zoom. One of my immediate goals as your new Supervisor is to provide opportunities for more people to get involved with the town, so if that appeals to you, I hope you’ll get in touch! We will have more information in next month’s newsletter on ways to get involved.

This newsletter would not be possible without the incomparable Meg Wormley, who does a terrific job keeping us all informed of various town events. There’s a lot of work that goes into creating a monthly newsletter, so I’m happy she’s agreed to continue this task for us moving forward.

While we are in a good position, there are challenges and tasks ahead that will require focus, determination, and community input. I look forward to working with the community to keep Hillsdale moving forward.  


Mike Dvorchak

Town Supervisor

[email protected]

January Town Board Meetings

The Town Board's Annual Organizational Meeting will be held on Thursday, January 4 at 4 PM. At the meeting the Town Board will make or reaffirm official appointments and designations for the year 2024. 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 meeting will be held in person at Town Hall and will be available on Zoom.


Dial in: 646 931-3860 Meeting ID: 836 0566 4295

The January Town Board meeting will be on Tuesday, January 9. The meeting will be held in person at Town Hall at 7 PM and will be available on Zoom. People participating via Zoom will be able to make comments during the designated Public Comment times at the beginning and end of the meeting.


Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID:  862 1516 1343

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 and the Agendas & Minutes page. 

Town Website
Agendas & Minutes
Town Board

Town Hall Repairs Continue, Front Door Now Open

The Town Hall front door is open again as a new concrete platform is in place under the portico and the columns have been reinstalled with new bases. When work was being done on the columns it was discovered that the platform needed to be replaced. At its December meeting the Town Board approved $8,000 to cover the cost of the platform.

Also complete are the slate roof repair, with installation of snow guards, and new copper gutters and leaders. All work will be inspected by an engineer.

Work on the inside of the building, including mold mitigation will start soon.

Tax Bills Available Online

Property tax bills for 2024 are now available online and the bills are in the mail. 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.

2024 Tax Bills

New Year, New Officials, New Town Email Addresses,

No Change in Town Clerk Hours for Now

For 2024 Hillsdale has a new supervisor, Mike Dvorchak; two new town board members, Jamie Carano Nordenström and Irwin Feld; a new town clerk, Robina Ward: and a new town justice, Robert Werner. All have been sworn in or will be shortly.

As planned last summer, all email addresses for town officials and employees are being upgraded to a secure Microsoft government account. All addresses will use the domain name @hillsdaleny.com.

The following addresses are now active:

Supervisor: [email protected]

Town Clerk: [email protected]

Highway Superintendent: [email protected]

Assessor: [email protected]

Zoning Board: [email protected]

Building Inspector: [email protected]

Additional addresses will be activated shortly. Check the town website for additional information.

Email addresses that were on Fairpoint or Gmail will automatically be forwarded to the new hillsdaleny addresses. By law, all old emails must be saved.

For now, the town clerk's hours will remain as they have been, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 10 AM to 2 PM and by appointment. Because the new clerk has to attend training, the office may have to be closed some days this month and next. Information re closings will be posted on the town web site and outside Town Hall.

Board Adopts Modified Emergency Response Plan

After a well-attended public hearing on the subject prior to the December Town Board Meeting, the Town Board adopted an Emergency Response Plan for the town. The purpose of the plan is to establish proper protocols to be followed in case of natural and other emergencies in order to protect life and property. The plan will be subject to regular review and amendment.

The plan had been modified based on earlier input from the public but attendees at the hearing raised additional concerns, asking for more modifications of the plan. Of particular concern was the phrase “police situation” in regard to a resident refusing to evacuate when requested to during an emergency. Town attorney Matt Cabral agreed that the phrase could be deleted from the document and pointed out that the plans does specify that a resident can refuse to evacuate if they choose. 

Speakers also asked that a paragraph that they previously submitted to the town regarding individual rights be included in the plan. They did not find it appropriate that the town supervisor would have sole authority to declare an emergency and were concerned that such a declaration could infringe on individual rights. Cabral recommended that the paragraph not be included as it required a process that would take too long in an emergency situation and because the plan includes the provision "All emergency declarations and related orders issued by the Supervisor may be rescinded by majority vote of the Town Board."

The adopted plan does not include the “police situation” phrase. 

Kersten Honored as Term Ends

The December Town Board meeting was the final one of Chris Kersten's term as Town Supervisor. Kersten took office in November 2020. In his supervisor's report at the meeting he thanked the citizens of Hillsdale for allowing him to serve them, the board, as well as town attorney Matt Cabral, Interim Town Clerk Elizabeth Sheer, the highway department and those who work at town hall.

A number of town residents attended the December meeting as a way of honoring Kersten and thanking him for his service to the town. Two residents spoke, praising the intelligence and integrity with which he handled many challenges. Supervisor-elect Mike Dovorchak thanked Kersten for his kind help during the transition, saying he was intimidated but hoped to continue the great work.

At the final 2023 County Board of Supervisors, Kersten was honored for his service to the county and received a plaque from Matt Murrell, chair of the Board of Supervisors.

March 1 is Deadline for

2024 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.

NYS Dept. of Taxation & Finance

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 assessor’s office as to your eligibility to receive the Enhanced STAR.

Low Income Senior Exemption: Use form RP-467 (new applicants) or RP-467-Rnw (for renewals)

This provides for an exemption in the amount of between 5% and 50% depending on income. The current income Limit for the Town, County and School is between $34,000 for a 50% exemption and $42,399 for a 5% exemption. This is an increase from last year’s limit, so you may qualify this year, even if you did not last year. Income includes all Social Security as well as all owners and spouse income. You MUST include a copy of your prior year Federal Tax Return (2022). If you do not file a return you MUST fill out an Income Worksheet.

This exemption must be renewed annually. Renewal notices were mailed in December. To qualify you must be 65 years of age or older and reside in your own home.  

RP-467 Rnw
Income Worksheet

Low Income Disability Exemption: Use form RP-459-c (new applicants) or RP-459-c-Rnw (renewals)

This provides for an exemption in the amount of between 5% and 50% depending on Income. The current Income Limit for the Town, County and School is between $34,000 for a 50% exemption and $42,399 for a 5% exemption. This is an increase from last year’s limit, so you may qualify this year, even if you did not last year. You MUST include a copy of your prior year Federal Tax Return (2022). If you do not file a return you MUST fill out an Income Worksheet.

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.

RP 459-c-Rnw

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 [email protected] or 518 325-5073 ext. 8.

Key Dates:

March 1 (Taxable Status Date) – deadline for all exemptions to be filed with the Assessor. Property improvements and condition, as of this date, will be the basis for the coming assessment cycle.

May 1 (Tentative Assessment Roll) is filed containing all values and exemptions for the tax year. Change of assessment notices are mailed this week.

July 1 (Final Assessment Roll) filed. Town, County and School taxes are based on this roll’s information.

Of Note.....

In a vote at the December Town Board meeting the board approved engaging accountant Bob Patterson to provide accounting and bookkeeping services for the town in 2024, as he did in 2023. In addition, Patterson has been engaged to perform agreed-upon procedures analyzing the court, clerk, and tax collector accounting.


At the December Town Board meeting, the town’s engineer, George Schmidt of CPL, discussed his firm’s possible solutions for dealing with the town’s main sewer line for the lower hamlet, which was run too close to the well for the building that will house the new Twisted Sister Coffee Shop. The firm recommends encasing 100 feet of the main sewer in concrete and having the coffee shop install a one micron absolute cartridge filter in addition to the filter and UV light they already have for treating the water. Board members chose to defer any decision on the matter.


At the meeting the board approved hiring CPL to write a grant proposal for the Anthony, Coldwater and Maple Streetscape project that includes sidewalks. Their fee is $5,000.


Hillsdale's Town Court is meeting by pre-arranged appointments only. Pre-arranged civil cases will be heard the first Wednesday of the month. Criminal and traffic cases will be heard on the third Wednesday of every month at 4 PM. Your phone number is needed to set an appointment. Call 518 325-5073 ext. 4 and leave your name and phone number or can send an email containing your phone number to [email protected].


Hillsdale residents can get help coverings costs associated with prescriptions, prescription premiums and co-pays through the The Foundation for Community Health Prescription Assistance Program. The cost of equipment needed to administer medication, such as syringes and nebulizers, as well as glucose test strips and glucometers are also eligible for financial assistance. Contact the Columbia County Community Healthcare Consortium at 518 822-2220 ext. 328 for information.

Climate Smart Task Forces Conducting Survey

on Climate Hazards

The Hillsdale Climate Smart Task Force, in participation with the Columbia County Climate Smart Communities Task Force, is urging Hillsdale residents to complete a second public survey designed to help Hillsdale and Columbia County develop strategies and actions to adapt to climate hazards. See link below. . The task forces are looking for ways to improve the preparedness of communities for the increasing incidence and magnitude of floods, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires, and their wide-ranging impacts on ecosystems, agriculture, and human health.

In 2024 the Hillsdale Task Force will continue its community efforts to reduce carbon emissions and increase resilience to the effects of the changing climate, building on their 2023 successes such as achieving Bronze level status for climate smart certification, drafting a Hillsdale Vulnerability Assessment document, and continuing participation in the county-wide climate smart program.

Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Plan Survey

Safe at Home Committee News

John Farell to Speak and Sing at Coffee Hour

Hillsdale resident John Farrell, a songwriter, author, and peace activist, will be the speaker/performer at the January Safe at Home Coffee Hour. For over 30 years, John has traveled the world, visiting schools to sing and write songs that promote peace and understanding.

John’s work has received a Parents Choice Award and a Dove Foundation Award. He is the founder of the non-profit organization Bridges of Peace and Hope, and was honored by Judith’s Reading Room as a recipient of a Freedom through Literacy Award. In addition to releasing eight CD’s, John is the author of three picture books published by Boyds Mills Press, including “Stargazer’s Alphabet,” an ILA Notable Book of the Year.

The Coffee Hour will be at Hillsdale House from 10 to 11:30 AM on Tuesday, January 30. Coffee and refreshments will be served and conversation is encouraged. If you need a ride or have any questions please contact Natalie at 518 265-2113

Safe at Home's Holiday party, hosted by Kelly Sweet at Mt. Washington House, was very well attended by Hillsdale seniors. Christina Dellea provided music.

Let the County Compost Your Food Waste

Did you know that food sent to a landfill not only wastes nutrition and the resources used to grow, store, process, and distribute it, but also produces methane, which dramatically accelerates global warming? According to the EPA, landfills contribute more than 14% of all US methane emissions. It is estimated that food waste is the most common material feeding our landfills. Even if methane is responsibly captured at landfills, reducing food in the waste stream presents a key opportunity to lower our carbon footprint.

This is why Columbia County has implemented a food waste scrap program that allows residents and the community to reduce the amount of food waste taken to the landfill. All county convenience stations now have a green bin where food scraps can be left. Hillsdale's bin is next to where metal is collected. The food waste is taken to the Greenport Transfer Station, where it is placed in the EcoRich in-vessel composter that recycles the food waste on site, without odors or pest problems, while reducing the dependency on landfills. Click below to see a video explaining how the composter works.

The following food items can be composted:

Fruits and Vegetables - NO stickers, bands, ties

Meat and Poultry - Bones are OK

Fish and Shellfish - Shells are OK

Dairy Products

Bread and Pasta

Rice and Grains


Chips and Snacks

Beans, Nuts, and Seeds

Leftover and Spoiled Food

Coffee Grounds

Tea Bags - (staples must be removed)

If it is not on the list it is NOT accepted for composting in Columbia County.

The following can NOT be composted:

NO plastic bags, compostable/biodegradable bags, packaging, stickers, rubber bands, or twist ties

NO pet waste, baby wipes, diapers, foil, paper plates, paper towels, tissue, napkins, feminine products, or compostable products

NO plastic, glass, metal, kitchenware


Composter Video


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

  • Film Screening: My Encounter with the Ghost of Joe Zelli
  • Roe Jan Writers Series: Author/chef Julie Gale discusses her new memoir
  • Involuntary Innovator: A Musical Book Talk by Howard Lieberman
  • Qigong & Tai Chi every Thursday
  • Tea Time at the Library: Rev. John Thompson on the separation of church and state
  • Book Marks Book Club: reading Beaverland by Leila Philip
  • Cookbook Club: Cook and bring a dish from local author Julie Gale's new cookbook
  • Navigating Digital Worlds: How to Recognize and Fight Back Against Disinformation in Social Media
  • Free English-language tutoring 6 - 7:30 PM on Thursdays, by appointment; this tutoring program is intended primarily for adults
  • Job search and resume help

Programs for Kids: Lego Thursdays, Playtime with Tia on Wednesdays, Homeschool Wednesdays, and Storytime with Tia on Saturdays

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

The Friends of the Roe Jan Library Book Shop will be opening again on Saturday, January 6 and will be open every Saturday from 10 AM -2 PM (weather permitting). The Friends will be accepting donations from 10:30 AM - 1:30 PM. Appointments to donate are no longer required.

Upcoming Town Meetings

The Planning Board will meet at Town Hall on Monday, January 8 at 7 PM. The agenda will be available a few days before the meeting on the Agenda & Minutes page of the town website. A PDF will be in the Agenda column next to the date 2024-01-08.

The Zoning Board will not meet in January.

Agendas & Minutes

Housing Committee

Time: Sunday, January 7, 10 AM


Passcode: 013205

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 896 1008 8947

In person: Levy residence, 66 White Hill Road

Economic Development Committee

Time: Wednesday, January 17, 11 AM


Passcode: 152433

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 814 2094 3911

Safe at Home Committee

Time: Friday, January 19, 3 PM

Cook & Larder, in the Hillsdale General Store Building, on Rt. 23

Conservation Advisory Council

Time: Thursday, January 25, 7 PM

Town Hall

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Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley

[email protected]

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