The goal of this newsletter is to share a bit of local news and shine a spotlight on the interesting things that are happening  in Hillsdale and nearby.

News from Town Hall
Our community library has launched the Sixth Annual Community Dine Out - a program that encourages "dining local" and raises money for library programming. Restaurant partners donate ten percent of revenues from Dine Out meals to our sensational library. 

By the way, lots of library events are posted on the town website but be sure to c heck the  library website for a much more complete list of all the things happening there.

Annual 284 Plan

The Highway Superintendent's 284 Plan was accepted by the Town Board at a Special Meeting on February 20. Like last year's agreement, 2019 expenditure of highway moneys between the Highway Superintendent and the Town Board includes spending $217,000 for road paving and resurfacing. It also includes an additional $170,000 for general road repairs and maintenance.

This newsletter will inform the community about major road work as it's communicated to us. Be on the lookout.

Reduced Weight Capacity for Bridge on Tribrook

Due to a recent inspection by the NYSDOT Region 8 Bridge Inspection Unit, the Roe Bridge, carrying Tribrook Road over the Roeliff Jansen Kill (located west of the intersection of Tribrook Road and Collins Street) will now need to be posted with a 10-Ton maximum vehicle weight limit.  

This is the result of continuing steel stringer section loss and deck deterioration which further reduces the load-carrying capacity of this bridge.

The Columbia County Department of Public Works will begin investigations to determine if there are any feasible countermeasures, repairs or enhancements available that will restore some of the load-carrying capacity of this very low-volume, local bridge structure.  

Read the notice.

Restore AIM

The Hillsdale Town Board joined many other municipalities across the state by adopting a resolution urging the Governor to restore AIM (Aid & Incentives for Municipalities) funds to towns and villages across the state. Though the Governor relented, his  newest proposal is to have counties pick up the shortfall in their increased sales tax from internet sales. That too may result in another outcry from towns everywhere. 

Derelict Buildings

More than a few emails and calls in recent months inquire about derelict buildings in the Town - and what the can do. The short answer is that while the Town can condemn buildings and act to demolish derelict buildings if they become a threat to public safety, until these buildings are a threat to public safety there is relatively little the Town can do. If and when the town does demolish a derelict building, the cost of demolition will be borne by the taxpayers, and may not be recovered for years, if at all.

Historic Hillsdale
Tax Credits for Historic Property

As the signs proudly declare, Hillsdale has an Historic District that includes 82 properties in the hamlet. Many property owners have received substantial tax credits for work on historic buildings in the hamlet - from a new boiler to full scale renovation. Now a new bill has been introduced that will give even bigger tax credits (30%) for smaller projects ($5 million and under). Hillsdale home and commercial property owners can make improvements and get tax breaks to do it! 

The NYS legislation has not yet passed the bill but with the help of our local legislators - it will soon. Contact them here.

Our friends at the Preservation League of NYS provide more  details .

In the meantime, o wners of historic income-producing real property, owner occupied homes, and barns may qualify for an income tax credit for rehabilitating the property. More here.

County Subcommittee Considers Short-term Rental Occupancy Tax

The issue of short-term rentals, including Airbnb, is a relevant topic these days - and for good reason. Many people are struggling to find affordable housing and worry that rentals are contributing to an increasingly cost-prohibitive market. It is also important to acknowledge that owners of short-term rental properties have invested time, money, and energy into our community.

As reported in local papers, a county subcommittee that is taking a closer look at this is considering a countywide 4% occupancy tax for short term rentals, such as Airbnb.

Creating a county lodging tax is not inherently in favor of or against short-term rentals-the tax is unlikely to impact the growth of the market. In addition, since zoning happens at the city, town, and village level, Columbia County is unlikely to create regulations regarding where and under what conditions a short-term rental can exist. It is possible that the County could provide municipalities with compliance support-to help municipalities enforce whatever regulations they create.

Though no final recommendation has been made, it will take most of this year to reach a vote at the Board of Supervisors and will then need to be approved by the State legislature. 

The latest debate among county supervisors is how to use the potential revenue. Should it be returned to the towns who lure their share of out-of-town guests or should it feed county coffers? Welcome your feedback.

Photo below:   Eagle, Hillsdale, NY, photo by Heather Kitchen - part of an  exhibition of photographs that will be held from March 2 - May 6, 2019 in Burke Hall Gallery, Church of St. John in the Wilderness, Copake Falls. The images by the two nature photographers display the abundant and varied bird habitats of the Hudson Valley.  The public is invited to the exhibition opening, at Burke Hall at the church on March 2 at 5 pm.

Under New Management
The Hillsdale Gulf Station at the intersection of routes 22 and 23 is under new management.  Be sure to stop in and welcome  Taran Singh, manager, and John Felix, chef. John prepares a wide range of fresh deli sandwiches and much more throughout the day.

Safe at Home March Report
Each month our Committee will offer something of interest, value, help for our seniors to remain safely at home in beautiful Hillsdale.
March is surprisingly cold!!! Winter is not quite over and it means we still have to be vigilant! As an older adult one can lose body heat fast and according to the National Institute on Aging faster than when you are young.
" Changes in your body that come with aging can make it harder for you to be aware of getting cold. A big chill can turn into a dangerous problem before an older person even knows what's happening. Doctors call this serious problem hypothermia. Hypothermia is what happens when your body temperature gets very low. Being outside in the cold, or even being in a very cold house can lead to hypothermia."
Here are some tips from the National Institute on Aging or staying warm inside and lowering your chance of hypothermia.
  • Set your heat to at least 68-70°F. To save on heating bills, close off rooms you are not using; close vents and shut doors in these rooms, and keep the basement door closed. Place a rolled towel in front of all doors to keep out drafts.
  • Make sure your house isn't losing heat through windows. Keep your blinds and curtains closed. If you have gaps around the windows, try weather stripping or caulk to keep the cold air out.
  • Dress warmly on cold days even if you are staying in the house. Wear socks and slippers.
  • When you go to sleep, wear long underwear under your pajamas, and use extra covers. Wear a cap or hat.
  • Make sure you eat enough food to keep up your weight. If you don't eat well, you might have less fat under your skin. Body fat helps you to stay warm.
  • You may be tempted to warm your room with a space heater. But, some space heaters are fire hazards, and others can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has information on the use of space heaters.
  • Most important: Ask family or friends and neighbors to check on you during cold weather. AND, remember your Safe at Home committee in Hillsdale is here to help.
Photo below: 100 years ago - nothing but fields on the south side of Route 23.

Community Read
In partnership with the Taconic Hills Central School District, three local libraries are excited to announce the 2019 Community Read, a community-wide reading program and series of events for children in grades 4-8. This year's featured book is Kenneth Oppel's Silverwing, a novel about a young bat's struggle to survive after being separated from his colony. 
Participating libraries include Claverack, Philmont, and Roeliff Jansen. The program will begin on March 7 at the Roe Jan Library in Copake and conclude on April 12 with a finale sponsored by all three libraries at the AB Shaw Firehouse in Claverack.
Young community members are welcome to check out a copy of Silverwing from their local library, and to attend any or all of the following events (with an adult):
Thursday, March 7, 6:30pm: Mud Creek Talk on Creatures of the Night at the Roe Jan Library, 9091 Route 22, Copake.; 518-325-4101.
Learn about northeastern nocturnal animals from Pamela Price, Certified Wildlife Biologist and Education Program Coordinator at Mud Creek Environmental Learning Center. Includes a hike (weather permitting) through Roe Jan Park to search for nocturnal animals and test our own night vision.  More information .

Photo below: Route 22 and North Hillsdale from the east. 

AARP Tax-Aide Program Tax Preparation
We are ready for the new tax changes.   Free Income tax preparation will be offered starting February 4th through April 4th at sites in Hudson, Philmont, and Valatie. The program is opened to all individuals with special attention given to those 60 or older. The program is part the IRS's "Tax Counseling for the Elderly".
Volunteers are trained to handle tax returns that include itemized deductions, capital gains, W2s, pensions, IRA distributions, and credits including child tax credits and earned income credits. Also, persons who purchased health insurance through the ACA Marketplace and receive a 1095-A form must file a tax return even if their income does not qualify for filing.   The only business returns that may be done are simple ones, with no depreciation and no business losses.
All returns will be e-filed unless there are some special circumstances that prevent it.
Appointments are required; call the telephone number listed under each site.   In case of bad weather call the contact number to make sure the site is opened.
If you have any questions about the program or are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact the local coordinator Noel Fair at 518-610-4879.

Locations and hours
Philmont New Location: Philmont Village Hall- 124 Main St
Monday 9:am- 1:00pm Call 518-325-4337
Hudson: Office of the Aging - 325 Columbia St - 2nd floor
Thursdays 9:00am-1:00pm - Call 518-610-4879
Valatie: Village Hall, 3211 Church St,
Tuesday 9:00am-1:00pm, Thursday 1-4 Call 518-758-9342

Photo below: Cross country skiing in the Roe Jan Park

Thanks for reading this newsletter.   If you want to promote your upcoming event on the Hillsdale calendar, share an old photo, or write an article or two, I'd love to hear from you.
Peter Cipkowski, Town Supervisor and Town Crier