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Highland OKs preliminary budget with minimal increase

By David Hulse
October 23, 2013

The Highland Town Board last Tuesday approved a 2014 budget that would call for a tax levy of $1,636,202.64, or a 1.33% increase in the town’s share of property owners’ January tax bills.

Coming in below the state’s 2% cap, the $2,189,420.64 proposal will come before a public hearing on Monday, November 4 at 7 p.m.

The hearing will precede a special meeting of the town board, replacing the board’s normally scheduled first-Tuesday work session, where Supervisor Andrew Boyar said he will seek final approval of the budget. The early budget approval, before scheduled November 5 elections, would be the first in Sullivan County, Boyar said.

The budget hearing will follow 6:45 p.m. hearings for the Yulan and Highland Lake fire departments, the American Legion Ambulance Service and the Sunshine Hall Library. Those budgets traditionally receive little or no public comment and are quickly completed.

In other business, the town received two bids for demolition, under the unsafe building ordinance, of the Lang property in Washington Lake.

Owner John Lang disputed Code Enforcement Officer David Keebler’s report that no plans had been submitted to the town for demolition or repair of the property.

Lang said, “The plans are there. I gave them to Keebler and he said they’re fine.”

Noting Keebler’s report again, Boyar said “We have a dispute here.”

He asked Lang to meet with him on October 14 to “see if we can arrange something.”

A demolition permit for the property expires on November 18.

Separately, Boyar reported that Town of Highland Chief Constable Mike Walton had been instrumental in the identification and subsequent Pennsylvania arrest of Kevin Lemma, 22 of Holbrook, for the September 24 robbery of the Eldred branch of the First National Bank of Jeffersonville.

Walton said he recalled stopping a vehicle matching the suspected getaway car earlier in the town. Finding a known occupant later, he questioned him, which led to Lemma’s arrest by state police in Pennsylvania.

Boyar also reported that Councilman Scott Hallock’s inquiries have determined that the state office of emergency management (SEMO) has funds to aid in the relocation of municipal facilities having significant flooding exposure, and that the town’s highway garage may be eligible. Boyar, Hallock and highway superintendent Tom Ebers were to meet with SEMO representative at the town hall at 10 a.m. on October 17 to discuss the town’s long-held plan to relocate the highway department to town-owned property behind the senior citizens center.