At its June 7 meeting, Gardiner City Council voted to move forward with the process of adopting a Community Preservation Plan (CPP). It has established itself as the lead agency in the project’s national environmental quality review, a type 1 action; confirmed the number of members of the Advisory Board at seven; set the Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) rate at 1.25%, slightly lower than New Paltz’s 1.5%; and scheduled a public hearing on July 12 on the three local laws that must be passed by the end of July for the CPP and RETT to come into force in 2023.
Progress on this issue is not surprising, as the Plan has been in the works for over a year now and the whole Board seems invested in its adoption. The shock at last week’s meeting was that Warren Wiegand, a strong supporter of open space preservation during all his years as a public servant at Gardiner, voted No on all of these resolutions. His rationale was that although it was an “excellent proposal”, there was not enough time to sell the CPP to the citizens of Gardiner in time for the November referendum, the passage of which is necessary for the promulgation of the RETT.
“We’re doing the right thing, but we’re going too fast,” Wiegand said. “The community really doesn’t know enough about the community preservation plan for this to continue.” He based that assessment on conversations he had had informally with other Gardiner residents, he said.
Much of Wiegand’s concern had to do with the current state of the US economy and the anxiety of voters heading to the polls on Election Day. “By November, inflation will get worse,” he predicted. “A new property tax is a big deal…Laws that have an economic impact need to be crafted carefully, with lots of public education.”
The rest of the city council disagreed, arguing that the upcoming public hearing would provide an adequate opportunity for residents to catch up on what is being proposed, and that there was still time for other activities. awareness. They also took issue with Wiegand’s characterization of the RETT as a “property tax”. Councilman Franco Carucci stressed that the new tax “impacts potential buyers, not owners. It doesn’t affect me unless I sell and buy another house here… Everyone who comes here should feel like it’s an investment.
Carucci also noted that the RETT adopted at New Paltz has already “proven to be very effective.” Councilwoman Laura Walls agreed: “It works in other communities; we are not the first. I feel comfortable moving forward. »
“I think we have a good product. I think we have time to push it,” Supervisor Marybeth Majestic said, calling for votes on all three resolutions. They went 4-1.
The adoption of local laws adopting the CPP is expected after the July 12 public hearing. These must then be filed with the New York State Department of State before the Board can vote to adopt the RETT. A special meeting for this sole purpose was scheduled for July 27. August 8 is the last date the City can file with the Elections Office to obtain the RETT referendum on the November 2022 ballot.