Please call your Ulster County Legislator today and ask that they reject Resolution No. 91 “Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions” on April 18th. “It is important to me that you do not support a ban on the memorializing resolution process. A ban is undemocratic and infringes on my first amendment right to petition.” Plan to attend the next Ulster County regular legislative meeting on Tuesday, April 18th at 7:00 pm at the Ulster County Office Building located at 244 Fair Street, 6th Floor in Kingston, NY. Arrive at 6:30 pm to sign-up to speak and to get a seat. Citizens are encouraged to create a two (2) minute testimony that is respectful and succinct.
In March of 2017, Resolution No. 91, a proposed ban on memorializing resolutions, had its first reading (see video below). In order to change a local law, that’s step one in the process. On April 18th, the resolution will be read a final time before it goes to vote.
Here are the facts. (**)
Is a letter from the legislature as effective as a memorializing resolution?
No. Memorializing resolutions must be submitted to the Clerk of the Legislature by the sponsor(s), along with all other business of the session, by a specific deadline. The appropriate standing committee is chosen based on the issue. It is placed on the committee agenda and discussed at the regularly scheduled meeting, which is open to the public. The members of the committee have the opportunity to discuss the MR in committee before voting to send it to the “floor” of the legislature for a vote in the upcoming session. A letter is not an act of the legislature that invites group discussion in committee, requires a vote by that committee to be sent to the floor, and is then a part of the public process where the public sees the memorializing resolution and can attend the session to weigh in.
Why do proponents of the ban on Memorializing Resolutions claim that they take up too much time during regular legislative sessions?
In 2016, the rules were changed prohibiting discussion on Memorializing Resolutions during the legislative session. However, procedure allows for members to call for a “long roll” (i.e., a one-by-one vote) so that they may speak on the issue. KingstonCitizens.org believes that engaging in debate in a way that represents and involves the public is the legislature’s business. They are protecting our “right to petition” by creating an opportunity for our voices to be heard and for our petitions to have a real forum. A ban on memorializing resolutions discredits public participation, civic dialogue, due process and the First Amendment.
Why are memorializing resolutions important?
Memorializing resolutions are statements of principles that do not become a local law or policy. They are “non-binding”. It is, effectively, a petition by one legislative body to other legislative bodies and lawmakers to provide a mechanism that allow citizens and the legislature to take a stand on important issues.
Why do the ban’s sponsors claim that Memorializing Resolutions have been used as a political tool?
The sponsors have said that memorializing resolutions were used recently by the Democratic Caucus to polarize the legislative body over issues we have no control over. Memorializing resolutions are a governing tool. Governing tools are non-partisan.
“It’s difficult to overstate the seriousness of the environmental threats coming from this administration. We have never had a head of the EPA so hostile towards the mission of the agency, and never had a President so unwilling to make decisions based on science and law.” – Kate Hudson, Waterkeeper Alliance
Please be sure to visit our upcoming SCHEDULE to learn more about future community educational forums.
Special thanks to Kate Hudson for her generosity in sharing her knowledge as our guest panelist; Peter and Julie at Church des Artists for their space, kindness, and for making this video; and, to all of our KingstonCitizens.org volunteers for their assistance.
Resources: VIEW: KingstonCitizens.org’s “Trump Administration Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws”
Last evening, the Ulster County Legislature Laws and Rules Committee had their monthly meeting with one of the items being to discuss Resolution No. 91 “Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions”. It passed through committee by a 4 / 3 vote. We filmed the meeting thanks to The Kingston News (brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org) so that you can see the debate from last night. We also took the liberty to note the legislator’s districts and localities they represent in the case that one of the members represents you and you wish to contact them directly.
Due to today’s snowstorm, the regular legislative session that was to be for this evening was moved to tomorrow night, Wednesday, March 15th at 7:00pm in Legislative Chambers (6th Floor) of the Ulster County Building located at 244 Fair Street in Kingston. Residents can sign-up to speak when they arrive.
We ask citizens consider coming to speak tomorrow in opposition of the Ulster County Legislature banning memorializing resolutions. Please keep comments respectful, succinct and no longer than three (3) minutes in length.
In the case that the meeting is moved again, we’ll send out an update.
VIEW Ulster County Legislature Laws and Rules Committee Meeting
Video from Tuesday, March 13, 2017
Our first community educational forum “On Constitutional Law” was a huge success. At capacity, citizens took in a three-hour discussion on Constitutional Law as it pertains to the Trump Administration’s initiatives for his (their) first 100 days in office.
You can view the video HERE, or by clicking on the image above. We have done general markings to make it easier for the public to follow along (see below).
Because of the storm the day before our event, the Rondout in Kingston had lost its power for most of the afternoon making it impossible to stream. We will be streaming however next month, and for all the remaining educational panels throughout the 2017 season.
We hope that this series inspires citizens in our region to place more energy in connecting to neighbors and their communities. To become more knowledgeable and less afraid. To emphasize due process and to come to know how to access (and interpret) the laws that are in place to protect us.
Special thanks to Dr. Lynn Eckert for her generosity in sharing her knowledge as our guest panelist; Peter and Julie at Church des Artists for their space, kindness, and for making this video; and, to all of our KingstonCitizens.org volunteers for their assistance.
Do you want to become a KingstonCitizens.org Fellow? Sign-up in advance to attend all eight of our upcoming educational forums in 2017. Deadline to do so is Friday, February 24th. Only 15 spots available! See our schedule below.
What you will receive:
A “reserved” seat throughout the 2017 educational forum series.
Become an expert! A free education on all presented topics including information on local and NYS policies and laws as they pertain to these subjects.
A certificate of completion from KingstonCitizens.org
Two of our “fellows” will be selected randomly to win a free year subscription to a local newspaper of their choice.
…and perhaps more surprises as we go along.
Write to Rebecca Martin at email@example.com with “KingstonCitizens.org Fellowship” in the subject line.
For more information, VIEW: KingstonCitizens.org Host Eight-Part Educational Forums in 2017.
Sunday, Feb. 26th, 2017 From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
PART I: On Constitutional Law A conversation on constitutional law as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives.
With special guest Dr. Lynn Mills Eckert
Associate Professor of Political Science, Marist College
Sunday, March 19th, 2017 From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm PART II: On Climate Change, Energy, and Infrastructure A conversation on climate change, energy, and infrastructure as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives.
With special guest Kate Hudson, Esq.
Sunday, April 30th, 2017 From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm PART III: On Immigration A discussion on the Ulster County Legislature’s upcoming Resolution No. 138 “Creating A Policy To Maintain A Safe, Inclusive Government And Ensure The Protection, Order, Conduct, Safety, Health, And Well Being Of All Persons In Ulster County,” with guest panelists District 7 Legislator (Kingston) Jennifer Schwartz Berky and Ulster County Sheriff Van Blarcum. Other guests TBA. The discussion will review this and other local proposals using the guidance provided by Attorney General Schneiderman and the ACLU to help communities understand their rights under the proposed changes in Washington.
With special guests Jennifer Schwartz Berky District 7 Legislator
Sherriff Paul J. Van Blarcum Ulster County Sherriff
Sunday, May 21st, 2017 From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm PART IV: On Public Education A conversation on public education as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives.
With special guests Robin Jacobowitz, Ph.D.
Director of Education Projects at The Benjamin Center, SUNY New Paltz, Trustee, City of Kingston Board of Education and Executive Committee of Ulster County School Boards Association
James F. Shaughnessy, Jr., Officer City of Kingston Board of Education
Sunday, July 23rd, 2017 From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm PART V: On Women’s Issues A conversation on women’s issues as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives.
With special guests: TBA
Sunday, September 17th, 2017 From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm PART VI: On Economics
A conversation on economics as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives.
With special guest economist and energy analyst Evelyn Wright.
Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm PART VII: On Strategic Organizing: Looking Forward A conversation on strategic organizing as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives. With special guest Callie Mackenzie Jayne Lead Organizer
Citizen Action of NY
Hudson Valley Chapter
Sunday, November 12th, 2017 From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm PART VIII: On Local and NYS Clean Energy A conversation on local and NYS clean energy as it pertains to President Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives. With special guests Jennifer Metzger, Director Citizens for Local Power
In November of last year, when Donald Trump became our president-elect, most of the world felt as if it had shifted in an unprecedented way. Whether citizens supported Trump or did not, there was a common feeling of either joyous or defeated disbelief.
It wasn’t long after that a list of Trump’s initiatives appeared for his first 100 days in office. With the support of a Republican majority in Congress, Trump’s initiatives suddenly seemed plausible. I saw this as an opportunity to look more closely at the checks and balances that exist in local, state and federal government.
We jumped quickly into action, creating a google document (so that citizens could collaborate) that outlines Trump’s initiatives so to better explore their context and, to identify local and New York State policies and laws that could help guide us through this new administration. We hosted very small meetings with a couple dozen citizens to start this important work and realized shortly after that it needed to continue and be open to more citizen’s input.
VIEW: “Trump’s Initiatives: Local/State Policy and Laws”
The result is an educational series that will span 2017. Citizens can expect an array of subjects with expert panelists, a question and answer period, an interactive work session on KingstonCitizens.org’s document “Trump Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws” and short tutorials to help navigate the City of Kingston’s municipal website.
Thanks to Peter Wetzler and Julie Hedrick of Church Des Artistes who have donated their beautiful space so that we are comfortable and supported in our efforts each month.
Please review the list of topics, dates, and details below. We are currently booking more guests and will make those announcements as they are confirmed. For now, put all of the following dates in your calendar!
We look forward to meeting more of our neighbors, making new connections and becoming more educated on a whole host of complicated topics.
Knowledge is power.
“Community Educational Forums: An Eight-Part Series”
at Church Des Artistes
79 Wurts Street
Historic Rondout section of Kingston, NY
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.
Over the course of the series in 2017, citizens can expect an array of subjects with expert panelists, a question and answer period, an interactive work session on KingstonCitizens.org’s document “Trump Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws” and short tutorials to help navigate the City of Kingston’s municipal website.
Moderated by KingstonCitizens.org Co-Founder Rebecca Martin.
Participants are encouraged to bring a dessert to share. Coffee and tea provided. We encourage citizens to bring along their personal computer laptop if they have one. All dates and topics subject to change.
Something has changed throughout the recent presidential campaign that led to Donald J. Trump becoming president. Whichever end of the spectrum you found yourself on, the citizen dialogue was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Over the past couple of years, I have witnessed hateful rhetoric. Anonymous blogs and posters throughout social media debating half truths fed by the media, slaying people in ways that were unfair, inappropriate and in some cases downright violent in nature. As overt as it has been, the anger leading up to where we are today has been a slow and simmering trajectory downward.
So now what? America is about to inaugurate an unapologetically crass multi-national business man turned reality star celebrity who lost the popular vote to become president. A man without any political experience on the grand stage to be the leader of the free world.
It is our aim at KingstonCitizens.org with the issues that we take on to understand the law and process around them. Whatever side one leans towards, we appreciate the bureaucraticprocesses in place because we know that when ciitzens choose to lean in, there is that to protect them as they come to better understand governing. When it’s not working, then there is a need for reform. Coming to better know the law and process provides a baseline, and these safeguards will most certainly erode if citizens do not become familiar with them.
Since December, KingstonCitizens.org has spent time preparing a document that outlines Trump’s initiatives for the first 100 days of his being in office and disseminating their context to better match initiatives, policy and laws as they pertain to NYS, Ulster County and our locality. It’s a ‘living’ document that we will work on throughout 2017 with volunteers to provide insight so that your civic efforts might be more focused and pointed.
Government on every level is a civic responsibility. Beyond Trump, the challenges that we face today is a burden that we all must shoulder. To protect our republic for generations to come – if a future republic is even possible at this point- we must hold our neighbors hand no matter who that is or how different their point of view is from yours – and get to work.
A special thanks to all of our volunteer contributors.
Here are key facts to clarify much of the misinformation on the matter of Kingston’s proposed memorializing resolution on being “welcoming and inclusive”. We hope it is helpful to citizens of Kingston as they prepare their testimony on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. Please arrive at Kingston City Hall (420 Broadway, Kingston – council chambers) at 6:45pm to sign-up to speak and to get a seat. The Mayor’s ‘state of the city’ address will begin at 7:00pm, and the Common Council will have their January council meeting following at approximately 7:30pm. Public comment will take place at that time.
Initial letter from 21 City of Kingston faith groups requesting Kingston declare itself a ‘sanctuary city’.
“Kingston as a Welcoming and Inclusive City”.
IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON DECLARING ITSELF A “SANCTUARY CITY”? No. In the memorializing resolution, although the “whereas” states that “these practices are generally considered to be ‘sanctuary city’ principles”, the proposed action of the City of Kingston is simply to reaffirm that it has always been and will always be that of “a welcoming and inclusive city”.
VIEW: Mayor Steve Noble’s reasoning why the memorializing resolution is not titled a ‘sanctuary city’. (Begins at 23:56 – 25:28)
WHAT IS A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION? A memoralizing resolution does not set forth policy or law. Instead, it creates text to cause people to remember. It is a tool to both educate and in this case, to remind us of our principles and values.
VIEW: Mayor Steve Noble explains the context of the memorializing resolution (begins at 1:10 – 7:54).
IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON VIOLATING ANY LAWS BY PASSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”? No. The City of Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti reviewed the memoralizing resolution and found no conflicts with existing practices and procedures of the Kingston Police Department. Immigration is federal law, not local law. Kingston, and all US municipalities, is barred from making laws relating to immigration.
IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON AT RISK OF LOSING FEDERAL FUNDING BY PASSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”?
No. The current memoralizing resolution does not change any existing laws, rules or practices of the City of Kingston or the Kingston Police Department and is consistent with the principles of the NYS and US Constitution.
READ: “Trump Can’t Force “sancutary cities” to enforce his deportation plans.” in the Washington Post.
KingstonCitizens.org to host a public educational forum and discussion called “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts” on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers located at 420 Broadway, in Kingston NY from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Guest panelists include Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper, Sue Rosenberg of Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline/CAPP-NY, Jen Metzger of Citizens For Local Power and a Rosendale Town Councilwoman and Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson. The short film “Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It” will be presented by Writer, filmmaker and adventurer and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council Jon Bowermaster.
The event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Co-sponsored by Riverkeeper, Citizens for Local Power, Scenic Hudson, CAPP-NY, the Local Economies Project and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston Land Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Earth Guardians NY, Citizen Action NY and Sustainable Hudson Valley. With support from the City of Kingston, the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislature and 103rd District Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.
VIEW Event on Facebook for up-to-date information on this important local event.
Kingston, NY – Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines that would run along the NYS Thruway and through private property—one pipeline carrying Bakken crude oil south from Albany, NY, to a refinery in Linden, NJ, and the other carrying refined products north. The 170+ miles of pipelines, together with nearly 13 miles of lateral pipelines, would impact 31 communities in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland counties, as well as 30+ communities in New Jersey. The carrying capacity of each pipeline would be 200,000 barrels (or 8.4 million gallons) per day, which would more than double the number of trains carrying volatile Bakken crude to the Port of Albany at the peak of Bakken crude production in 2014. The increase in crude-by-rail volume means that the project will also impact many communities north and west of Albany through which the CSX and Canadian Pacific rail lines run.
Yesterday, we learned that the proposed shooting range proposal slated for Midtown, Kingston was to be placed on the Finance Committee agenda for discussion today (Wednesday, 4/13). If you are like us, that’s barely enough time to plan to attend for an issue that might be of interest. All of our schedules are thrown to get there within 24 hours. But this is the way our council has outwardly communicated with the public for as long as we can remember, making it very hard for citizens to engage.
At last March’s Public Safety/General Committee meeting, the shooting range proposal was also placed on the agenda. But unlike today, the agenda was never made public which means, citizens couldn’t plan to attend at all. Dr. Adam Soyer, however, who is proposing the shooting range along with his supporters were in attendance. The discussion therefore, had only the potential of being one-sided.
At the last Water Board Meeting, a board member made a motion to “Make sure that those who record meetings notify us prior to doing such action and that we have a record of those doing such.”
In other words, you can’t record their meetings unless you alert the board in advance and then, submit some form of paperwork to be determined. It passed through unanimously and their Lawyer, Bill Cloonan, clarified and obliged (see video below. Starts at 7:31 and ends at 9:18).
What the board and their lawyer may not have realized is that what they requested was against NYS Open Meetings Law on recording devices.
Jennifer Schwartz Berky, KingstonCitizens.org’s Policy and Planning advisor, called Albany to confirm that this was the case, and crafted a letter to the Water Board requesting that they overturn the motion based on judicial precedents (see below).
Citizens have the right to record all city meetings, and as it pertains to the water board – we will continue to do so until the end of time. Or until at least the City of Kingston does it themselves. Water management is just too important for us not to.
We hope that this instance helps to inform the public on their rights in this case.
Our lives are intimately impacted by the decisions made by our elected and appointed officials on all fronts. In this case, regarding water, by voting ‘YES’ to include the Common Council on all sales of water outside Kingston’s corporate limits, we have a real opportunity to assure better decisions to be made.
Please take note. The Water Sales Referendum will be on the BACK OF THE BALLOT on November 3rd.
At last night’s Common Council Caucus, Council members discussed Resolution #134 to “Amend Charter to Authorize Public Referendum re: Water Powers”. Alderman-at-Large James Noble and Corporation Council Andrew Zweben were in attendance.
It appears to have been determined that the Charter amendment of Water Powers would be a local law change, which would require two readings and a public hearing to be set by the Mayor within 10 days after the first reading. The first reading would take place tomorrow night if the Council votes to approve the referendum. A public hearing would occur sometime in or around June 12th. The second reading would then be read at the July 7th Common Council meeting with a full council vote to follow to pass (or not) the referendum through to the November ballot.
At last evening’s meeting, Corporation Council Andy Zweben clarified that “The press release that was issued by the Water Department was not authorized by the Mayor, or the other members of the Water Department to the best of his knowledge and does not represent how he feels on this issue.” Andy Zweeben also relayed that speaking to the Mayor today, he stated that “…if the local law is passed, he will sign it. They’ll be a referendum and the voters will decide.”
Zweeben also expressed his discomfort with “the speed in which the referendum was moving” (* Please see below). But the Public Safety/General Government Committee has been working on this since March of this year where his office has been in attendance. That’s three months of discussion and it being on the Corporation Council’s radar. Regardless, we appreciate Corporation Council’s efforts here. Whether willingly or not, they provided the council with the information that they needed to move this ahead.
In order now for the referendum to be placed on the ballot, the council will need to pass through the resolution for referendum tomorrow, and a public process as described above must take place. All of which needs to be accomplished by the end of August in order for it to be submitted to the Board of Elections.
* Clarification: Watching for many months in this case, we have seen the Water Powers change go from a local law change, to a referendum to a combination of the two. As citizens, we depend on the good advice of our elected and appointed officials to understand the proper process.
We received a communication from Corporation Council Andrew Zweeben who said that we had misrepresented what he said at the last Public Safety/General Government committee meeting (see above and below). On the subject of the speed of the referendum, what he was referring to was that it was quick to draft an amended local law in just one week (5 days) which is true and he would have preferred more time to do so. Given the tight deadline to get this passed and onto the ballot in November, it is the case. We apologize for the misunderstanding.
You can view video from last evening’s meeting: 11:16 – 17:08 Resolution 134
“Amend charter to authorize public referendum re: Water Powers”
Tonight (June 2nd), the Common Council will vote on whether or not to pass a resolution for a referendum. If it does, the first reading of the proposed amendment will take place for the clock to start ticking.
Citizens are encouraged to speak tonight to support (or not) of a referendum for the November ballot. Public Comment will begin tonight at 7:30pm. Please arrive 10 minutes early to secure a seat and to sign-up. This event will be filmed thanks to Kingston News.
Monday, June 1st, 2015
Kingston Common Council Caucus
Conference Room #1
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway, Kingston
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
Kingston Common Council
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway, Kingston
Both meetings will be filmed.
By Rebecca Martin
At last week’s Public Safety/General Government Committee meeting, a resolution for a referendum to be placed on the ballot in November passed unanimously through to the Common Council. The referendum, if approved by a full Council vote, would give the public the opportunity to vote on whether or not to amend the charter to include the Common Council for “Water Supply Outside of City”.
In Section C11-5C (Water Supply Outside of City), it says: (C) Such sales or sales must be approved by the New York State Water Power and Control Commission” (the NYS Water Power and Control Commission today is the Department of Environmental Conservation aka DEC). The referendum would ask the public to approve or not the inclusion of the Common Council, “and the common council.” That simple amendment would give the public a say as to water sales outside of Kingston’s city limits. Additionally, Kingston would automatically be an “Involved” agency in SEQR in the case one were ever triggered again.
In the meantime, the public’s water would have a layer of protection that would allow for thoughtful policy to be developed for sustainable growth and economic development using this precious public resource.
This is one of many steps that need to be taken in order to help protect Cooper Lake and our watershed as a whole. But by assuring that the sale of water outside of our small, local municipality includes our Common Council – it is a significant one.
WHAT TO EXPECT: June 1st
Caucus (Monday, 6/1), which is a public meeting of supporters and members of a specific political party (in Kingston, our nine alderpersons are made up of eight democrats and one republican), occurs each month the evening before the full Common Council meetings. Much discussion is generally had on all agenda items, as well as often, conclusions as to which way council members will cast their vote the following evening. There isn’t a sign-up for public comment during Caucus, however you may contact Matt Dunn, the Council Majority Leader (see email address below), if you wish to be added to the agenda. For those who can attend caucus, it is always enlightening and in this case, and if added to the agenda, will help you to better understand the dynamics that surround this issue.
WHAT TO EXPECT: June 2nd
It is very important that the public plan to attend the Kingston Common Council meeting on Tuesday, June 2nd to speak in support of the public referendum as described above if you are in favor of it. Please consider to thank the Public Safety/General Government Committee for their leadership role here and on passing the resolution for referendum through to Council. Request that the City take any necessary steps to make a referendum possible for the November, 2015 ballot. A public comment period begins shortly after 7:30pm. Please arrive 10 minutes early to sign-up to speak. Keep your comments succinct, respectful and no longer than 3 minutes in length.
If you cannot be in attendance next week but wish to share your thoughts with city officials regarding this matter, with “REFERENDUM: Water Supply Powers” in the subject.
Mayor Shayne Gallo
Alderman-at-Large James Noble
Matt Dunn, Ward 1 andMajority Leader firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Seche, Ward 2
“Infrastructure must be maintained. People come to rely on that service. The general population doesn’t stop to think “If I didn’t have water, how would my life be affected? How valuable is that infrastructure to my quality of life that I have? How much am I paying for it vs. how important is it to my life?”
– Fred Testa, EFC
“Many municipalities say “I haven’t raised water rates. Re-elect me!” Not good. You need to continually keep pace with the cost of running your system. One of the ways you do that is by increasing your rates to recognize that things cost more as you move forward. You also recognize that things may not break next year, but may in five years – and you keep projecting future costs.”
– Candace Balmer, RCAP
Last evening, KingstonCitizens.org hosted a “Water & Waste Water Infrastructure 101” educational panel with guests Water Resource Specialist Candace Balmer of RCAP Solutions and Environmental Project Manager Fred Testa from NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation.
Close to 50 people were in attendance that included elected and appointed officials, representatives from many of our environmental organizations and citizens alike.
Thanks to our sponsors for this event that include the Woodstock Land Conservancy, Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountainkeeper and to Kingston News for providing a live stream of the event and the following video.
0:00 – 1:56: QUESTION, Dan Shapley ”If there is a water quality problem the community is aware of, but isn’t documented on the list it’s not helping getting funding for that project?”
“If the project is going to improve water quality (class b vs. class c) does that effect the score of the project?”
3:00 – 4:04: MODERATOR
MHI (Median Household Income) is $44,000 in Kingston, making us likely to be eligible for funding.
“How is the water supply changing based on growth and change in the landscape? The way we manage, monitor, maintain?”
4:06 – 5:58: Fred Testa, EFC
“State Department of Health has the role of regulating the quality of water.”
6:00 – 6:24:MODERATOR
“Would you say that there is an increasing burden on small communities in the way of managing infrastructure?”
6:26: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Demographic changes and the financial impact from shrinking communities.”
7:02 – 7:16: MODERATOR
“H0w is the role of the government changed to met that gap? Is it doing so?
7:17: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Water is free, but the pipes that are bringing it to you are not. It costs more than what they want to deal with.”
8:28 – 12:20: MODERATOR
“In the Kingston system, rates might have to go up to provide for infrastructure needs. In the present, we are struggling to meet that demand. Can we talk for a moment about different rate structures, and what you’re seeing as best practice? Kingston has a descending rate structure today.”
9:25: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“We advocate a level rate structure and per gallon charge so that there isn’t any base usage. It’s called FULL COST PRICING.”
“How does that play out in the community?”
10:18: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“You have fixed costs. If people decide to use less to save money, the department still has to meet those costs.”
11:24: Fred Testa, EFC
“Some small communities have a simple, flat rate. In the old days, things were more simple and it’s not as simple today. In waste water, sometimes the expense on the property owner is based in part on property values.”
12:21 – 13:38: MODERATOR
“You brought asset management which the City of Kingston is undergoing for its waste water infrastructure. Can you tell us more about it and how you might be involved? By the way, it’s the most expensive piece of infrastructure for the COK to run. It was found in our climate action plan that the municipality is responsible for that, and the cost of repairs would be 3 x more than we thought given it’s in the flood plain. Instead of it being $2 million dollars it’s more like $6 million in longterm costs.”
13:40 – 18:56: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“People don’t always understand where their dollars are going, (chemicals, transmission, admin, debt repayment, etc.). It’s about getting the most value for your equipment. It costs more to fix something once it’s broken than when it was planned for so to be replaced in a timely manner. Assets are pipes, buildings, tanks, equipment, security, tools, office/lab. These are things that you have invested in and you recognize that they have a life span and when they break, you want to make sure that you have access to the things that you need to replace them efficiently and think of about financing for these replacements beforehand. The first thing you do is an inventory. You want to identify what your assets are and prioritize your critical assets. Those that you’ll be really in trouble if you don’t have a back-up or money in the kitty for replacement. Many communities don’t have maps. It’s very important to know what and where these assets are. What’s the expected use for life of an asset and how much does it cost? You’ve got to be saving money and setting it aside in dedicated accounts.”
18:29 – 18:56: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Many municipalities say “I haven’t raised water rates. Re-elect me!” Not good. You need to continually keep pace with the cost of running your system. One of the ways you do that is by increasing your rates to recognize that things cost more as you move forward. You also recognize that things may not break next year, but may in five years – and you keep projecting future costs.”
19:11 – 19:52: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Long term vs. short plan terming – you want to have the name of what you are replacing in that account so that extra money in water budgets are not transferred. You need dedicated reserve accounts.”
19:57 – 22:58: MODERATOR
“The EFC brought a list of what Kingston has borrowed from the revolving funds since 1994/1998. How does EFC Work with a city like Kingston on Asset Management?
20:56 – 22:58:Fred Testa, ECF
“We would mostly be urging them to do that. Asset Management plans are a growing phenomenon. It wasn’t done in the past. There is a growing interest to do this and the DEC is starting to work on a plan making it required. What will the rates be? How will they need to be raised in order to avoid crisis? Asset Management will take communities a long way to know what will be happening. They are a live plan. They do no good to put them up on the shelf and not revisited and updated consistently.”
22:59 – 24:06MODERATOR
“The State is trying to incorporate best practices for rating and in awarding funding. Communities should invest where they already exist vs. sprawling. Invest in existing communities instead of newer projects.”
“Can you speak to New Paltz regarding waste water? You spoke about Smart Growth. What does that mean environmentally?”
25:18 – 26:35Fred Testa, EFC
We are looking at a project with new infrastructure or expand new service area. Has the municipality planned for growth in that area? Does it add properties that local growth hasn’t thought about. We are looking to see if the local gov have considered impacts on the communities. Was it planned for? Is a comp plan available to avoid uncontrolled sprawl that have adverse effects.
27:06 – 27:26QUESTION: Rebecca Martin (Kingston)
“Can you speak a little bit to inter-municipal partnerships and how funding increase, or the benefits?”
27:28 – 29:56Fred Testa, EFC
“We want to see that there is capacity at a treatment plant for both, that the communities have already talked. We want to see an inter-municipal agreement. A legal contract drawn up by the parties. Tying in smart growth, the idea is if there is a treatment plant nearby it may be best for everyone to make use of it.”
29:57 – 30:40: MODERATOR
“There was a discussion in Kingston and Ulster in looking at that sort of collaboration in the past. I don’t know where those discussions are today. Also Comprehensive Plans can engage in other communities under municipal law to generate inter-municipal agreements.”
30:41 – 43:04:QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will (Kingston)
“I think this should be mandatory attendance for all muniapl leaders. Looking at the revolving fund loans for Kingston and noticing out of 14 there are 3 that originated from the Kingston water dept, all happening in 2012 under 1/2 million – 6.2 million. In the dealings with the KWD are you in close contact or are there ongoing communications with KWD since 2012?
32:32:Fred Testa, EFC
“I myself haven’t worked with Kingston, but the water district is referenced here – but the COK was the borrower here, not the Water Department.”
QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will
“We have a flooding task force that looked at conditions in the Rondout, historically it’s been very industrial. Are there funding mechanisms to assist with businesses and private property owners to help mitigate flooding problems?”
34:49:Fred Testa, EFC
“Not through EFC. There may be funding through the Consolidated Funding Application.”
35:43: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“There may be funding through Community Development Block Grant for these things.”
35:59 – 38:13MODERATOR and Fred Testa, EFC
“Kingston is going through it’s brownfield area opportunity, a GEIS of great magnitude that will allow business and property owners to move through the SEQR process more quickly. Through the DOS. The program, unfortunately, has sun setted but hopefully there will be more opportunities.” (more on the CFA Program, Green Innovations grant, all happen in June). “Kingston has been on the ball and have qualified for a great number of grants. As have the county. We have a green infrastructure project for Sophie Finn School.”
38:19 – 40:22 Candace Balmer, RCAP
“I want to answer your question, Brad. The CDBG program, one is public infrastructure, planning, public facilities and economic development of small business and enterprise. I don’t know if the economic development section would apply, but it’s worth looking that up. For joint applications, there are strict requirements, but if you were a join applications you could apply for more funding.”
“Kingston is an entitlement city, not entitlement county. Kingston’s CDBG goes through HUD (Housing and Urban Development).”
40:44:QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will
“What is the percentage of applications that are approved through the EFC?”
40:54 – 41:00:Fred Testa, EFC
“Last year we financed every application.”
“The window is closing for the hardship applications. If Kingston wanted to apply for the round that moves forward in 2016 and are not listed this year how would that work?”
41:24: 43:04Fred Testa, EFC
I think Kingston has projects listed in the drinking water plant, but not waste water. The City received funding last September for a study 30,000 to study the engineering planning grant WW treatment plant for improvements. They can then give us a listing form, get on the intended use plan and get a score to hopefully be high enough to apply for hardship financing. Projects can apply for up to $25 million, $18 million at 0% The city is not in a position to apply because they are not on the list. Step one. Get on the list.“
“Troubled that we are talking about conventional waste water treatment plants. They don’t include pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, hormones. However newer technologies methods do. Those plants require less maintenance impacting costs. Who do we get to help us to be directed towards innovative approaches, especially considering NYS watershed?”
44:42: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Most don’t describe technology requirements, though must be technically approvable. In that way, it’s all fundable.”
45:18:Fred Testa, EFC
“If there are new technologies being considered, the DEC which permits waste water treatment plants allows them to discharge treated wastewater as long as it meets cleanliness regulations. If they are presented with new technologies, they are going to want to see proven technical evidence.”
Candace Balmer, RCAP
“If it breaks, they want to see that you can get the pieces easily for repair. That don’t want you to put in something that is problematic in that way.”
Kathy Nolan CM
“What you’re describing is a system that doesn’t have a way to perhaps get started in communities that use better technology. With the Green Innovation funding stream, can we can get a plant funded to be used as a pilot to see how it functions and if it’s possible to create more of them. We keep coming to the same point in the conversation. We need to do something that gets us into the better technology.”
Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Get with your regulator. Have them come with you and chat about concerns. Sometimes it’s an individual look at concerns.”
48:27 – 50: 04QUESTION: Joanne Steel, Mid-Hudson Sierra Club
“Town of Lloyd had a rebed system that was doing very well. Are you familiar with it?”
49:06 Fred Testa, EFC
“That was a wetland. It’s not a rebed for sludge.”
49:17Candace Balmer, EFC
“Though it’s an example of their working with the DEC to get that project off the ground.”
50:11 – 53:53: QUESTION: Mary McNamara (Saugerties)
“In our region there are often neighborhoods where Septic Systems have failed. To accommodate, water districts have been created. It’s to o expense to bring in a clean water program. The nearby surface waters are impacted. I see it more and more. What funding programs exist for individuals?”
51:25:Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Looking at it from a community perspective, what EPA has promoted is decentralized water management concept with responsible management entity. Pay the bills. You can have a management district that manage onsite. Woodstock has a management area where they inspect and repair individual septic systems. There’s a variety of ways. For individuals, there are not a lot of programs. If you are poor or elderly you can get up to 7500 in a lifetime and septic systems are one of them that you can use it for.”
53:34: Fred Testa, EFC
“There is Housing Improvement in CDBG to improve septic systems for private drinking water wells.”
53:54 – 58:05: MODERATOR
“Kingston represents a community that has experienced it all. Now we are dealing with the burdens in dealing with infrastructure. How do we look down the road to address this challenge?”
56:11 – 57:16: Fred Testa, EFC
“You need people to sit down and focus. Asset management approach forces people to look at specific elements of infrastructure and plan accordingly. Infrastructure must be maintained. People come to rely on that service. The general population doesn’t stop to think “If I didn’t have water, how would my life be affected? How valuable is that infrastructure to my quality of life that I have? How much am I paying for it vs. how important is it to my life?”
57:19 – 58:05: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“It takes the community. When we do project planning we get everyone at the table. The regulators, the public, the board. Lets all sit down at what we’re looking at and what it costs.”