City of Kingston Requests Additional Outreach for Citizen’s Potentially at Risk in EJ Area For Proposed Power Plant Project

By Rebecca Martin

Last evening, the Kingston Common Council unanimously passed Resolution No. 227 “Requesting an (Enhanced) Public Participation Plan for Lincoln Park LLC (also known as GlidePath and/or the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center) as per the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Policy (CP) 29.” This relates directly to a fossil fuel peak energy power plant being proposed in the Town of Ulster, where only 1.3 miles away (and downwind) is Kingston’s Rondout that includes an environmental justice area identified by the DEC.

What’s this all about and why is it significant?

For the last 12 months, KingstonCitizens.org – along with our environmental and citizen partners – have been following the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process for the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center, a 20 MW natural gas fired generation plant with diesel backup and battery storage project being proposed in the Town of Ulster, NY.

VIEW “Toolkit and Video: Residents of Ulster County and “G” Zone Counties: Temporary Moratorium on Fossil Fuel Power Plants to Address Zoning. 

During the public scoping process, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in its “Comments on Draft Scope” (March 20th, 2018) for the proposed “power plant” under Air Resources stated that, “Air Permit Applications are subject to the Department’s Environmental Justice Policy (CP-29).”

The intent of the Commissioner’s Policy (CP) requires the applicant to incorporate environmental justice into the permitting process and prepare a Public Participation Plan.

Kingston’s Environmental Justice area that was identified as being potentially impacted (in Rondout, Kingston, only 1.3 miles South of the proposed project location) would be provided with sufficient time, tools, and the opportunity to clearly voice, and have their comments be considered.

On July 23rd, 2018, Mayor Steve Noble wrote a letter to Kelly Turturro (DEC Region 3) as a follow-up, asking that the DEC “…send a written notice to the applicant requesting that it immediately commence compliance with the requirements of the Department’s Environmental Justice Policy, as specific in the Department’s March 20, 2018 Comments on Draft Scope.”

Process Steps:  Passing Resolution No. 227.

As we awaited an update from the DEC and GlidePath on this matter, on October 29, 2018 KingstonCitizens.org asked that the Kingston Common Council amplify the Mayor’s request and also ask that the DEC direct the applicant to prepare and submit an enhanced Participation Plan for review and approval, so that it can be implemented before the public comment on the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) is opened – which we are expecting to be delivered at any time.

VIEW: Page 1 of request
VIEW: Page 2 of request

The process steps included getting the item on the Public Safety Committee agenda for November for discussion. The resolution language was looked over by Kingston’s Corporation Council, and sent out of committee to caucus where it went to the floor to be voted on last night – and passed unanimously.

It was a great night for this item to be on the agenda, too, as we also got to witness the Municipal ID program as well as the Mayor’s 2019 Municipal budget all pass unanimously.  We’d like to thank our elected and appointed officials and staff alike for their thoughtful leadership and hard work.

Part One
18:20 – 21:40
Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org

                  Click on image for testimony.

37:15 – 38:40
Sue Rosenberg, CAPP-NY

48:55 – 51:33
Iris Marie Bloom, CAPP-NY


Part Two
Local Law of 2018 Municipal ID Program passes unanimously

Part Three

Resolution #220 to approve the city’s general fund budget for the fiscal year 2019, as Amended.

8:58 – 11:30
Ward 2 Alderman Doug Koop (Chair of Finance Committee)
11:34 – 14:06
Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott Childress (Majority Leader)
14:08 – 15:01
Ward 9 Alderwoman Andrea Shaut15:02 – 17:19
Ward 5 Alderman Bill Carey17:24 – 18:08
Ward 7 Alderman Patrick O’Reilly
Resolution is adopted 9/0
Resolution #227 requesting public participation for lincoln park llc per dec policy 29 

23:57 – 27:13
Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis

Resolution is adopted 9/0

Council Votes Tonight. Support the City of Kingston 2017 Municipal Budget.

By Rebecca Martin
The 2017 City of Kingston Budget passes unanimously out of Finance Committee on 11/28. Those in favor include Doug Koop, Rennie Scott-Childress, Tony Davis, Steven Schabot and Deborah Brown.
The 2017 City of Kingston Budget passes unanimously out of Finance Committee on 11/28. Those in favor include Doug Koop, Rennie Scott-Childress, Tony Davis, Steven Schabot and Deborah Brown.

This year, we have witnessed many unprecedented, positive changes in the city of Kingston. One of which was a whole new way of engaging the community with a budget forum held at Kingston City Hall in August as well as an online survey where citizens had the opportunity to voice in on the Mayor’s 2017 municipal budget.

Soon after, the finance committee met on a weekly basis for about six weeks to interview department heads who unveiled their department’s needs.  To be thorough, Kingston Mayor Noble also requested a special committee meeting to discuss special events, fees and to respond to any other concerns raised about the budget. I can’t recall a time when I have seen such transparent and collaborative efforts made between all elected and appointed officials in the City of Kingston.

After hours upon hours of research and discussion, the finance passed the city’s 2017 budget out of committee and on to last evening’s council caucus (12/5). Its fate is now in the hands of our entire common council who will vote to pass the budget or not this evening (12/6).

Some say that the 2017 COK budget is the first in decades where a balanced budget has been achieved that also includes a tax cut.  It’s a forward thinking document; one that places the COK on solid footing for the future.

The highlights include a tax levy of $17,650,940, which is a $0 increase from 2016. What’s really exciting is that it slowly addresses the long-standing issue of the homestead / non-homestead, decreasing the homestead tax rate from $10.16 per thousand to $10.10 per thousand and the non-homestead tax rate from $18.31 per thousand to $18.13 per thousand.  Items such as raises were determined through a multi-member committee. It was a long and well-vetted analysis, using comparable salaries from similar communities. The result moves toward fair pay for all (for both male and female employees alike) and gives Kingston a competitive edge when openings become available in attracting the best and the brightest.

The city will continue to provide extensive services at a cost effective rate, too. You’d be hard pressed to find a private hauler for the price that most are paying through the City of Kingston’s Department of Public Works. We know how important that is to Kingstonians.

BRINGING SOME CLARITY AND UNDERSTANDING TO POTENTIAL DEBATE THIS EVENING. 

With ample time for discussion throughout the estimated three-month process, we still expect several items to come to the floor this evening for debate. Below, we’ve tried to pull together a little background to help citizens follow along.

Hiring a part-time clerk for Kingston’s Common Council.

A part time common council clerk position was implemented to assist the council in their administrative needs. This would include creating timely agendas, minutes and even audio recordings of all caucus and council meetings.  It’s the sort of thing that we have been advocating for since we began this work in 2006. It’s an exciting prospect for all citizens. 

1) In the City of Kingston’s charter, the city clerk (who is appointed by the mayor) manages all “records, documents and other papers for the city”.  Their role also includes being the council’s clerk without any detail outside of going to monthly council meetings.  In other words, a single position is to maintain the needs of both the executive and legislative branches of government, the latter to a degree.

2) Some believe that it makes sense for our common council (legislative branch) to have its own PT clerk that can work independently of our city clerk (executive branch).  It may avoid any potential conflicts as to how much time is applied where given that the city clerk position is appointed by Kingston’s Mayor.

What are some of the concerns? 

As we understand it, Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills wants the council to move the $16,000 allotted amount towards an asset management ‘manager’ position.

1) To date, the City of Kingston is awaiting recommendations from Barton and Loguidice, LLC, the consultant hired to provide the city with an asset management gap assessment several years ago. In 2015, recommendations in three phases were made to move Kingston toward adopting a citywide asset management software system. Long term maintenance and sustainability may be part of phase three, which could give the city a better understanding of the role an asset management ‘manager’ could play, including their qualifications and pay.  Some say that without this critical information, making any determinations on what and how to fund this position is premature.

2) There are also other key variables that would come into play, such as a grant that was written to cover a fleet manager position and that would manage all vehicles in the city. Kingston should learn if they have secured this grant soon and if so, the position might reduce the responsibilities of a future asset manager.

Making Kingston’s Corporation Council a full-time position. 

Historically, Kingston’s Corporation Council has been a part-time position, allowing those appointments to work for the City of Kingston while also maintaining a private practice. Although at a glance, none of which is reflected in Kingston’s charter.

1) Kingston’s Corporation Council is another appointment made by the mayor, serving at his/her pleasure. In the charter, it states that: “The Corporation Counsel shall be the primary legal advisor to the Mayor, Common Council and of all commissions, departments and other offices of the city. The Corporation Counsel shall conduct, supervise or monitor, as required, the prosecution and defense of all actions or proceedings brought by or against the city or by or against any of its officers in their official capacity and appeal from all such orders, decisions and judgments as he or she deems advisable.”

That’s a pretty large list of responsibilities for part-time council. As a side note, and if their position is indeed 20 hours, what happens when/if they have not choice but to go over their allotment of time?

2) Some believe that it isn’t realistic or fair to expect corporation council’s full attention to city matters when they are also being pulled by a necessary private practice.  Others suggest that in addition, maintaining both private and public work in tandem could open up the possibility of conflicts of interest (especially in a small city such as Kingston).

We support the 2017 City of Kingston Municipal Budget. 

We appreciate the mayor, common council, all Kingston city departments and citizens for their hard work since the summer to craft such an exemplary budget for Kingston. Their efforts deserve our wholehearted support.  We encourage citizens to sign-up to speak tonight at Kingston City Hall (420 Broadway, Council Chambers at 7:30 pm) in favor of passing the 2017 City of Kingston municipal budget through council. In doing so, we are placing our best foot forward as we go into the new year.