Category: Information

Why New Paltz Needs Students to Register and Vote

Why New Paltz Needs Students to Register and Vote

This Op Ed appeared in the October 5, 2017 edition of The Oracle

Voter Registration Deadline: Friday, October 13

By Jane Schanberg

After decades as a take-no-sides journalist I’m coming out — politically. I call it my DIY Change plan. I’m tired of merely liking political posts on Facebook or yelling at the TV when neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville. After many years in neutral, I’ve taken sides and rolled up my sleeves to create do-it-myself change right here in New Paltz.

First, I updated my voter registration so I’d be eligible to vote in local elections. Then I took time to inform myself about village and town issues I consider to be important — like the cost of off-campus housing due to rising taxes, landlord issues, the town’s water problem and economic development controversy. We’re good on the environment and green spaces — no worries there.

And I was one of the 829 residents who showed up to vote in the Democratic primary on September 12 — although more than 5,200 registered citizens were eligible.

Local politicians lauded the primary turnout as large (The Oracle, Sept. 14) and perhaps by past standards it was.

Yet this primary drew a mere 15 to 18 percent of eligible voters and only 150 or so SUNY New Paltz students among the thousands on campus. I view that turnout as tragically low — particularly among the student population. When participation in the community and on campus is so slight, too few people end up making laws and decisions that impact all our lives. It seems many people would complain about how things are rather than vote for how things could be.

Many activist groups in the area are working hard to increase voter registration and participation. Since SUNY New Paltz contributes significantly to the towns’ population, students becoming active citizens who vote — instead of passive citizens who demur — would go a long way towards helping to improve the future of our community and our country.

To that end, here’s an important fact about New York State: registration to vote in the Nov. 7 election has a cut-off date — Oct 13. If you’ve moved since you last registered it’s essential to update your address with the Ulster County Board of Elections. (You may recall first-daughter Ivanka Trump’s embarrassment when she could not vote for her own dad in the 2016 New York primary because didn’t know about the voter registration cut off date).

The New York State Board of Elections has a website: https://www.elections.ny.gov. Their voting deadlines page explains how and where to register to vote. It gives the deadlines and qualifications. It also provides a download for the mail-in form both in English and Spanish.

Voting is the first step each of us can take towards the meaningful change we need. That starts Nov. 7 at the local and county level and includes four propositions on the ballot that require some reading. One, the proposed New York State Constitutional Convention, is especially controversial.

Next year we elect a Congressman to represent our district NY 19 in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. That’s another huge choice, as many know, because it impacts the future of health care, immigration, voting rights, minority rights, climate and the environment.

I live across the street and two doors down from campus. You guys are my neighbors. I know everyone is busy with classes. But I hope you’ll accept this neighborly reminder to register by Oct. 13 (if you haven’t already) and remember to set aside 20 minutes to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 7. In less than half an hour, coming out for DIY Change can make an impact on campus and beyond.

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein Unveils The 2018 County Budget

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein Unveils The 2018 County Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               

October 3, 2017                                                                                

Contact:  exec@co.ulster.ny.us

845-340-3800

ULSTER COUNTY EXECUTIVE MIKE HEIN UNVEILS THE 2018 COUNTY BUDGET THAT REDUCES PROPERTY TAXES AND MAKES MAJOR INVESTMENTS

The 2018 Executive Budget Not Only Reduces Property Taxes But Invests In Ulster County’s Future

Kingston, N.Y. – Keeping with his tradition of delivering his budget addresses at locations with significant relevance to the upcoming financial plan, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein chose a former storage area attached to the Ulster County Probation Department to deliver his 2018 Executive Budget.  The Executive Budget calls for reducing the tax burden again, while simultaneously delivering services and funding to invest in the future of Ulster County’s youth, safety, health and environment. The location of the budget presentation was chosen to allow the public an opportunity to see the space that will be transformed into the Ulster County Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center, an innovative response to New York State’s new ‘Raise the Age’ legislation that will be a division of the probation department and will concentrate on providing specialized services to at risk youth to help change the trajectory of their life for the better.

The highlights of the County Executive’s 2018 $324 million proposed budget include:

Property Tax Relief

Ulster County property taxpayers will see the tax levy go down again this year under County Executive Hein’s 2018 Budget.  The .25% reduction results in a tax levy which is now lower than it was in 2010.  “We have lowered county property taxes in 2013, 14, 15, 16, 17 and now 2018 as well, an unprecedented six years in a row of tax savings for real Ulster County families,” said County Executive Mike Hein. “To put that fact into context- from 2010-2017 Ulster County is the only County in this entire region where the property tax levy is actually lower.”

Ulster County Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center

“I am committed to tackling difficult issues head on and the time has come to bring reform to the adolescent justice system because it simply has not worked.  Teenagers too often end up in a “school to prison pipeline” that is ruining their lives and breaking the hearts of far too many mothers and fathers-  and it doesn’t have to be that way,” stated the County Executive.  The 2018 Ulster County Budget provides funding for a new initiative to provide rehabilitative and restorative justice for adolescents through a new Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center at the Department of Probation.  This Center will provide specialized, evidence based programming specifically targeted at reducing recidivism through the provision of services such as, improving family reintegration, improving mental health and substance abuse services, increasing educational opportunities and providing employment support and training. 

Infrastructure Investment

Ulster County’s historic investment in infrastructure through the highly successful ‘Building A Better Ulster County’ program will continue in 2018 with the dedication of almost $15 million in additional funding, bringing the County Executive’s four year total budgetary commitment to $60 million.  As a result, motorists will see another 65 miles of county roads repaired and repaved in 2018, which means since the program started in 2015 the county will have resurfaced over 71% of all county roads as well as replaced dozens of bridges and culverts.  The county will also begin a new $2.1 million highway traffic safety initiative in 2018 that will improve and upgrade signage on County roads.  “My administration has overhauled the entire Public Works system by investing millions of dollars up front while designing a proactive maintenance schedule to ensure better roads today and greatly reduced chances of unnecessary budget spikes long into the future,” explained County Executive Hein.

Environmental Stewardship

The 2018 Executive Budget continues Ulster County’s role as the most environmentally friendly county in New York State.  Building upon its position as the only county in the state to be net carbon neutral, the 2018 Ulster County Budget includes a new pilot program to lease ten additional green fleet compliant vehicles.  Through this initiative, the County will continue to exceed the green fleet target established through the Green Fleet Policy and ensure that the County stays up to date and current with the latest green fleet technology.  The County Executive reminded audience members, “Whether it is expanding our fleet of alternative fuel vehicles, or building utility scale solar, we are continually focused on clean air and clean water and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels; and in the process we have won countless awards, been featured in National Geographic, but we do it to be responsible to the next generation.”

Water Quality

The 2018 Executive Budget includes funding to provide free well-water testing for qualifying low to moderate income communities through the Department of Health.  In addition, the Ulster County Office for the Environment, in conjunction with the Department of Health, will be designated as the County’s Water Quality Management Agency to oversee water quality initiatives throughout the County.   

Substance Abuse Prevention Programs 

In response to the nation-wide opioid epidemic, the County Executive has included $1.2 million targeted to substance abuse prevention programs.  This includes two new initiatives aimed at combating addiction and substance abuse.  UlsterHelps.org provides a comprehensive, mobile – optimized online guide to treatment, prevention and substance abuse prevention resources.  In addition, the County Executive will be appointing an Intra-Community Substance Use Prevention Task Force to ensure that the County remains on the leading edge in the fight against substance abuse.  This Task Force will bring together medical experts, educators, community leaders, concerned family members and those who have experienced recovery firsthand to continuously evaluate and strengthen programs offered.  

Senior Safety

“We will continue to invest in order to provide exactly the kind of critical services our seniors want, need and deserve; and we will do whatever we can to foster the one great constant our seniors share:  an extremely strong desire to remain independent and in their own homes,” said County Executive Hein.  The 2018 Executive Budget includes funding to eliminate the County’s current waitlist for the Senior Lifeline Medical Assistance program. This program provides seniors with a reliable, 24-hour available device to notify emergency personnel in the event of a fall or other emergency.  Currently, there are 80 people awaiting access to this valuable and potentially lifesaving notification system, this initiative will ensure that all seniors who qualify have access to this program.

“The 2018 Executive Budget represents my strong commitment to the hard-working property taxpayers of Ulster County,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.  “It also represents the realization that we have an obligation to look forward and invest in our future.  Whether that investment is providing the tools necessary to help put our troubled youth on the right path, improving and increasing the safety of our roads and bridges, ensuring access to high quality drinking water, continuing our responsibility to leave our environment better than we found it, helping substance abuse victims and their families, or providing our seniors with peace of mind that we are looking out for their safety, they all represent an investment in community and prosperity.  This budget reduces property taxes again and I am proud to say that the tax levy will be less than it was in 2010 while we continue to provide more services than ever before, make unprecedented infrastructure investments, while also providing for our seniors and those most vulnerable.  I look forward to working with the County Legislature to ensure this budget is passed swiftly in order to continue to protect our hard-working residents.”

2018 Executive Budget Recommendation
($ in millions)
 
 
  2017 Adopted 2018 Executive Change  
Total Appropriations $324.88 $323.97 ($0.91)  
Total Department Revenues $231.65 $234.52 $2.87  
Total County Cost $93.24 $89.45 ($3.79)  
Appropriated Fund Balance $16.34 $12.75 ($3.59)  
Real Property Tax Levy $76.89 $76.70 ($0.19)  

 

For 2018 Executive Budget Documents please visit: http://ulstercountyny.gov/budget/.