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More money needed to close open space deals
On Tuesday, the Town Board heard a formal recommendation from Peter Vielbig of the town Community Preservation Fund (CPF) committee (also know as the two-percent committee) to bond for the funds as soon as possible. “The inevitability of two contracts we have signed are approaching,” he said. Town funds from the two-percent real estate transfer tax are adequate to cover the $3.6 million cost of purchasing half of the Klenawicus property (an acquisition approved by the board in 2006), but a closing on the Brandenstein property is also expected soon. The town will need $1.8 million to meet these obligations should both purchases close at the end of the year.
And it can borrow the money without impacting the town budget if 2-percent revenues’ sales reach or exceed $6 million annually. In 2007, the town authorized borrowing up to $15 million for open space purchases through bonding, which would be paid back with incoming revenues from the transfer tax. The town’s authority to bond for open space has never been exercised before.
Working with Michael Coles and Peter Munson of the committee, Mr. Vielbig developed “our cautious and conservative approach to borrowing.” The $1.8 million total would include all bond administration costs, estimated at $30,000, and would be paid over 20 years at 3.25 percent interest. So long as $6 million worth of real estate is sold each year, the town will bring in over $100,000 annually, more than enough to cover its bond payments.
Preservation funds will be adequate, Mr. Vielbig said, to cover a purchase of development rights at Sylvester Manor in mid-2011. But once that’s paid off, the committee is recommending that the town set funds aside to build a reserve of CPF monies.
Should new properties become available for preservation “we would entertain anything,” Mr. Vielbig added. “We’re not shutting down, we’re constantly looking but we’ll have financial restrictions.”
While a financing plan has been laid out, questions remained as to who in town government must take the next step. Town Attorney Laury Dowd said she is working with bond counsel contracted by the town, who will need a certification of the town’s good faith and credit from Supervisor Dougherty. A Town Board resolution is expected to authorize the $1.8 million in bonds; a special meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 1 at 1 p.m. for this purpose.
“We’ve got to get this thing going,” said Councilman Glenn Waddington, who serves as liaison to the two-perc ent committee. “It will be five years in February,” Judy Brandenstein commented on her family’s efforts to complete an open space deal.
“If it’s humanly possible to do it this year, we’ll do it this year,” Mr. Dougherty said.
Peter Vielbig contacted the Reporter after this story went to press to explain that only three years’ worth of bond payments would be set aside in a reserve fund, not three years’ worth of two percent revenues.