By NICOLE GUGINO
OBSERVER Assistant News Editor
HANOVER - 2012 marked several accomplishments for newly elected Hanover Supervisor Todd Johnson and the town board. As the new year begins, the board has many plans.
Hanover Supervisor Todd Johnson
Upon being sworn in on Jan. 4, 2012, Johnson told the OBSERVER his goals were "maintaining infrastructure, public safety and lowering the cost."
Some of 2012's completed projects go along with this.
Johnson said one of the projects completed this year was the creation of a new parking area at the end of Alleghany Road in Sunset Bay. This project made the area safer by allowing space for emergency vehicles to get out to the breakwall and eliminating parking in a difficult patrol area for sheriff's deputies, while maintaining some of the parking and creating handicap parking.
Johnson was also proud to report the town board was able to keep taxes low with just a "minimal increase." Despite the unexpected change in the way workers' compensation would be billed by the county, the town was able to increase its tax rate only 2.3 percent including the $61,000 workers' comp increase, a total of $8.90 per $1,000 increase, $5.34 of which was for workers' comp.
Johnson was also proud of the town's celebration of its bicentennial.
"We celebrated our bicentennial which was a pretty big deal in the town. I would like to commend all the efforts of the board and our Historian Vince Martonis and the previous administration for getting it started with the five celebratory markers. Also with the presentations we had here, Vince went above and beyond to make it a memorable occasion for everybody within the town," he said.
In 2013, Johnson is still sticking with his goals of improving infrastructure and keeping costs down.
"I would like to thank this board for a very productive (2012). We've had some great accomplishments. We got our sights all planned out for the upcoming year on some projects we want to do, some initiatives for cost reductions and savings to the taxpayers ... Thank you (board members and Clerk Janine Salzman) for all your support and it really got me through the first year ... We have a lot of good things in the works that will benefit the town," he said.
He explained the board recently authorized an engineering agreement with GHD for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant.
"The board gave me permission to enter into an agreement with GHD engineering firm to do $5.3 million in improvements and upgrades to our wastewater facility and our pump stations in Sunset Bay. That is going to be at a zero-dollar increase to the residents in the sewer district. The town sewer fund will be able to sustain the project and to pay for it with anticipated revenues and some borrowing over a 30-year time period, we'll be able to maintain those rates," he explained.
He also said the board has plans for paving roads and improving the town beach and pavilion to make it more community oriented.
Johnson added there is one project which was held over from 2012 which is still a top priority for the board.
Sunset Bay residents from Michigan and Pleasant avenues have attended meetings many times over the past year to complain of storm water drainage problems stemming from runoff on Route 5/20 into the bay.
Although progress was made in making plans for drainage lines and a hydrological study was completed, hold ups with the DEC and a pivotal easement held up projects until next year.
The town has since received the permit to dredge parson's pond but is still waiting on the easement in the hopes the project will start in the spring.
"That is priority number one. This board is committed along with (Highway Superintendent Steve) D'Angelo and the other folks who have been helping to make it a number one priority. This board came through on our word on rectifying the situation at the end of Alleghany Road and come hell or high water, no pun intended, we are going to get this done ... hopefully by spring," he added.