Starting off this year with the best intentions of success for our community, we were pretty much hit right out of the gate with the Covid-19 pandemic. Although as the way of doing things for everyone had changed, from court closures, building closures, school closures, job loss and furloughs, higher state mandates and loss of state funding, we were still able to work on making Cairo a better place for all. Far to often, it is easier to see what we didn’t do, rather than to see what we have accomplished. So we have compiled a list of accomplishments for 2020, and a list of goals for 2021.
One of our key points upon taking office was to increase the amount of communication and assistance between the town departments. This has proven to serve the community well. Not only did the sidewalk project get completed with the help of our highway department, it came in under budget and on time. Also, our highway department did a great job of turning Dinger road (Mountaineer Trail) into a walking path for our community to enjoy.
With the need to maintain the safety of our residents while enjoying the town park, we had an updated security camera system installed. These new security cameras cover the town hall and library as well.
As many of you are aware, there was an abundance of vehicles and equipment, in various stages of age and dis-repair accumulating at the highway department. This un-used equipment was catalogued and auctioned off thus bringing in some additional revenue for the town.
As our town buildings age, major repairs need to be done from time to time. Such is the case with the library building. The HVAC system had failed over the summer which could have endangered the integrity and condition of the books housed inside. The board not only took the steps needed to overhaul the HVAC system, but also set it up on a normal service schedule to insure against future breakdowns.
We continue to monitor the progress of the water project in the park and the testing of our water supply for the presence of PFOA’s, which at this point is well below state guidelines.
We have streamlined the town infrastructure in such a way that there is better communication for the needs of our departments through the use of work orders, handled by buildings and grounds. Out of office monthly reports have also been created for those employees who utilize town owned vehicles in order to track service needs of the vehicles, fuel usage, mileage, and accountability in an effort to maintain the integrity of these departments. The police and highway departments continue to maintain their own records.
In an effort to maintain the best ambulance service that our town can offer, we approved the purchase of one new ambulance in 2020, with a second one currently being looked at for 2021. The next ambulance removed from service will most likely be transferred to another department, possibly water and sewer.
We have been encouraging more partnerships between the town and non-profit entities such as the Cairo chamber of commerce, with the common goal of improving life in our community. It is our hope that these partnerships will make our community more attractive to future residents and small businesses.
As the future holds a lot of new technology pertaining to energy resources, we are looking at ways to lower community electric costs, such as community solar projects, and replacing the kerosene generator at the power sub-station with a state of the art battery back-up unit.
An ongoing problem that every community has is properties that are not properly taken care of. Whether they be owned by a lending institution or out of town land lord. New York State does have a law on the books addressing this, but the enforcement of it is near impossible at a town level by our code enforcement officer. Therefore, we adopted a town law that mirrors the New York state law in order to ease the job of the town code enforcement officer by decreasing the amount of time required to bring each individual case into compliance.
A second local law adopted applies to parking. Before the local law was put in place, our local law enforcement could not ticket illegally parked vehicles in handicapped zones unless the driver returned to their vehicle while the officer was present. If enforced this way, it would take up more time away from the officer’s other duties. This new law not only changes this outcome, but also lays a framework for any future parking adjustments that may be needed in the future as our community grows. Any future parking adjustments can only be made with a resolution from the town board.
This town board has also added a second meeting every month. It has been set up as a workshop meeting in order to hear presentations from parties offering services to improve the town, as well as a forum for public comment. These workshop meetings are publicized as prescribed by law and town business can be conducted and resolutions offered as long as there is a quorum, three or more board members present.
As the town looks to pay off the existing bond for the sewer project, the total owed for the project has decreased to the point where the EDU’s could be lowered significantly. In an emergency meeting late in November 2020, the board heard from the water and sewer department heads with the new billing amount for EDU’s, which was a significant decrease. The board voted to get these reduced before the next quarterly billing in order to provide some financial relief for our community.
As with every budget season, it was very difficult to come to a decision that would benefit our taxpayers, but in the age of Covid…. we did it! We were faced with major cost increases from the state for worker’s comp and un-employment insurance, a rise in medical insurance, plus lower revenues in some departments for being closed down for so long. In working with the budget very carefully, we were able to not only stay within the 1.5 percent tax cap, but actually were able to lower the tax payer contribution by ten cents per thousand!
As we now look forward to 2021, we are already working on goals to further improve our community. The first being to increase the meeting attendance of town board members to one hundred percent. Placing a new senior center in the town park, complete with an exercise and recreation center, and adding on to the children’s play area with specialized equipment for children with special needs are additional plans we have for the park. We also want to continue work on the Mountaineer trail and see it to the level of completion.
As you can all see, we are on track for some upcoming, exciting times for our community. We encourage the community to stay informed and up to date by adding the town website to your favorites list. https://townofcairo.com/ or visit us on Facebook.
Thank you to all for allowing us to serve you!
The New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF) is a new economic recovery loan program aimed at supporting New York State small businesses, including MWBEs, nonprofits, and small landlords that have been excluded by other relief and recovery efforts, as they reopen after the COVID-19 outbreak and NYS on PAUSE.
The NYFLF targets the state’s small businesses with 20 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees (90% of all businesses), nonprofits, and small landlords that have seen a loss of rental income. The NYFLF is specifically timed to support businesses and organizations as they proceed to reopen and have upfront expenses to comply with guidelines (e.g., inventory, marketing, refitting for new social distancing guidelines) under the New York Forward Plan.