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Canaan board handles busy new year agenda

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CANAAN–Town Supervisor Richard Keaveney led the Town Board through discussion and action at the town’s annual audit meeting, a cable franchise application from Consolidated Communications, possible acquisition of the Sanservo property for preservation, and plans for demolition of a local property owned by June Arkin and inhabited illegally by a squatter.

Consolidated Communications purchased Berkshire Cable and is seeking a cable franchise in the Town of Canaan. Consolidated officials were unaware of local franchise taxes paid to municipalities and has not responded to a request for a contract.

Spectrum, a subsidiary of Charter Communications, pays a 5% franchise tax locally generating $6,000 to $7,000 from 250-275 customers. New Lebanon also charges 5%, while Hudson charges 3%.

Councilperson Brenda Adams suggested the need for contract templates, and noted the paucity of information on the number of subscribers being served. Supervisor Keaveney noted the demand for broadband internet access by homeowners in Canaan, often from New York City.

In other business at the February 18 meeting:

• Deborah Sanservo approached the town about acquiring her property near Town Hall, perhaps for use as a conservation zone. The family is having second thoughts and is exploring other options, even though the land cannot be developed in any manner

• The board heard that sales tax receipts are up 8% in Columbia County. Receipts grew from $800,000 to over $1 million, which local officials see as an indication that people want to come to Columbia County and spend their money here

• The NYSEG Lime Light Replacement project has been completed the utility company supplying $2,200, with the new lights expected to last 15years at an annual savings of $1,200

• Highway Superintendent Bernhard Meyer noted that this has been the worst weather experienced during his tenure. The February meltdown and yoyo temperatures wreak havoc on roads and equipment with ice flows, muddy ruts and broken graders. One grader lost its teeth with a replacement cost of $1,500.

Canaan has 50 miles of roads to maintain, including 40 miles of dirt roads. Approximately 1,500 tons of fill and salt have been used to date. The Highway Department has hired a new CDL driver, replaced a full-bay-size heater with a more efficient table-size heater, and resurrected a lunch room

• The state is mandating 811 training to avoid accidental damage to underground cable. Staff will be required to take a four-hour course at a cost of $25 to be certified for four years. Penalties are $2,500 for first violation and $15,000 for a second violation. Excavation within 24” of an underground cable has to be done using shovels, rather than motorized equipment

•The Town Board approved a number of appointments and an agreement with the Town of Hillsdale and Village of Philmont to share equally the costs of a Code Enforcement Officer, with the Town of Canaan serving as the administrator for the agreement. An inter-municipal highway agreement with Columbia County, Austerlitz, Chatham, New Lebanon, and Ghent was approved for 2019.

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