CAROGA — The Caroga Town Board on Wednesday voted 4-1 on each of three resolutions authorizing the town to borrow a combined $1.6 million for the purpose of constructing a town barn, a golf course storage and maintenance facility, and a salt/storage facility.
The capital projects represent the largest borrowing the town has done at one time, and the first significant step towards improving the town’s facilities since the original town barn was built 70 years ago, and Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course, constructed in 1929.
“A bond was issued for the building of the golf course, and then I don’t know how they paid for the highway department barn,” Caroga Town Supervisor Scott Horton said. “But that’s been it. The town hall was donated to the town by the [Wheelerville Union Free School] to the town for $1, 30 years ago, and we haven’t put any money into it.”
A supermajority of the Town Board, at least four votes, is required to approve the town going into the bond market for the issuance of serial bonds to pay for capital projects, unless the majority of voters approve the borrowing through a referendum vote.
At Wednesday’s meeting, which was attended by more than 50 people either in-person or virtually, Horton and Board members John Glenn, Ricky Sturgess and Donald Travis all voted in favor of each of the bond resolutions, while Barbara Deluca voted against all three.
Horton said he believes it likely that there will be an effort to block the borrowing via a petition for a permissive referendum.
“I’ve talked about these projects for months and months, and I’ve done three public presentations to private groups about the plan,” Horton said. “We’ve done public presentations at Town Board meetings with the architect, but I know there are some people, as their always are, who will have objections, and if the voters us to [have a referendum] we’re certainly happy to do that, but I think we’re justified. The town barn is over 70 years old.”
These are the amounts for each of the three bond resolutions approved by the board:
- $1 million — For the construction of a new town barn, highway department garage.
- $450,000 — For a golf course storage and maintenance facility.
- $107,000 — For a salt/sand storage building.
“The old town barn is being replaced for several reasons,” Horton said. “One reason is we cannot do maintenance on the [highway department] vehicles if we have to raise the bed of the trucks, so six months out of the year we’re working outside to fix these things. The second thing, which is very disconcerting to me, is there’s only one door [for the current barn/highway garage], so if during an emergency for some reason the first piece of equipment doesn’t start, the other vehicles can not respond because they’d be blocked in.”
Horton said the cost of tearing off the roof of the existing town barn and renovating it would cost close to the same amount as building a new one.
“We need that space for the [new golf] clubhouse that we want to put in anyway,” Horton said. “So we took our [original idea of building a] club house/town hall combined, which we had called the municipal center, and these other three projects and we split it into two phases.”
Horton said phase one of his plan is to build the new town barn/highway department garage, then the golf course shed and then the salt/storage facility to bring the town into compliance with a 2008 consent order settlement with the New York state Dept. of Environmental Conservation.
“Right now we’re renting space for all of the new equipment that we purchased for the golf course,” he said, explaining why the golf course shed is needed. “We purchased close to $400,000 worth of new golf course equipment that was burned up in the fire [in November 2020], and we have to have secure storage for that. We have 30 golf carts that we are storing outside under the pavilion, so we’d like to a majority of those inside as well. And secondly we’re 14 years late on this DEC consent order, and lastly a new [town barn] highway department garage is something highway superintendents have been talking about for years and years, but nobody’s done anything about it, and we need the parking.”
The town must now publish legal notices in The Leader-Herald for each of the bond measures, activating a 30-day time limit during which town residents seeking to block the debt borrowing can circulate a petition for a permissive referendum that would enable the majority of voters to decide the issue of whether or not the town should borrow the money for the three projects. Horton said the number of signatures is based on a percentage of the number of town residents who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election, and he thinks the requirement is approximately 30 signatures.