The goal of this newsletter is to share a bit of local news and shine a spotlight on the interesting things that are happening  in Hillsdale and nearby.

A Magnolia for Jan Keefner

On Saturday, November 3, the Town will dedicate a handsome Magnolia tree at Town Hall to honor the many contributions of Jan Keefner, Hillsdale's Court Clerk and staff member for 30 years.  Jan died in December 2018.  All are welcome to join us at noon.

2019 Budget

A Budget Hearing will take place on Tuesday, November 6, at 6:30, at Town Hall to review the 2019 budget.

Revaluation Update

The Town Assessor reminds us that, within the next couple of months, property owners will receive their 2019 property assessment.   (A few commercial properties and farms still need to be evaluated.)  Data reports that were returned have been reviewed and parcels updated where needed.  In some cases, a return visit was necessary to verify a major discrepancy.

Notices of the new assessments are scheduled to be sent in the beginning of January. The estimated market value will be clearly printed on the notice. Though it will not tell you how much your taxes will be, it will provide the estimated market value.  The school, town and county determine the tax rates each year. Revaluations address the value of property, not taxes and are designed to  create a fair distribution of taxes.  

Broadband Update

Hillsdale's Broadband Committee continues to monitor the buildout of fiber optic high-speed internet service in Hillsdale. Here's the committee's update.

Safe at Home Committee

Early this year, the Hillsdale Town Board created a new committee, "Safe at Home" to help our seniors who want to age safely at home and need information about resources and services that can help.

The committee recently mailed to every household in Hillsdale a resource booklet, put together by this committee.  It provides information that we hope will be useful.

Many thanks to the Safe at Home Committee for stepping up and doing this. As one resident wrote:  " We have been residents of Hillsdale since 2005 and received the "Safe at Home" packet the other day.    We just wanted to tell you what a great idea it was to put something together for those residents in Hillsdale who are growing older and want to stay at home.  Many elderly residents don't know what resources are available to them and the booklet that was sent out outlined many agencies they can reach out to."
If you're not a senior or not in need of these resources, we ask that you share the information with your neighbors who are seniors!

2019 STAR Exemption Changes
Enhanced Star Exemption
To receive the Enhanced Star exemption, you are now required to enroll in the Income verification program (IVP). You only need to enroll once and you will receive the exemption automatically, if eligible, each year thereafter.
In this first year (2019), your income will need to be verified by the assessor, but in subsequent years, it will be verified by the NYS Tax Department. This means you cannot miss the deadline for filing and you will no longer need to provide your income tax returns to the assessor.   NYS will contact you directly if anything is required.
If you are already enrolled in the IVP program, you do not need to do anything. No forms or renewals are required. If you received the enhanced star last year, and are not enrolled in the IVP program, you will receive a renewal form and the IVP application in the mail from me.  
If you are a new homeowner or first time STAR applicant, you must register for the STAR credit directly with the NYS Tax Department
Senior Citizen Exemption

In the past, senior citizens, who qualified for the  senior citizen exemption, were automatically granted the enhanced STAR exemption.

Due to changes in New York State law, beginning with applications for 2019, seniors must apply separately for both the senior citizen exemption and the enhanced STAR exemption. If you received the senior exemption last year, you will receive a renewal application along with the other required forms in the mail from me.    

You can obtain forms by contacting Pam Cook, Town Assessor, or you can download application forms for both the enhanced star and senior citizen exemptions from  this page.
Deadline and Other Key Dates
March 1          Exemption filing deadlines
March 1          Taxable Status Date
May 1              Tentative roll is filed
May 30           Grievance day
July 1              Final Roll and Valuation Day
September 1  School bills sent
January 1       Town/County/special district bills sent

For more information, contact Pam Cook, Hillsdale Town Assessor.

The Roe Jan Food Pantry is moving into the basement of the old Town Hall, aka Columbia County Sheriff Substation later this month. Staffed by a group of dedicated volunteers across many organizations in the community, it feeds and supports those who need help all year long - thanks to the financial assistance and food donations from all of us. 
If you'd like to help with this year's Thanksgiving rush, please meet at the Hillsdale Fire House at 9 am on Saturday, November 18.  You'll be put to work for an hour or so with lots of other volunteers to help pack Thanksgiving dinner boxes for more than 150 local families.
If you can't pack boxes, how about dropping off some supplies? Cereal, soup, and frozen turkeys are still needed! Call Vernetta Moore at 325-5773 or Betty White at 325-3977 for more information.

The Hillsdale historians tackle the story of our century-old fire company below: 

The Internet is amazing. You start out looking for one thing, only to find something else so fascinating it sucks up the hours you were planning to spend on the first thing.

This happens to us a lot. This week we were researching historic buildings in the Hillsdale Hamlet. No sooner had we typed "Dimmick's" into Google than up popped "Our History & Past Chiefs," a page from the Hillsdale Fire Company website. The page was compiled from handwritten notes delivered at the fire company's 75th Anniversary Open House in 1993, which makes 2018 the Hillsdale Fire Company's centenary. Happy 100th Anniversary, Hillsdale Fire Company!


If you're into plants, don't miss the updated  Checklist of Plants of Columbia County on the Farmscape Ecology Program website. This checklist, which continues to be a work in progress, includes new plants discovered in the County since it first posted it in 2014, a re-evaluation of the rarity and invasiveness of plant species in the County, and an update of the nomenclature. It features more than 1,500 species of wild-growing plants in Columbia County, a quarter of which are plants that have been introduced from other continents (mostly Eurasia), or from southern or western regions of North America, and 64 of these non-native plants are classified as invasive in our region.
More than half of the native species are rare or uncommon in the County.  Photo above: 
Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry).
Checklist of Plants of Columbia County

The Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market launches its first "Winter Market" on November 3rd. This special edition market will run every Saturday through December 22nd. It will be held in the same location as the regular season, the Harvest Barn in the Roe Jan Park, but the hours are shifted to 10 am to 2 pm.

For more information, email
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is working with the City of Hudson's Conservation Advisory Council to comprehensively think about water resource issues in the Taghkanic Creek watershed. As part of this work, TNC would like to engage the upstream towns of Taghkanic, Copake, Claverak, and Hillsdale to understand their vision and concerns for Taghkanic Creek and its watershed. Taghkanic Creek is an integral part of all these communities, Copake, Taghkanic, Claverack, Hillsdale, and Hudson.

Did you know, however, that the creek, its tributaries and head water lakes, and the watershed community are facing several water resource problems including algal blooms, water quality degradation, and inadequate flows during dry periods?

To that end, we would love for you, and any others you would like to invite, to join us at a Water for Tomorrow community event at the Copake Grange, Copake, NY on November 4, 2018 from 1-3 pm. This Water for Tomorrow event is a chance to voice your vision and concerns for Taghkanic Creek and its watershed. The Nature Conservancy invites you to come play a fun collaborative water themed board game, eat snacks, and talk about the future of Taghkanic Creek.


Polls will be open at the Hillsdale Fire House from 6 am to 9 pm, just north of the traffic light on Route 22.  Registered voters who are out of town on the 6th can vote in what's called "Over-the-Counter Absentee Voting." Just show up at the Board of Elections at 401 State Street in Hudson on  Saturday, November 3, from 9 am to noon and cast your ballot.
Thanks for reading this newsletter.   If you want to promote your upcoming event on the Hillsdale calendar, share an old photo, or write an article or two, I'd love to hear from you.
Peter Cipkowski, Town Supervisor and Town Crier