By Jann Wiswall

Mansfield Town Supervisor Bob Keis informed the Town of Mansfield board on Monday, Jan. 16 that he has had several questions from town residents about their recent tax bills.

As reported in the fall, the Mansfield board approved a 2017 budget that increased the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value from $4.73 to $5.10, or 7.8 percent. The county tax bills, however, cited a 10 percent increase.

Keis explained that the county’s 10 percent figure relates to the increase in actual dollars to be collected in 2017, not the rate per $1,000 of assessed property value. The county’s figure includes new homes on the tax rolls, the new assessed value of home improvements, etc.

The increase allows the town to strengthen its fiscal health by building the unappropriated fund balance. NY State described the town as “fiscally stressed,” due to its low fund balance.

The bulk of Monday’s meeting dealt with the annual approval of town policies and officials’ posts and duties for 2017. There were no significant changes to the makeup of town officials or their assignments.

Town board meetings will continue to be held on the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. except for the February 2017 meeting, which will be held a week early.

The board reapproved the town’s procurement policy, but Keis let the board know that the policy needs to be updated before being reapproved in 2018.

Three members of the Town Planning Board were reappointed to seven-year terms: Nate Hammond, Annie Widger and Al Stocker. Stocker and Tracy Hamlett were reappointed to five- year terms on the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Keis noted that he and Town Clerk Betty Jane Horning will look at the reappointment schedule for both boards to ensure that term endings are staggered to ensure continuity. The board will be informed if term adjustments are recommended.

In other business, the board accepted the 2016 annual report from Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer Gil Wiswall. The report is a summary of actions taken and permits issued on behalf of the town.

Town resident (and former highway superintendent candidate) Jeff Williams attended the board meeting and complained that some town roads were in bad shape after last week’s heavy storm, which dumped an inch of rain and melted several feet of snow. He argued that the highway department should do more preventive work, such as breaking into snowplow piles to open ditches.

Highway Superintendent Brad Hurley pointed out that opening ditches “can backfire,” noting that trucks can get stuck in ditches and that water can escape tunnels that typically form under snow banks. Some roads that are on the list for future improvements, he acknowledged, had problems, but many others fared well, thanks to efforts over the past several years.

“We’re gaining ground,” he said. “It’s getting better every year.”

During his report to the board, Hurley explained that one of the town’s dump trucks needs a new frame, which would give the vehicle another several years of life and make it functional during the summer. The board authorized Hurley to advertise for bids on the job. Bids will be opened at the March meeting.

The next meeting of the Town of Mansfield board will be held one week early, on Monday, Feb. 13. As usual, the meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the town hall in Eddyville.