Let's talk, let's listen
Public comment on Legislature’s proposed bill to advance the establishment of Town of Palm Tree set for May 21

By Nancy Kriz
MONROE — The Monroe Town Board has asked its attorney to review the Home Rule request bill from the state Legislature to accelerate the creation of the Town of Palm Tree by a year and set May 21 for public comment about it.
The board briefly discussed the bill during its May 7 meeting, which would allow Kiryas Joel's separation from Monroe to take place a year earlier.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Woodbury) and state Sen. William Larkin Jr. (R-Cornwall-in-Hudson) would allow the Town of Palm Tree to come into existence in 2019 instead of 2020, as per current state law.
“I think we’re all most likely in favor of this, getting this done,” Supervisor Tony Cardone said during the meeting. “I think this is in the best interests of the Town of Monroe and the Village of KJ.”
The town’s formation - which will consist of the Village of Kiryas Joel and additional acreage - was overwhelmingly approved by Monroe voters in a referendum held last November.
'It is only logical'Cardone said he and Councilman Mike McGinn have had discussions with United Monroe officials, Skoufis and Gedalye Szegedin, Kiryas Joel village administrator, about the bill.
In a prior statement, Szegedin said: “It is only logical to permit the establishment of the new town in January of 2019, instead of waiting until January 2020, in order to carry out the will of the people.”
Skoufis is seeking additional state aid to for the Monroe-Woodbury School District to address lost tax revenue, but won't support the bill without the additional state aid being approved.
“Let me continue to be clear,” Skoufis said in a recent statement, “my support for accelerating the town of Palm Tree’s schedule is conditioned on special aid to offset the district’s losses.”
Cardone said the board first received a copy of the bill Monday night and wanted the town attorney to review it prior to any town action.
Legislature's session ends June 20 The Legislature needs to pass the bill before ending its session on June 20 in order for Palm Tree to be established in January.
This would also allow the required legal time for prospective Palm Tree board members get signatures and file petitions to run for office in November.
On its Facebook page, United Monroe noted that accelerating the process by one year “grants both Monroe and Kiryas Joel their political freedom one year early, accelerates the date of the change in school district boundaries, and removes the KJ bloc vote from participation in the 2018 Town Council special election.”
The special election is for the seat Cardone vacated when he was elected supervisor, and is now held by Councilman Sal Scancarello.
The Facebook post added: “These are all very important reasons to accelerate the start of Palm Tree, for both Kiryas Joel and Monroe.”
Residents will have the opportunity offer comment at the May 21 town board meeting.