Separation update

| 21 Sep 2017 | 02:02

By Bob Quinn
— The Town of Monroe is expected to host two public information forums in October to provide information on the political, financial and economic impact that would be created if the Village of Kiryas Joel is enlarged by 220 acres to create the new Town of Palm Tree.
The new town’s name is drawn from that of Joel Teitelbaum, the founder and first Grand Rebbe of the Satmar community.
The hearings would feature a panel of stakeholders — Monroe town officials, the mayors of Kiryas Joel, Harriman and Monroe as well as officials from the Monroe-Woodbury and Kiryas Joel school districts.
The purpose would be to fill in the details of what led the Orange County Legislature earlier this month to approve a referendum allowing all Monroe voters to vote yea or nay on a proposal that would create a new town.
Such a municipality would eliminate the KJ bloc vote from Monroe politics. It also would affect tax revenues for the town and school districts. It also would put an end to all annexation claims while at the same time satisfying the ever-increasing need for housing within the Kiryas Joel community, a population of about 25,000 today that is expected to double within a generation.
The outlines for the proposed town grew out of negotiations between officials of the Village of Kiryas Joel and those from the local political organization, United Monroe. L. Stephen Brescia, the chairman of the Orange County Legislature, facilitated those negotiations. The three legislators who represent portions of the area — Michael Amo, Katie Bonnelli and Myrna Kemnitz — all supported the effort.
Accounting firm from NewburghA key element of the information forums will be information regarding the financial impact extracting the Village of Kiryas Joel and 220 acres from the rest of the Town of Monroe.
Toward that end, the Town of Monroe has hired RBT CPAs at a cost of $17,000.
According to its website, RBT CPAs was founded in 1966. The company “is a mid-sized organization in the accounting and bookkeeping services industry located in Newburgh. It has 60 full time employees and generates an estimated $11.8 million in annual revenue.”
“This is a necessary process,” Town Councilman Tony Cardone said in an email exchange with The Photo News. “The public needs to know the cost factors associated with the separation so they can make an informed decision regarding the vote. Unfortunately our comptroller has revealed multiple findings and numbers both of which have not been authorized by the town Board. Our meetings and forums will reveal the true numbers through the honest efforts and work of RBT.
“The residents must remember,” Cardone added: “We all still must get out and vote on November 7th.”
Cardone is running for town supervisor this November with the support of United Monroe and the town Republican Committee. He is unopposed because Supervisor Harley Doles III is not seeking re-election.
‘Monroe is changing fast’Doles supports the creation of the new town but has objected to United Monroe’s involvement.
“This ‘agreement’ is not what the residents will be voting on,” Doles said. “It is a ‘private agreement’ between a political party, United Monroe, and the government of Kiryas Joel on behalf of their residents.
“I had asked for months to have public hearings concerning how much all this would cost,” he added. “No one argues the legitimacy of a new town but how much it will strengthen or undermine home values, school, town and village taxes and other taxing authorities? The die is cast. KJ will become Palm Tree. Good for them. But it is too late too know if it is good for us.
“Monroe is changing fast,” Doles continued. “Downtown Monroe is changing even faster. Retail stores are opening which reflect that change. As the excepted 60,000 new residents from Brooklyn and now the Bronx find comfort in calling Monroe and our neighboring communities home, they will bring with them a new cultural and everlasting identity which will reshape our meaning of gentrification.
“Monroe, like America is a great melting pot,” Doles said. “The ingredients are changing, but the taste of freedom will linger long after those who have voiced such vigorous opposition a long gone.”
(Read the comments of Emily Convers, chairwoman of United Monroe, on page 12.)
AccelerateMeanwhile, Assemblyman James Skoufis reports he continues to work on drafting state legislation that would accelerate the establishment of the Town of Palm Tree — should Monroe voters in November approved the referendum.
Presently, under state law, the new town would not come into effect until 2020.
“I’m looking to have it come into effect late 2018 or early 2019,” Skoufis said in an email exchange this week with The Photo News. “I have not yet finalized the legislation but hope to have something in the coming weeks.
“My main motivation is that in the same, exact bill, I will be including special aid for the Monroe-Woodbury School District that will offset — and then some — the expected loss of revenue by the shift in district boundaries,” the assemblyman added. “I view the Palm Tree acceleration piece as the vehicle to get the special aid passed.”
The public will be able to submit questions to the town prior the forums. Check out the town’s webpage ( for additional details.