June 4, 2013
Absent: Councilman Paganelli
1. Digitization of town records
Supervisor Grace announced that the Board has requested Sullivan Data, the town’s IT consultant, to prepare an RFP for the purchase of the software needed to digitize the town’s existing paper records. While he didn’t specify a cost figure, he said that the expense was “not insignificant” but that it would save money in the long run on personnel costs, increase interdepartmental efficiency and enable the town to free up space currently devoted to the storage of paper records. Eventually, he said, it would pay for itself.’’
2. Courtesy of the Floor
Personal attacks. Controversy arose over what constituted personal attacks and how Board members should react to such perceived comments. Referring to a comment Supervisor Grace made on his Grace Notes TV show about Hunterbrook Road residents who oppose the Winery wetlands plan, Hunterbrook Road resident Paul Moskowitz compared his residence to that of Supervisor Grace. This led Councilman Bianco to leave the dais saying that he would not listen to disparaging remarks made about Board members. The issue rose again when a second speaker, Chris Sciarra, said he was insulted by the use of the term “Gracetown.” When Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) suggested to the Board that it adopt some guidelines as to what constituted a “personal attack, ” Supervisor Grace said that speakers should follow their own moral compass and decide for themselves. He did not see the need to make any rules but said that he thought discussing personal information should be out of bounds. Councilman Murphy agreed that personal information should be off limits.
Signs. Denise D’Amico expressed concern about the proliferation of signs throughout town, noting that the problem was getting worse. Why is it happening? she asked. She was particularly concerned about the small signs on metal posts stuck inro the ground. In response, Councilman Bianco said he had spoken to the code enforcement officer about the signs and Supervisor Grace said the town would keep an eye on the problem.
In response to comments made during Courtesy of the Floor, Supervisor Grace said he anticipated a future vote on an amended site plan that would be submitted and which did not include the town owned parcel. He repeated his position that the Board should have allowed the public hearing process to go forward so that both sides of the issue had an opportunity to be heard. He regretted that the issue had become a political football.
4. Ethics Law/Annual Financial Disclosure Form
After a closed session discussion with members of the Ethics Board prior to the regular meeting, the Board voted, 4-0, for a resolution that gives the four town officials who have not submitted their 2012 Financial Disclosure forms 21 days to submit the forms or else be automatically suspended from their positions. The supervisor did not identify the four individuals or their positions.
The vote generated additional comments from the public and the Board during the second Courtesy of the Floor. Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) thanked the Board for its action and for enforcing the provisions of the law, but Tony Grasso, who said he served on a prior Ethics Board, said he thought the requirement was intrusive and violated the rights of the individuals.
Supervisor Grace said he thought the current form was intrusive, adding that if a person chose not to submit the form, his reputation would be besmirched. Calling the law counterproductive, he added that the filing requirement could lead to people not wanting to work in Yorktown or volunteer to serve on boards. Also, that the law could lead to “snarky allegations.” When Councilman Patel said that the county’s disclosure form was more stringent than the town’s, Supervisor Grace disagreed.
Supervisor Grace said the existing law needed to be tweaked and that he had asked the newest member of the Ethics Board, an attorney, to look into possible revisions. Councilman Bianco, who was on the Board when the Disclosure Form was adopted, said that there had been considerable debate prior to its adoption, adding that although the form was not onerous but that it might need some tweaking. But right now, he said, it’s the law and it should be followed.
a. Police car emergency equipment. Advertised for bids. Also a separate resolution was adopted allowing the town purchase the equipment from a specific company due to the efficiencies and economies related to the standardization of equipment.
b. Microfilm/fiche printer reader maintenance. Awarded the single bid to Metro Imaging Services.
c. Portable Generator. Rescinded a bid award due to error in the specs.
6. Volunteer Boards
Accepted the resignation of Thomas DeChiaro as a member of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
7. Selected resolutions passed unanimously
a. Section 8 program. Waived the $10,580 in fees the town charged the program for rent, utilities and the services of the town attorney. In voting for the resolution, Councilman Bianco noted that 60% of the people served by the program are Yorktown residents. He said that in future years, the funds should possibly come from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and that the home communities of the remaining 40% of program’s beneficiaries should be asked to pay a portion of the cost of administering the program.
b. Recreation/Conservation Easement for Osceola Realty. Accepted the easement that was part of the site plan for an office building previously approved by the Town Board.
c. Sanctuary Golf Course. An item not on the agenda, the Board voted to refer out for review the amended site plan that had been submitted that afternoon.
d. Wetlands Permit for stormwater retrofit project at the police building. Referred out for review the application.
8. Special session
At the request of a resident who has an issue with a town employee, the Board voted to schedule a future closed session with the resident to discuss the issue.