Town Board Work Session
January 15, 2013
Closed Session (shown on agenda as “personnel”)
1. Personnel (with the Library Director)
2. Interviews with outside auditing firms
1. Tree removal post Hurricane Sandy
(See November 8, 2012 meeting for background.)
(An item that was not on the agenda. )Two Mohegan Lake residents expressed frustration that nothing has been done to remove the fallen trees from Hurricane Sandy. Supervisor Grace explained that pursuant to the Town’s procurement policy, the Town had gone out to bid for a logging company to remove the trees using a grappling device but that no bids were received. He said that companies were otherwise busy after the storm and that they didn’t want to get involved with the paperwork associated with doing business with the Town.
When the residents asked why the Town couldn’t get additional chippers (the Town has 2 chippers) to do the work as other towns have done, the Supervisor explained that the Town wasn’t in the landscaping business and by law couldn’t provide services to private homeowners. He said that he was working on getting a truck and driver to deal with the issue. He also cited financial issues and the fact that the cost of helping out homeowners was not reimbursable under FEMA, something that Cortlandt learned after expending funds on clean up from a previous storm.
2. Outside Auditors
In a unanimous vote, the Town hired the firm of O’Connor Davies to provide outside auditing services for three years at a first year cost of $51,000. (See December 11, 2012 meeting and the Board’s decision to interview three possible companies with a range in cost of $25,000-$55,000.)
3. Section 8 Administrative Plan
Karren Perez, director of the Section 8 program, explained that the highly detailed revised Administrative Plan covered procedures and policies governing the program that provides rental assistance to 152 individuals or families with federal funds. A copy of the Plan is available in the Town Clerk’s office and will be uploaded to the Town’s web site.
4. YCCC tenant issues
a. Bright Beginnings. (See November 27, 2012 meeting.) With no discussion, the Board voted unanimously not to increase pre-school center’s 2013 rent by 3%, the increase that is being paid by other tenants.
b. Head Start refund. A provision in the group’s 2012 lease said that it was entitled to a refund whenever the YCCC was used as an emergency shelter. After acknowledging that the lease provision was confusing and needed to be clarified, it was agreed that any refund would be calculated based on the yearly rent divided by 365 days. It was noted, however, that if a state of emergency existed and people were not supposed to be on the road, the facility should be closed and therefore not entitled to a refund.
c. Taconic Postcard Club. The issue was whether this group, an offshoot of the museum, should be charged $843 for the year to hold 12 meetings in the nutrition center. Councilman Bianco said that all non-profit (and not-for profit, as there was confusion as to whether there was a difference between the two terms) should be treated the same and that the Town should have a policy. It was decided that the group should pay.
d. Teen Center. At the request of the Teen Center, the group will be allowed to use Room 104 (at no charge) on Friday evenings during the school year subject to the Park & Recreation Department not needing the room for any of its programs.
e. AARP Tax Preparation Program. The issue was whether this volunteer group, which was used a room in the past, should be exempt from paying rent. Initially, it was thought that the group’s services were provided free, but based on last minute information, it appeared that it did charge a fee – which, in the minds of the Board, changed its eligibility for the rent exemption. Patty DeMarsh, the YCCC building manager, will check out the fee issue and report back to the Board.
f. BOCES evacuation plan. Ms. DeMarsh advised that Board that she had recently learned that the BOCES evacuation plan calls for sending its students to the YCCC. She said no one in Town had ever known about this. Supervisor Grace indicated that he would look into the issue.
5. Athletic Club User Fees
(See December 3, 2012 and November 8, 2012 meetings for background.)
Representatives of several athletic clubs asked the Board to intercede on their behalf with the Yorktown School District to get the district to change its mind about charging the clubs fees for the use of school facilities, over and above custodial fees that they already pay. They said that the fees would be a burden to the families whose children participate in club sports. (The fees would vary depending on the sport and the amount of usage. Although a precise figure was not used, it appeared that the total amount of the new fees might be between $60,000-$80,000.)
The club representatives also expressed concern that the Town had held private meetings with the school district and had negotiated an arrangement that eliminated the user fees for the Town. In response, Councilman Paganelli explained that at the meeting in question, the Town and school district reviewed the services that they provide each other.
Supervisor Grace, saying that he might be sounding “cold and cruel,” saw no problem with the fees which he said were 100% legal and didn’t think that they created a problem for families. When Councilmen Bianco and Murphy suggested that the clubs have their members “pack” a school board meeting, a club spokesman said they preferred not to do that. Councilman Bianco noted that the Lakeland School District does not charge the clubs user fees and that the Town had had issues with the Yorktown School District in previous years. Councilman Paganelli said that it would be an illegal gift of public funds if the Town paid the fees for the clubs.
After considerable discussion, there was no resolution of the issue, although it appeared that the Town might “tally up” the services it provides the school district to see if it has any extra collateral that could be used to benefit the clubs.
6. Nor-West Services
Town Attorney Koster suggested to the Board that it might want to revisit the Town’s long history of financial support for the group which provides recreational services to disabled children and adults. (The 2013 budget includes $38,232 for the program.) The issue has come to a head because the Town has not paid its 2012 contribution. Ms. Koster explained that she has not been able to get information explaining how the financial contributions from Peekskill, Cortlandt and Ossining (town) and Yorktownare calculated, as well as an up to date contract.
Superintendent of Parks & Recreation Grey said that the group provides services to Yorktown residents that the Town cannot provide; the number of Yorktown residents varies depending on the season and whether residents attend “drop-in” programs or have to register for specific programs.
Councilman Paganelli said that even if the Town has no legal obligation to support the group, or provide recreational services to a special population, it has a moral obligation to do so. He said he would join Mr. Grey at the group’s next board meeting so that he could get more information.
7. Teatown lake Reservation – Wetlands Permit Application
(See January 14, 2013 Planning Board meeting.) With no discussion, the Board voted to advertise a public hearing on the application for February 5.
8. Proposed pedestrian amenities legislation
(See January 8, 2013 meeting.) Planning Director Tegeder and Planning Board Member Ann Kutter presented the Board with a conceptual draft of new language to be added to the Land Development Regulations portion of the Town Code dealing with sidewalks and pedestrian connectivity in site plans. The proposed regulations mimic language already in the Code for residential subdivisions and would give the Planning Board the ability to require the amenities on a case-by-case basis if and when appropriate.
During the brief discussion, the focus was whether the new language should say “may” or “shall. Town Attorney Koster said she would meet with Mr. Tegeder and Ms. Kutter to review the text and put the lagnuage into a proper format for adopting a local law.
9. Sustainable Energy Loan Program
Supervisor Grace asked the Board to consider establishing a Town program that would provide low interest loans to the owners of commercial properties and multi-family housing for energy upgrades. He indicated that the new owner of the Roma Building was interested in taking advantage of such a program.
Although the details on how the program would work, and a specific local law setting up the program has to be drafted, it appeared, from Supervisor Grace’s b rief explanation that the financing would come from a third party and that the loan repayments would be through Town taxes which the owner could then deduct from his his income tax. Supervisor Grace said the program would not cost the Town anything.
The Board indicted its support for the program.
10. 2008 Foreclosure List
a. Old Yorktown Village and Sultana Pool. Town Attorney Koster advised the Board that Association of Old Yorktown Village had paid its back taxes on a parcel that includes recreational facilities and should be taken off the foreclosure list. She said the Association had simply forgotten to pay the taxes.
This led Supervisor Grace to compare the Association’s assessment, that he said was $100, to the higher Sultana Pool Association assessment which the Town’s previous assessor said should not be reduced; the group has filed a tax certiorari lawsuit. He suggested that the Sultana group borrow money to pay its back taxes in full and that each association member would then pay about $2,000 to repay the loan.
Supervisor Grace said that the Town would return the $2,000 check that Sultana gave the Board at the last meeting as there was no mechanism for the Town to receive the check.
(See Sultana Ridge Association for more background)
b. Other parcels. Ms. Koster indicated that she would prepare a resolution for adoption at the next Board meeting that would remove several vacant parcels from the foreclosure list. Councilman Bianco noted that there were still several houses on the list, but the Board did not discuss taking any action on them.
Litigation (no specifics were provided)