Town Board Work Session
January 24, 2012
1. Police Department Computer System
The immediate issue was whether to renew the current software maintenance contact for the department’s AS 400 system for six months or one year. The annual cost is approximately $50,000.
Comptroller Joan Goldberg explained that the reason for the six month contract would be not to tie the town’s hands in the event that it wanted to move to a new windows based system. She explained that the town had looked into a new system last year but that the police chief was not inclined to change systems. You need the support of the department, she said, in order to make the change. She said the newer system would save money for the Building Department and Court. Councilman Patel said that the current system was outdated and that the town needed the new system as soon as possible.
Chief McMahon said that the new system had no benefit to the Police Department and that two new modules could be added to the current system, at an approximate cost of $10,000 each, that could do what the newer system could do for the Building Department and Court. In support of the one year contract, he said it would take more than six months for the changeover to a new system, a point challenged by Councilman Patel who said the new system could be installed in six months.
Councilman Paganelli said that the town needed cost estimates for the new system.
A consensus was reached (no vote was taken) to renew the contract for six months.
2. Gasboy repair/replacement
Kim Angliss-Gage, Acting Recycling Coordinator, explained that a part for the town’s current Gasboy system, a 14 year old DOS based computer system which keeps track of the gasoline usage for different departments, was broken and needed to be repaired at a cost of about $3,500. The issue was whether to repair the old system or move to a new system. The 2-card authorization system keeps track of what driver and what vehicle used how much gasoline so that each department can be appropriately charged. Last year, the town spent in excess of $400,000 on gasoline.
Recognizing that something had to be done immediately so that proper usage could be recorded, the board authorized the repair, but also discussed two options for the future: purchasing a newer version of the Gasboy software or having its vehicles fill up for gas at a local station on a contract bid basis.
Ms. Angliss-Gage explained that the cost of a new Gasboy system varied, depending on what functions were included in the software page. She estimated that to get the functions we now have, would cost approximately $40,000, plus an additional unknown cost for the town’s IT consultant to install the system. As an alternative, Highway Superintendent DiBartolo suggested that the town follow Cortlandt’s example and contract out for gasoline purchases. The main advantage of this approach, he said, was that the town could eliminate the need for underground tanks which created ongoing regulatory problems that were costly. The main issue with the latter approach was the need to make sure that the station that won the bid had a generator in the event there was no electricity. Mr. DiBartolo also discussed the feasibility of installing microchips in each vehicle that not only would read gasoline usage, but could also identify when a vehicle needed servicing.
Supervisor Grace spoke about the importance of preventive maintenance for our fleet as a way to extend the life of our vehicles. One need that was identified was washing the under carriage of cars. (the Highway Department does wash down its trucks.) According to Mr. DiBartolo, there was a plan in place years ago to do this, at a cost of $5 per vehicle at a local car wash but the plan either was never put into practice or ceased operation.(The point was not clarified.)
Supervisor Grace said that the Fleet Committee needed to meet to discuss vehicle related issues.
3. Navajo Fields
Although on the agenda to discuss “temporary field greenhouses,” the discussion focused initially and primarily on the fact that the property owner had been issued a Stop Work Order because he had begun construction on the existing fields without the required site plan amendment and building permit. The applicant wants to change the location of temporary dug outs, shown on the approved site plan, with permanent dug outs. As the new location conforms to the parameters of the site plan, the board had no problem with the change but did want the applicant to follow town code and get the required permit for a permanent structure.
Because the original site plan approval included both state and town wetlands permits, Councilman Bianco raised the issue of whether the current permit needed to be amended, and if so, whether a public hearing had to be held on an amended permit. Supervisor Grace asked Town Attorney Koster to research the issue.
The applicant also wants to install a “moveable cold frame greenhouse” which would function as a temporary rolling batting cage like structure. Building Inspector John Winter explained that as long as the greenhouse was used for less than six months, it would not be classified as a “structure” that would require a building permit. However, even for a temporary use, a tent permit and inspection was required. Mr. Winter also informed the applicant that he would need to get a Flood Plain permit for both proposed changes.
Councilman Paganelli called the delay in getting the required permits “unavoidable” but added that it wasn’t the town that was holding up the improvements. Both he and Councilman Murphy advised the applicant to tell us now what other changes he wanted so that the town wouldn’t have to issue future Stop Work Orders.
C.J. Diven, the applicant, gave the board an update on the sports events scheduled for the fields in the coming months.
4. Sultana Ridge Association
Three representatives of the Association appeared before the board asking for a change in the property’s tax assessment. (Note: the Association owns a neighborhood swimming pool but it is not a “homeowners’ association.”)
Supervisor Grace called the property, which is included in a pending foreclosure action, a “toxic liability” and said that the liability to the town of foreclosing and then having to fill in an empty pool was greater than the amount of money owed in back taxes. His recommendation was to take the property out of the foreclosure proceeding. Given the physical constraints of the property, it said it would be very expensive to fill in the pool if the town took the property in rem, something the town did many years ago when it acquired the Tall Timbers site. Town Attorney Koster advised the board that Jen Fava, the Superintendent of Parks & Recreation has said that her department has no interest in using the pool.
Gordon Fine, spokesperson for the Association, explained that membership in the pool is limited to 70 families and that from year to year to Association didn’t know how much money it would be taking in. He said that the Association had filed tax certiorari suits in an effort to get its assessment reduced. Both Ms. Koster and Councilman Bianco noted that the property had some value because it had a pool and two buildings on it.
Ms. Koster explained to the board that the Association had previously informed the town that it did not have the money to pay approximately $30,000 in back taxes, nor could it pay off the amount in 24 months, the legal time limit on installment payments that is set by state law. Councilman Bianco asked Ms. Koster to summarize a memo she had sent to the board on the issue that outlined an alternate way to resolve the issue in the event the board took the property off the foreclosure list. There was no discussion about this alternate approach.
The discussion concluded with Supervisor Grace directing the attorney to prepare a resolution that would take the property out of the foreclosure proceeding. Ms. Koster said that if the Association signed an installment agreement, even knowing in advance that it could not and would not live up to the terms of the agreement, that that would automatically take the parcel out of the foreclosure proceedings.
Supervisor Grace said that the outcome of the certiorari cases that the Association has filed might resolve the assessment issue.
5. Modifications to contract with the town’s traffic consultant
Planning Director John Tegeder explained to the board that since 2004, as part of the Sustainable Development Study, the town has used the services of an outside traffic consultant to review the traffic data submitted on behalf of any new applicants proposing developments in the Route 202 or Route 6 corridors. Virtually the entire cost of the consultant is paid for by the applicant. The consultant submits a proposal to the town that sets out the scope of services and the cost and that information is then presented to the developer who has to approve the proposal before the Town Board actually contracts with the consultant. The procedure, Mr. Tegeder noted, predates the escrow issue and is not open ended as the applicant is told in advance what the cost of the consultant will be.
Mr. Tegeder explained that the services of the consultant, the firm of Jacobs, Edwards and Kelsey, were needed to review the traffic chapter of the Costco DEIS and also for the Faith Bible Church application that impacts Route 6.
When Supervisor Grace questioned the need for this additional expense for the developer and why the town had any reason to doubt what the developer was saying, Councilman Bianco said that a second study by the town’s consultant was a “double check” and that it was important for the town to make the public feel that the town had done its job. He said that in the past, in most cases, the town’s consultant had agreed with the developer’s traffic findings. He added that the members of the Town Board and Planning Board did not have the expertise to evaluate traffic issues, a point Supervisor Grace disagreed with, saying that the Town Board should be able to understand these issues.
In response to Councilman Murphy’s question of what happens if the developer doesn’t agree to the consultant’s study, Mr. Tegeder said that that was not likely to happen as the town wouldn’t be able to finish the project’s review without the consultant’s report.
Acknowledging that the town did not have an in-house traffic expert, Supervisor Grace said he would accept a proposal for using the outside consultant if it had a defined scope of services.
Mr. Tegeder will be in touch with the consultant and report back to the board.
6. Update on Route 202
Although not on the agenda, a discussion on pending improvements to the Route 202 corridor were discussed as an offshoot to the need for a traffic consultant to review the traffic chapter of the Costo DEIS.
Supervisor Grace said he wanted to get all the players involved in the Route 202 corridor together, including our state representatives, to discuss the possibility of state funding for infrastructure improvements for road and drainage improvements that would be tied to job creation. He said he was working with Town Clerk Alice Roker to identify all the players. We should be “shovel ready,” he said.
This led to Planning Director John Tegeder giving the board an update on planned improvements, including the DOT plan in the Pine Grove area that is scheduled for construction to start late this year, the Costco improvements and future improvements linked to the development of the State Land property.
7. Holland Sporting Club
After considerable discussion about the need to pay prevailing wages, the board voted unanimously to award the asbestos abatement contract to the low bidder for $68,000 and rejected, by a 2-3 vote, a motion made by Councilman Bianco and seconded by Councilman Patel to award the demolition contract. Supervisor Grace explained that the vote against awarding the demolition contract should not be taken as a rejection of all the bids, but instead, just a vote not to award the bid that evening.
During the discussion, Supervisor Grace said that because the bid specs for the abatement required five years of experience, it raised the cost of the project because the prevailing wage requirement necessitated hiring more experienced workers who were more expensive. He said that the work for both the abatement and demolition was laborer type work that didn’t require more expensive workers. Initially agreeing with the position that including an experience factor in the bid specs could lead to increased costs, Town Attorney Koster later explained that the experience requirement applied to the company and not the actual employees used by the company who had to be paid according to prevailing wage rates.
On the demolition issue, Councilman Bianco asked how the debris would be disposed of and Supervisor Grace responded that the town would pay the tipping fee. He did not explain where the construction debris would be disposed of. He also said that the Highway Department had all the equipment it needed to do the job and Councilman Paganelli said the town was in the process of getting cost estimates for the dumpster. Supervisor Grace said that if the town wasn’t prepared to decide on the demolition contract within the 60 days that the bids were good for, the town could ask the bidders to extend the time limit for the bid, a practice, he said, that had often been used in the past.
8. Noise ordinance
In response to concerns from a resident on Indian Hill Road over the noise from construction equipment, including a jackhammer, used on weekends and into the evening over a three year period (the property owner is building a house and apparently can only do the work on weekends), Councilman Bianco proposed changes in the town’s existing Noise Ordinance that would include restrictions on the use of certain types of equipment on Sunday.The town’s current ordinance has noise restrictions from 11pm-7am.
As the board reviewed the proposed changes, however, it became apparent that the proposed amendments raised other problems including exactly what types of equipment to include in the restrictions and why the restrictions should apply to one day, e.g., Sunday, but not another day, e.g., Saturday.
While the board shared the resident’s concern, there was no clear agreement on how the problem could be addressed. Supervisor Grace said he would direct the Building Inspector to visit the site and speak to the property owner using the equipment. He said that he didn’t think a law should be changed because of one instance. He also noted that in these economic times, he was sympathetic to a property owner doing work on weekends when he had to earn his living during the week.
9. Landmarks Commission
Six residents interested in serving on a revived Landmark Preservation Commission came before the board. In introducing the people, Bill Primavera noted that, including himself, four of the six people lived in historic houses. A seventh person, Tom DeChiaro, indicated that he wanted to serve on the Commission but couldn’t attend the meeting.
Mr. Primavera explained the benefits to the town of having a Commission, including the fact that it enabled the town to qualify as a Certified Local Government which meant that the town was eligible for state funding.
Supervisor Grace expressed his support for preserving the town’s history, noting that historic geographic sites should also be identified in addition to historic houses. (Nancy Milanese, one of the residents interested in being appointed to the Commission said that the geographic inventory had already been done in 2006 with state funding.) While Mr. Grace said he supported preservation, he added that he was also a strong proponent of people’s property rights. He suggested that short of a historic designation for a property, the town could have annual ceremonies commemorating historic houses, and honoring the owner by possibly giving the owner a plaque.
Mr. Primavera said the next step would be for the Town Board to interview the seven interested people but it was unclear whether the board would interview the people first before simply appointing them at a future board meeting.
10. Cable Committee
Without any discussion, the board said it would appoint Ray Arnold to the Cable Committee at the next regular meeting.
11. Zoning Board of Appeals
Without any discussion, the board said it would re-appoint Gordon Fine as chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals at the next regular meeting.
12. Greg Ball’s Woman of Distinction Award
The board agreed to nominate Kathleen Quinn, head of the Support Connection.
13. Conference attendance policy
As a follow up to the previous discussion regarding the request of the Library Director to attend a conference at the town’s expense ($1,000), Councilman Bianco said he had left a phone message for the Library Director but that she had not gotten back to him. Councilman Bianco reminded the board that there was no money in the budget for conference expenses and that if the town decided to pay for one person, it would have to do the same for all. Supervisor Grace said that as there was no budget line for conference attendance, the town would need to make a budget transfer before the town could pay for the Director’s expense. No action was taken.
In a related matter, the board unanimously approved the attendance of Steve Melillo of the Parks Department at a class sponsored by Turf Products Corp. There was no discussion of whether a cost was involved.
a. Student Resource Officer. This discussion was in closed session.
b. Approval for the water bid was delayed until the next meeting.