Town Board Work Session
November 13, 2012
1. Wetlands permit, Wenonah Trail
The homeowner plans to add a second floor to an existing house that is within the wetland buffer and which will not affect the buffer. But, because the wetlands law says that the Town Board is the approval authority for a wetlands permit that involves more than 800 sq ft of modifications within the buffer zone, the homeowner needs to get a permit. Environmental Consultant Barber recommended that the Town modify the law to clarify that the permit would only be needed in the event that any new construction affected only the wetland or wetland buffer. Pending the drafting and approval of the amendments, the homeowner was advised to proceed with applying for the required permit.
2. East of Hudson Stormwater Retrofit Plans
Rahul Verma, the director of the East of Hudson Corporation that includes 18 municipalities and Putnam County, walked the Board through the four stormwater retrofit projects that the Corporation, with NYC DEP funds, will be pursuing in Yorktown for Year 3 of the retrofit plan. The plans are designed to reduce phosphorous in the initial stormwater runoff that typically contains pollutants from roads, driveways, etc. Phosphorous contributes to algae bloom in the Town’s lakes and ponds.
One of the two planned projects at Sparkle Lake (both projects will be underground) will be in the grass area adjoining the service building and because some of the land will be cleared of brush, the net result will be an increase in grass area. A third project at the Police Department site has been modified at the request of the department. A fourth site is a small pond in the Railroad Station park
3. Wetlands issue, Broad Street
Homeowner Gregory Kravtsov advised the Board that runoff from adjacent properties has created wet conditions on his property, that there is mold in his house that he was not aware of when he bought the house, and that because of the mold condition he can no longer collateralize his house. In response to the Board’s repeated question, “what do you want us to do,” he initially asked the Board for a “credit,” by which he meant a reduction in his taxes. The Board’s response was that it had no authority to lower his assessment. He then asked for a “certificate of appreciation” although it was not clear how this would help him. The discussion ended with no decisions being made.
4. Preservation of Knapp House, Old Crompond Road
Mr. deLaperouse explained that what needed to be done at the house was to create a “record” of what was there. Now that the house is vacant, this involves breaking through the plaster to find out what is actually there that may be of historic interest and worthy of protection. He added that even if it is subsequently determined that the structure is not worth saving, it was still important that there be a record. He said that the partial demolition would take a few days and could be done by a contractor. While he did not have any specific cost estimates, the number $15,000 was mentioned. Board members were not clear what Mr. deLaperouse wanted the Town to do and suggested that he contact the developer who has indicated in the past that he wanted to work with the community to preserve whatever was important in the structure. Councilman Paganelli asked him to come up with some hard numbers on what the partial demolition would cost.
5. Tree debris removal
The Board met with two representative of Hudson Forest Removal regarding the removal of downed trees and Highway Superintendent DiBartolo asked the Board for direction as to how it wanted the Town to handle the issue. He said the trees should only be handled once. The Highway Department’s equipment can handle trees up to 6 feet while the logging company can handle trees up to 20 feet and its equipment has a 22 foot reach.
Mr. DiBartolo said that he was gathering information on downed trees from town owned property that were on private property.
The Board went over the same ground discussed during Friday’s budget meeting regarding how many feet off the road the Town would be responsible for. Mr. DiBartolo explained to the Board that every road had a different ROW, and on some roads the ROWs varied. No decisions were made. In the meantime, the Highway Department will continue to pick up brush and leave the big trees. Town Clerk Roker will look into whether a contract with the logging company is subject to competitive bidding or whether the bid requirements can be waived because of the emergency situation.
The Board asked members of the media to remind residents that the Town will not pick up logs greater than 5” and Mr. DiBartolo noted that if the logs remain at the roadside by the time it snows, they can become dangerous projectiles when the plow trucks go down the road.
As part of the discussion, the representative of Hudson Forrest Products reminded the Board that last year he had presented the Town with a proposal to do forest management on town-owned property, including harvesting trees for revenue. Councilman Bianco said that if a tree fell on town property and if it wasn’t bothering anyone, he saw no need to remove it and there was nothing to be” managed.” Councilman Paganelli said that if the Board considered hiring a contractor to do forest management, that the job would have to go out to bid.
6. Official Zoning Map
Resident and former Planning Director Ray Arnold explained that the Town does not have an “official” updated zoning map and that the current Zoning Ordinance refers to a 1958 map. He explained that in 2010, based on the research he had done on zoning changes, the previous Board held a public hearing on a local law to adopt what would have been the then official zoning map. No action was taken, however, because the Board anticipated making additional zoning changes based on the adopted Comprehensive Plan. However, after those zoning changes were made, no action was taken to update the draft zoning map and adopt a new official zoning map as of 2010.
The Board referred the map issues to the Planning Department and after some changes are made, a public hearing will be held on a local law to adopt the map.
7. YCCC tenant rents
The Board authorized the Supervisor to sign varies leases. It also acknowledged having received a proposal from Bright Beginnings asking for an 18% reduction in its rent but it took no action.
8. Legal Settlement
In an item not on the agenda, the Board authorized the Supervisor to sign a legal settlement in the Nick DiTomaso lawsuit. (Although there was no discussion of the settlement, the CIY observer learned that the settlement gave Mr. DiTomaso $7,000.)
9. Other resolutions
a. Web hosting. The Board voted to renew the contract with Aha Consulting for the Town’s web site at a cost of $3,000/year. The Town Attorney determined that this did not have to go out for an RFP as the software code for the site constituted a “sole source.”
b. Contract renewal for Cornerstone Appraisal Associates as Environmental Consultant. This was on the agenda, but it was not clear if the Board voted on the resolution.
10. Hurricane Sandy issues
Highway Superintendent DiBartolo said he anticipates that the Town will receive a “substantial” amount of money from FEMA for reimbursing the Town’s expenses. Human Resources Specialist Gspurning and Councilman Paganelli took photos immediately after the storm to document damage and these will be sent to FEMA along with cost documentation.
Citing problems using the town hall board room as an Emergency Command Center, Supervisor Grace said that the Town needed a separate location for the EOC and Highway Superintendent DiBartolo said that his men would begin measuring the walls in the basement of the court building for the new location.
After the budget discussion (see below), the Board went into executive session, which became heated at times. When it returned to open session, and after Councilman Patel left the room, the Board voted 3-1 to appoint Paul Colarusso as a laborer in the Building Maintenance Department with Supervisor Grace voting against the motion.
The Board then proceeded to continue its review of the Supervisor’s Tentative Budget
Highway Superintendent DiBartolo said he was “good” with what was in the Supervisor’s budget which he described as “tight.” He said that he had always inflated the department’s insurance line as a “fudge” factor but this time, the deputy comptroller had reduced the line by $5,000. In response to a question from Councilman Bianco about the increase in the supplies line, the superintendent said it was needed for gravel, stone and blacktop.
Supervisor Grace said that the Town should give the highway fund some additional fund balance in line with the goal of having a 15% fund balance for every fund. In the absence of that amount of money, he said the Board would give the highway fund what it needed when it was needed.
On the revenue side, Mr. DiBartolo recommended that fee for the annual blanket street opening permit for utilities be increased to $7,500 from $5,000. This significantly shortens the time the utilities have to wait to get the required permits. In the past, when the fee was raised to $5,000 from $1,000, only Verizon made an issue of it and as a result had to apply each time it wanted a permit.
The change will be subject to a local law that will be advertised for a public hearing.
Councilman Bianco asked Deputy Comptroller Caporale how many people the Town was paying unemployment and underemployment insurance for, and for how long. Underemployment insurance, which is provided for in state law, is for a person who is working, but fewer hours than a full time job. Councilman Murphy suggested that if the Town was paying for an underemployed person, it would make sense to give that person more hours working for the Town in order to eliminate the underemployment insurance charge.
Ms. Caporale gave Board members a spreadsheet that had revised numbers that called for a 4.75% tax rate increase in the ADL fund but there was no discussion of the revised numbers..
For the Water fund, Supervisor Grace said that instead of using $750,000 from the fund balance, he is now proposing that the principal of one of the bonds be paid from the fund balance instead of shown as an expense line. He did not say how this would affect the tax rate.
Supervisor Grace said it was nonsense to talk about a 7.72% tax rate increase when 90% of taxpayers had water and sewer and that it was a mistake not to look at the other funds. He said that combining the tax rates for the ADL funds with special district funds was what the state was doing when it included all special districts in the 2% tax levy cap calculation.
Supervisor Grace said the major reason for the ADL increase was the “uncontrollable” increase in police costs but that having a police department was a valuable investment.
Councilman Patel questioned the projected one time planning department fees to which Supervisor Grace responded that if the Town generates the revenue next year, it should be used to lower next year’s taxes. He also said he was opposed to adding a full time person in the Parks Department. When Councilman Bianco suggested that perhaps the department could do with more seasonal help, Highway Superintendent DiBartolo said that there was too much work that needed to be done for a seasonal employee.
Councilman Bianco said he was requesting a salary increase for all elected officials for next year (he did not say how much) and that for subsequent years, he believed that salary raises should be automatically increased based on the cost of living. When Councilman Patel said he didn’t want a salary increase, he was told that he didn’t have to take it.
Councilman Bianco again said he thought the franchise revenue line could be increased and there did not appear to be any support for Councilman Paganelli’s suggestion that the sales tax line be increased over what it is for 2012.
The Board will resume discussions of the Supervisor’s budget on Tuesday, November 20, at 5pm prior to its regular 7:30 meeting.