Note: As of December 2, 2014, the summaries of open Town Board meetings that appear on this site are copies of Susan's Blog, a blog written by Susan Siegel in her capacity as a town councilwoman and which appear elsewhere on the Internet.
December 31, 2014
Absent: Councilman Patel
In a year end meeting necessitated mostly by the need to approve 2015 insurance policies before the end of 2014, the board voted for a new set of policies and also acted on the following items.
1. BJs rezoning
Without any discussion, the board approved a resolution to adopt a local law that amended the zoning map to reflect the rezoning resolution that was passed on December 19, 2014.
2. Water District budget transfer
What started out as a routine budget transfer vote, turned into a broader discussion about usage rates, taxes, meters and the use of fund balance.
Water Superintendent Rambo explained that the amount left in the budget line for the purchase of water from the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works (NWJWW) was not sufficient to pay the November and December bills that were expected to total about $400,000. He explained that the reason for the shortfall was that the town had not increased what it charges customers per 1,000 gallons used even though the NWJWW had increased what it charges its members. Supervisor Grace then explained the difference between the water bills that were based on consumption and the water tax that was based on the property’s assessed value and which paid for the district’s infrastructure
This led to Supervisor Grace to state that the water rates should be raised so that customers pay for what they use and to additional comments about how to fund infrastructure projects that should be paid through the water tax as distinct from water purchases. Town attorney Koster said that in the past, water rates have been raised by local law although she seemed to think that this could also be done by resolution.
In response, I agreed that infrastructure costs should be paid for separately and suggested the board have a meeting in January at which time there could be a discussion about capital projects and how to fund them, i.e., from fund balance or bonding. I also said that if the issue was customers paying for the water they used, then that was justification for proceeding with the water meter project. As he has done in the past, Supervisor Grace said saw no value to continuing with the meter project and that discussion, like the capital projects discussion, was put off from a future meeting.
The board approved transferring $500,000 for the district’s fund balance to cover a shortfall in the $3,525,940 budget line for water purchase with the understanding that if there was any remaining money left in the line at the end of the year, it would be returned to fund balance.
3.Holland Sporting Club
The board approved an additional $3,500 for the clean-up project. In response to my question, Highway Superintendent Paganelli advised the board that to date the clean-up has cost between $39,000-$42,000 when all costs are added up. He said that the DEC was expected to visit the site next week and will decide if the screened soil should be tested for lead and other substances before being used for fill or for other town purposes. He has also asked the Rec Commission to weigh in on whether it thought the soil should be tested, as the soil at the Hunterbrook field was earlier in the year. His recommendation was that it be tested.
(See Town Board 6/10/14,10/14/14, 10/28/14.) The board approved a package of insurance policies for 2015, including property, general liability, auto, umbrella public officials and employee liability, police liability and excess workers compensation for a total premium cost of $693,974. All but one of the policies are with the same carrier as 2014.
During an executive session with the town’s new insurance broker, and also in the subsequent open session, I expressed concern that the board had not had the opportunity to meet with the broker earlier to review policy options and quotes and that with the 2014 policies expiring later in the day, the board had little choice but to vote for the new policies. I also expressed concern that for each policy the broker had provided the town with quotes from only carrier.
Explaining that the broker, Arthur J. Gallagher, had only been hired by the town in late October, the company’s representative said that her goal next year was to present the board with 2016 information by October. She also said she would meet with the board again to answer additional questions about the policiesand also to advise the board about the public officials liability policy.
I also questioned the broker on how her company was being compensated. In addition to the $39,200 fee the board approved a few weeks ago, the company will also receive a 15% commission on the premiums for some, but not all, the policies.
5. Bruce Barber consulting contract
The board extended the contract for Bruce Barber to serve as the town’s environmental consultant for an additional two months, through the end of February, 2015, while it discussed possible changes to his contract.
6. Emergency Generator for YCCC
The board rejected the sole bid for plumbing work at the YCCC associated with the installation of the new generator and agreed to rebid the job. Allthough there was no courtesy of the floor on the agenda, Ed Ciffone called out asking why it was taking so long for the generator to become operational. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the job could have been done a year ago if the generator was located in the front of the building where the electric and gas service come into the building. However, due to aesthetic concerns, the generator has been placed in the rear of the building, a location that has necessitated more work.