December 5, 2017
1. 2018 Budget hearing
The hearing was opened and closed but the board postponed voting to adopt the budget until the December 19 meeting. It did, however, indicate that the following changes would be made:
-- $10,000 would be added to the salary for the supervisor’s assistant
-- Salary adjustments were made for 4 other staff members
-- The medical line for one department was changed
-- In the Refuse budget, $100,000 was transferred from the equipment line to the outside services line
At various times during the hearing, Supervisor Grace reported that the town was in good financial shape, that the increase in the tax levy was very small, that there had been no need for tax increases over the past five years and that he hoped the new board would continue to pursue his highway garage relocation plan (see below). He also said that those who criticize him for using too much fund balance were wrong and that the fund balance should be used to reduce taxes,
What follows is a summary of some of the major items that were brought up during the hearing.
Granite Knolls. Several residents spoke about the importance of completing the project, including installing the lighting and constructing bathrooms. Supervisor Grace said the town has a $700,000 estimate for lighting and a $600,000 quote for the buildings (a pavilion and rest rooms) although he added that the latter was for unnecessary “taj mahal like” buildings. He said the complex would be completed without using any taxpayer funds.
Although the board had anticipated voting for a $1.1 million turf after the hearing, that vote was postponed. See ‘work session” summary below.
Staffing in supervisor’s office. In response to comments that the secretary position that was in the Tentative budget but was taken out of the Preliminary budget be put back into the budget, Supervisor Grace said that the incoming supervisor could transfer an existing employee from a different department who was in the same job title. When asked about the vacancy in the department that lost an employee, he didn’t respond.
Supervisor Grace said he would add $10,000 back into the salary line for the supervisor’s assistant. He said the $20,000 cut was a mistake.
Police security: In response to a question about why it was necessary to have a police officer attend Town Board meetings and whether there had been threats, the board defended the additional $15,000 that will pay for an officer’s overtime. Councilman Diana said he was motivated by his concern for the safety of town residents and Supervisor Grace said (possibly in jest ?) that he wouldn’t be shocked if he woke up on a Wednesday morning and read that the supervisor had been shot. There could be, he said a “potential problem.”
Open Space Fund. A resident suggested that the town ask the state legislature to amend the enabling legislation that allowed the town to levy a $30/year tax so that the money could be used for open space maintenance in addition to acquisition. In response, Supervisor Grace repeated comments he has made in the past that the $30/parcel fee was unfair because every property owner paid the same fee, regardless of the size or value of their property.
Hearing assistance devices. A resident who wears hearing aids explained that the hearing assistance devices the town purchased were useless and asked that $5,000 be added to the budget to purchase a different, and better, system.
Tennis Courts. A resident asked that the tennis courts be repaired.
Tax levy. Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, raised concern that the levy was $939,000 less than it could have been. She said this would tie the hands of the future board and asked that the levy be increased. Supervisor Grace disagrees and said the speaker wanted the board to increase the tax rate. The speaker also asked questions about specific line items but the board did not respond to any of her questions.
Anthony Tripodi was reappointed to the Planning Board and will serve through December 31, 2023.
3. Depot Square
The board scheduled a public hearing for December 19 to consider a $1 million application for a state grant for the project. Councilman Patel voted against the resolution.
The board voted to advertise for bids for the renovation of the bathrooms at the library.
5. Hunterbrook Field
The board voted to accept a donation of fill from a Somers construction project for leveling and expanding an existing soccer field. The resolution stated that the soil had been tested in accordance with DEC guidelines.
After adjoining the regular meeting, the board went into a work session format to discuss the selection of a vendor for the turf at Granite Knolls. Initially, the board was planning to vote to award the $1,181,521 contract to Shaw Sports. However, during the regular meeting, representatives of a competing firm, LandTek, asked for an opportunity to discuss their proposal with the board in greater detail.
A representative of the firm said that its product, which would cost $230,000 less than the Shaw product, was a better product. He also questioned on what basis the board resolution included comparative statements that implied that the Shaw product was superior to other products. Based on the discussion, the board agreed to meet with the representatives Thursday morning, at 10:30 in a specially convened work session. (Note: LandTek supplied the turf for Legacy Field and there were some comments about the turf having underperformed.)