February 24, 2015
1. Arbor Day
Ann Kutter and Bill Kellner presented plans for the May 1, 2015 Arbor Day celebration to be held at Patriot Park.
Mr. Kellner also discussed a DEC grant program, Trees for Trib, to plant trees and shrubs in the vicinity of the dog park at Sylvan Glen. The board supported the idea of applying for the grant.
2. Hallocks Mill Sewers (Yorktown Sewer District)
Pump Station RFP. After reviewing three proposals for the design and rehabilitation of three aging pump stations, the board agreed to select the firm of GHD at a cost, for design, preparation of bid specs and construction inspection services of approximately $385,000-$773,000; the final cost will depend on the length of the construction program. The funds for the project will come from the Yorktown Sewer District fund balance. The design phase will take about one year. Acting Town Engineer Robinson estimated that the construction costs could range from $2-$3 million with better estimates known only once the design phase is completed. There was no discussion on how the actual construction costs would be funded. A resolution awarding the contract will be prepared. The pump stations are over 40 years old.
Moving forward on the pump station upgrades was delayed for several years when Supervisor Grace decided to pursue a partial diversion strategy which ultimately proved unsuccessful.
Sewage Treatment Plant/SPDES permit. Supervisor Grace explained that moving ahead on the pump station upgrades will help the DEP look more favorably on the town’s efforts to allow more hook-ups to the plant. He said that the DEC, which issues the SPDES permit, was leaning towards a using a more flexible “rolling average” calculation to determine actual flows to the plant. This would be helpful, because the flows are often less than the permitted 1.5 million gallons per day but can exceed 1.5 mgd during heavy rain events. DEP, however, has to issue a variance before any additional hook-ups are allowed. He said that once permission was granted, he anticipated that hook-ups would be done gradually over a long period of time.
In response to my question, the supervisor assured the board that the $10 million of East of Hudson money set aside for Yorktown sewer connections was still available.
Unpaid Taxes (2008-2012) and Foreclosure Efforts
As of early this month, and up to 2012, the town was owed $1.9 million in back taxes, or $2.5 million when interest was added on. As he has done before, Supervisor Grace was critical of the 12% interest charge that is set by the state and said he’d like to see that rate changed.
Tax Receiver Barbara Korsak reported that in response to overdue letters she sent out, a few people have paid their taxes and others have been advised to contact the town attorney regarding entering into installment agreements. While Supervisor Grace said that most of the people who owned were senior citizens without mortgages and the town had to show compassion, both Councilman Patel and I said that the town had to balance compassion with fairness to all taxpayers who struggle to pay their taxes.
It was agreed that a second, stronger warning letter would be sent by the town attorney by the end of March. The step after that would be to initiate a foreclosure proceeding.
Supervisor Grace said that he personally will be contacting the property owners on the list.
The last time the town did a foreclosure proceeding was in 2011 for taxes due in 2009. The foreclosures were never finalized, however, because of court delays. There are still occupied houses on the 2008 foreclosure list that have not paid their taxes.
Sultana Pool: I asked that a decision be made about the future of the Sultana pool that currently owes $81,808, pointing out that it is costing the town about $2600 a year in county and school taxes by doing nothing. I suggested that the highway department could fill in the pool and that the property could be sold, possibly to the abutting property owner for a nominal sum. The goal was to do something so that the town would no longer be responsible for paying the taxes on the property.
Supervisor Grace said he would contact the “Y” he had been in touch with last year (see below) to see if they were still interested in acquiring the pool. He said the group was “scared off” last year by dissent in the community. He implied that the use of the pool could be divided between the Y and the area homeowners and that the Y would pay a portion of the back taxes. I asked the supervisor to report back to the board in a month. Any transfer to title would involve dealing with the area homeowners who have deeded rights to the pool.
4. Baptist Church Road
I suggested that the town proceed to go to bid for the project and use the fund balance as an interim finance source, much the same way the board ordered over $800,000 worth of highway department trucks last year using fund balance as a backup funding source before the funds became available from the recently passed bond resolution. Just as the trucks likely won’t have to be paid for until the bond funds became available, I suggested the same be done with the culvert project so that it could get started.
Supervisor Grace said he would consult with the comptroller on whether this could be done and report back to the board next week. I also asked him for more information as to when the bond funds would be available.
5. Algonquin Pipeline Project
With no discussion, the board approved a resolution to send a six page comment letter to the DEC asking the agency to delay issuing air and water quality permits for the pipeline project until a long list of unanswered questions were addressed. The letter was prepared jointly by Bruce Barber and myself. A copy of the letter will also be sent to FERC.
Copy of the letter.
6. Group home on Florida Road
On the recommendation of the Group Home Committee which held a meeting with area homeowners, the board approved the siting of a group home at 1480 Florida Road to be operated by Opengate.
7. Assessment IMA with Peekskill
The board approved an IMA (Intermunicipal Agreement) with Peekskill to use each other’s Board of Assessment Review in the event either municipality has a conflict of interest with a particular assessment review case. There will be no charge between the municipalities.