February 25, 2014
1. Parks and Recreation
Donation: Parks & Recreation Superintendent Brian Gray informed the Board that Downing Park will be one of 653 parks in the country that will be a recipient of funds from a matching program involving the National Park Society and Macy’s. The department store will match donations, dollar for dollar up to $250,000. There will be no restrictions on how the money can be used. The donation period will be from March 7 to March 31, and the board gave Mr. Gray the green light to publicize the program.
Tractor purchase. The board gave the department the okay to go out to bid to purchase a tractor that also has a backhoe, bucket and forklift capability. The estimated cost is $37,500; the department’s budget included $40,000 for this purchase. Mr. Gray explained that the new tractor will increase efficiency. He said that equipment of this size was not available in any other town department.
(See resolutions section below for other Parks related issues)
2. Landmarks Preservation Commission
Representatives of the Commission again repeated their request for funds to do an historic survey of the Heights area. In response to questions from Councilmen Bianco and Patel, they said that while the Comprehensive Plan included some information about the town’s historic resources, that information was based on a drive by survey and did not contain sufficient depth. In response to a question about what information might be available in the town museum, Mr. Primavera suggested that the group check out that resource first before hiring someone to do the survey. Maybe, he suggested, the town could save time and money.
One of the goals of the survey would be to identify historic elements that could be incorporated into any new development plans in the Heights. As an example, Supervisor Grace mentioned the proposed Depot Square project.
3. YCCC rents
The board voted 4-0, with Supervisor Grace abstaining, not to allow the Street Beatz Dance Studio, a for-profit company, to pay the not-for-profit rental rate, even though the proceeds from the event would go to the not-for-profit group that would be the beneficiary of the event. The difference in the fee was $52.
Stating that “we go through this all the time, Councilman Murphy said the town should have a law and apply it to everyone; we can’t make exceptions. It was pointed out that by reducing and/or waiving rental fees, in the aggregate, the town was losing a lot of money (an amount was not specified). Councilman Murphy also wanted to know why these requests kept coming to the board instead of being handled at the staff level. Both Councilmen Murphy and Bianco said that the town needed a rule, although it was not clear at the end of the discussion if one was adopted, other than a statement that for-profit and not-for-profit groups should pay their respective rates.
In an item not on the agenda, the board approved an upgrade for a laborer in the Sewer Department and appointed two people as laborers in the Water Department.
5. Clothing Bins
Citing the proliferation of clothing bins, Supervisor Grace said something needed to be done about the problem. He suggested that either the town establish a licensing program for the bins and recoup some of the revenue that the bins generate, or enforce an existing law that allows the town to confiscate the non-approved bins and destroy them. He said he would ask Kim Angliss-Gage, the town’s recycling coordinator to weigh in on both approaches.
The supervisor explained that for profit companies pay businesses approximately $75 a month to place a bin on their property, even though the bin may be in violation of the approved site plan, and that the company then makes an arrangement with a not-for-profit group to put its name on the bin in return for a portion of the proceeds from selling the contents for their rag value.
6. Filling Town Board vacancy
Supervisor Grace said he wanted to move forward to appoint someone to fill the position until December 31, something, he said, the board should have done sooner. He said the town had an obligation and responsibility to fill the position and avoid the possibility of a 2-2 split vote, especially since there were likely to be some controversial issues coming before the board. (The only potentially controversial issue he identified was the convalescent home.) He said he wasn’t looking for someone who necessarily agreed with him and that disagreements among board members was healthy. He also noted the problems that could occur if one or two board members were absent from meetings and that it was his obligation to do the town’s business in a timely manner.
He said he had submitted three names to the other board members (two democrats and one republican) and asked them to also submit three names. Initially, he said that the other councilmen had not submitted requests, but then acknowledged that Councilman Bianco had submitted names. When he was ready to make his selections public, Councilman Bianco said the names should be kept private.
Councilman Murphy said that in a town of 36,000 people, it was a shame that the four board members couldn’t agree on a name. It was time, he said, for the board members to act like grown-ups.
When Councilmen Bianco and Patel stated that they believed the vacancy should be filled by a special election so that the people could decide, the town attorney, acknowledging that her previous opinion regarding a special election was in error, said that before a special election could be held, the board would first have to pass a local law that would be subject to a mandatory referendum, and that only if the referendum passed, the board could then schedule a special election. Given the time these steps would take, she advised the board that holding a special election was not practical. Citing her changing legal opinion, Councilman Bianco asked the attorney for a clarification. (The board also learned that the Board of Elections has set June 24 as primary election day for federal elections.) Councilman Bianco also pointed to the fact that the board has functioned with four members, citing the many resolutions it had unanimously passed that night.
In response to Councilmen Bianco and Patel, Super visor Grace said that in our representative form of government, the people elected the representatives who would make the decisions and that the elected officials didn’t have to go back to the voters very time they needed to make decisions. He said that holding a special election politicized the issue.
Councilmen Patel and Bianco said they had no problem with advancing the local law about a special election so that it could be ready if needed at a future date, but they held firm in their belief that the current vacancy should be filled by special election.
Supervisor Grace asked the board members to consider the issue again prior to next week’s board meeting at which time they could discuss the appointment issue again in closed session.
7. Jefferson Valley Mall
A member of ABACA ,who was present for another agenda item, advised the board that the advisory group has been working with the JV Mall team on proposed new signage. He expected that an agreement would be reached soon.
8. Selected Resolutions passed unanimously
Shell Gas Station canopy.Approved the special permit for the canopy.
Budget transfer/highway. Approved transfer within the highway budget or salt expenses. The amount of the transfer was not made public and Supervisor Grace said: “I don’t want to know (the number).”
Budget transfers, for unspecified amounts were also approved for the general, library and water funds. It was not clear whether they were for 2013 or 2014 or from what budget line the funds were being taken from.
Sale of unneeded town equipment by auction (Parks and Water Departments)
Sale of town properties. Authorized referring bids to various town departments. The town attorney advised the board that additional offers are “coming out our our ears.”
Canceled June 24, 2014 meeting due to the scheduling of the federal primary election.
Advertise to go to bid for transportation services for camp programs and for printing and embroidery on shirts and uniforms. (The vendor with the current bid has apparently gone out of business and rather than contact the second lowest bidder, the board decided to advertise a new bid.)
Conference attendance: Authorized two Parks Department staffers to attend a 3-day conference.
Software purchase: approved an RFP for the Water Department to purchase GIS software.
The board postponed taking action to cancel a contract with its current workers’ compensation third party administrator pending responses from the current RFP.