Town Board Work Session
March 11 2014
“to discuss litigation and personnel”
1. Tax/Lien Collection System
In an effort to eliminate problems the tax office experiences each year when generating the school tax bills, Tax Receiver Barbara Korsak and Assessor Kim Penner presented a proposal to the board to switch to a different software package for the tax office. While the tax office and finance department uses KVS software, the assessor’s office uses SCA software. In order to generate the tax bills, information from the assessor’s SCA software is converted to KVS, but, for some reason that neither KVS or the town have been able to identify and resolve, the conversion results in problems. The problems occur only when generating school tax bills, not town tax bills. (While there was some discussion of past problems with rounding of numbers, it was not clear if this was the cause of the recurring problem.)
Supervisor Grace said that the problem created overtime costs for town staff and there was also an issue of whether the numbers could be trusted; being only a penny off could be a problem. He said he thought that the problem had been resolved earlier after a meeting with KVS staff, but apparently the problem still exists. He added that the savings in staff time, plus the trust factor, would more than justify the cost of the new software. The tax office, he said, is currently down one person. The cost of the software was not discussed, although there was some discussion as to how many licenses the town would have to purchase.
When asked her opinion of the switch, Comptroller Pat Caporale said she knew nothing of the proposed change. She explained that the impetus for the tax office switching to KVS dated back several years and was a result of the repeated findings of the town’s auditor that the records of the tax office and finance office did not match.
Ms. Caporale will meet with Ms. Korsak and Ms. Penner over the following week and will return to the board, possibly with a presentation from SCA.
During the discussion Councilman Patel expressed his displeasure at not being informed about the tax office problem as well as other town issues he said he was being kept in the dark about. He also questioned whether the video tape of a 2013 town board meeting had been edited.
2. Public Safety Committee (Traffic Issues)
Councilman Murphy reported that based on his meetings with police office Eidleman, the town’s public safety officer, and complaints from residents, he was recommending that stop signs be placed at several locations. (It was not clear to the audience exactly where the signs would be placed.)
Highway Superintendent Paganelli, citing problems on Veterans Road when cars are parked on both sides of the street, asked the board to restrict parking on the Solaris side of the street from Decem ber 1 to March 31. He said that the board’s earlier actions that restricted parking to “snow events” was ambiguous and had not worked. He added that during several visits to the street, he observed many empty spaces in the gym’s parking lot while there were cars parked on the street.
The town attorney will draft legislation for both the stop signs and the no parking restrictions that will be subject to a public hearing.
3. Ethics Board
After stating that the supervisor should recuse himself and leave the room (which he did), Councilman Murphy made a motion to ask the Ethics Board to investigate who leaked the Ethics Board’s recommendation that had been reported in the newspaper. He called the newspaper report a “breach of confidentiality” and wanted to know how the newspaper got the document.
Councilman Patel then said that he had given the report, which had no confidentiality stamp on it, to the newspaper and saw no problem with his action.
Councilman Bianco suggested that the matter be discussed in closed session as “advice of counsel” and it was unclear whether there was an actual vote to refer the matter to the Ethics Board.
4. Permit fee for temporary tents
In an item not on the agenda, Building Inspector Winter advised the board that pursuant to the state building code he was required to issue permits for temporary tents like the ones used at Navajo Fields or at the JV Mall or for homeowners erecting tents for parties. As long as he was doing that, he said, he wanted to know if the board wanted to charge a fee to cover the staff time it took to review and process the permit request. He suggested a $50 fee.
The board expressed concern about imposing a fee on homeowners and suggested that Mr. Winter come up with a fee schedule that would only apply to tents above a certain size, e.g., those used for commercial ventures.
5. Town Board vacancy
After Councilman Bianco said he would not make public the three names he was suggesting to his fellow board members to fill the vacancy but would discuss the matter in a closed session, Town Attorney Koster suggested that the board members meet in pairs to discuss potential candidates. Supervisor Grace said he had no problem with such caucuses. (Note: by state law, when at least three members of the board are together to discuss town business, the meeting is considered an official meeting that must be properly noticed and conducted in the open unless it falls within the exceptions that can be discussed in closed executive sessions.)
After the board agreed to these informal discussions, Councilman Bianco asked about the status of the proposed local law that had been discussed at the previous meeting that would have allowed the town to hold special elections to fill any future vacancy on the board. In response, Supervisor Grace said he was having second thoughts about the wisdom of such a law which would take the appointment power away from the board. Ms. Koster then explained that the local law could be written in such a way that it preserved the board’s ability to appoint someone within a fixed number of days after the position became vacant (she suggested possibly 30 days) and that if the board couldn’t agree within that time frame, the position would be filled by a special election. Both she and Town Clerk Roker said there were timing issues with special elections but they did not elaborate on what those problems were.
Councilman Bianco asked that a draft local law be discussed at the board’s next meeting.
6. Selected resolutions, passed unanimously
a. YCCC rental fee. The board rejected a request from the Teen Center to revisit its earlier vote that rejected the group’s request to waive the rental fee for the group’s use of the gym for a Relay for Life event.
b. WI Fi donation. The board accepted an offer from Sullivan Data (the town’s IT vendor) to donate a firewall and wireless equipment to the town for town hall valued at $4,000. Councilman Patel expressed his displeasure at not being kept informed about the efforts to bring wi fi service to the building.
c. Budget transfers. Approved a budget transfer from in the Highway Fund fund balance to another budget line. The amount of the transfer and whether it was for 2013 or 2014 was not disclosed. In an aside, Highway Superintendent Paganelli said that he felt the department had sufficient salt to get through the year.
d. Sale of town equipment. The board authorized selling a Refuse and Recycling department Ford pickup truck by auction.
e. Police officers. The board authorized making a hiring offer to two police officers.
f. Tax certiorari. In an item not on the agenda, the board approved a tax certiorari settlement, but did not provide any details of the settlement.