April 3, 2012
a. Tax bills. Councilman Bianco reminded residents that the April tax bills are in the mail and suggested that residents who pay their taxes through their mortgage, would find it “interesting” to get a free copy of the bill at Town Hall. He said that the bill would show them the different special district taxes that they are being taxed for, including the MTA tax which totaled $60,000 for the Town. He also suggested that residents read the back of the tax bill which contained helpful information about third party notification and senior citizen exemptions.
b. Drainage: Highway Superintendent DiBartolo advised the board that the flooding problem on Highbrook Street discussed at a previous board meeting had been satisfactorily addressed.
c. Parking lot at Hunterbrook Condominiums. The parking lot, adjacent to the Legacy ballfields, will be taken away this week as part of a 2007 agreement the Town made with the condominiums during the planning of the ballfields.
2. Courtesy of the Floor (both segments)
a. Campaign finance reform. Three residents asked the board to join other municipalities in the state to urge Congress to pass legislation in support of campaign finance reform following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Their concern was the Court’s ruling that corporations are people and are therefore entitled to the Constitution’s free speech protection.
b. Senior bus trips. Gil Kaufmann, chairman of the Senior Advisory Committee and Jennie Menton both raised questions about the resolution passed last week that would give five senior clubs additional bus transportation this year. Pointing out that there are seven, not five clubs, Mr. Kaufmann wanted to know how the additional trips were going to be paid for and how the town would handle requests for two clubs on the same day. Saying that it shouldn’t have been necessary for her to be at this meeting, Ms. Menton chastised the board for not following the Town’s rules and regulations and for undercutting Mary DeSilva, the head of the Town’s nutrition program. She asked the board to rescind last week’s resolution. She said that this was the second time that the board had compromised on a senior issue and implied that the decisions were influenced by election year concerns. (Editor’s note: the earlier decision, in 2009, made the Jefferson Village Travel Club eligible for Town funds to subsidize the club’s trips.)
When Councilman Bianco explained that the vote was a compromise and that in a democracy we have to compromise, Ms. Menton took exception to his definition of democracy stating that democracy did not mean going against rules and regulations. Compromise, she said, meant doing things the right way.
Councilman Bianco said he had been told that the Town had the money to pay for the additional transportation.
Traffic concerns. A resident of Hanover St. asked the board to do something to reduce speeds on Hanover St. which he estimated were 50mph. Not sure what the solution would be, he suggested a range of possibilities: more enforcement, speed limit signs, speed bumps and Children at Play signs. Councilman Paganelli said that part of the problem was the narrowness of the road.
A second resident asked the board to look into speeding problems on East Main Street in Jefferson Valley between Route 6N and Perry St.
In response to both concerns, Deputy Supervisor Murphy said that he would contact Larry Eidelman, the Town’s traffic safety officer, and see what could be done.
d. Code enforcement. A Hanover St. resident asked the Town to do something about the illegal kickboxing signs that he said he has been removing himself every week. In response, Councilman Bianco explained that the Town just hired a replacement code enforcement officer and that he would be in touch with the person to take care of the problem. What the new person needs, he said, was a large pole, to reach up to the illegal signs.
e. Senior Center Renovations. Stating that the work was done a month ago, Gil Kaufmann, chairman of the Senior Advisory Committee wanted to know what was holding up the opening of the renovated nutrition center. If a temporary CO was given to the Winery, he said, why couldn’t the nutrition center open. In response, Planning Director John Tegeder, the person who has overseen the project, said that the work was 99% done and that the building inspector has been in touch with the contractor to schedule a final inspection.
f. Sultana pool. Calling the board’s attention to the fact that as of the new April tax bill, the Sultana Ridge Association will owe the Town $44,000 in back taxes, Ed Ciffone wanted to know when this will stop. The only solution he saw was reducing the pool’s assessment to zero.
g. Section 8 program. Saying that the recent settlement of the Section 8 lawsuit with the Fair Housing Justice Center cost the Town $165,000, Ed Ciffone said that the Town should do away with the program. (Editor’s note: the Town was only responsible for the first $75,000; the Town’s insurance company paid the remaining amount.)
h. Granite Knolls barn. Ed Ciffone said that Town should take down the barn, using the unused funds from the $250,000 that the board set aside to demolish the Holland Sporting Club buildings.
j. Water Department backflow program. Citing minutes of a September 1, 2009 Town Board meeting, Mr. Bonano of J &J Backflow said that the Water Department was incorrectly charging for backflow inspections. Highway Superintendent DiBartolo, who started the program in 2009 when he was in charge of the Water Department, explained that prior to 2009 the Town was not in compliance with Health Department regulations that required the Town to keep records of inspections. He said that the in-house program was easy to operate, that it was working well, and he praised the department for the work it was doing. He added that the Town never told water customers that they couldn’t use outside vendors to perform the tests. Councilman Bianco added that he saw no problem with the Town offering a service to its customers.
Mr. Bonano repeated his suggestion that if the Town wanted to use the program to raise revenue, it could charge a witness fee or filing fee that would require fewer Town man hours and which would be more cost effective.
Deputy Supervisor Murphy said he would look into the situation.
k. Blacktop work. Highway Superintendent DiBartolo advised the board that the asphalt plants will reopen next Monday. Due to a problem with the asphalt mixture, the plant had to close down and make an adjustment in the product mix. The Town’s blacktop contractor, Peckham Industries, will absorb the cost of redoing the work that was done with the faulty asphalt.
3. State Land Corp. Rezoning Request
The board voted unanimously to refer the rezoning request from R-160 to C-3 to the Town’s advisory boards and appropriate outside agencies for review and comment. Prior to the vote and during Courtesy of the Floor, when Walt Daniels, co-chairman of the Advisory Committee on Open Space asked the board if any action had been taken on the request, he was assured by Councilman Bianco that established procedures would be followed and that the ACOS would have an opportunity to comment on the application.
Referring to earlier plans for the site which he described as “lousy,” Councilman Bianco said that the current plan “might work with a question mark” as it was more environmentally sensitive to the difficult site. He noted that the plan calls for the rear portion of the site to either be designated a conservation easement or donated to the Town.
Councilman Bianco praised the Planning Department for the book it has put together that illustrates the Town’s vision for an enhanced Route 202. The book incorporates the planning for Route 202 that was done as part of the Sustainable Development Study. A copy of the book was given to Senator Ball who is trying to get state funds for the project.
3. Volunteer Boards (Planning Board)
The board initially voted 2-2 on a motion by Deputy Supervisor Murphy to delay a vote on the reappointment John Flynn to a new five year term on the Planning Board. Mr. Flynn has been on the board for 10 years. Deputy Supervisor Murphy and Councilman Patel voted yes and Councilmen Bianco and Paganelli against the motion. In response to Deputy Supervisor Murphy’s argument that the vote should be postponed until Supervisor Grace was present, Councilman Bianco stated that there had been enough discussion of the appointment and that the board was ready to vote on it.
Following the failure of Deputy Supervisor Murphy’s motion, Councilman Bianco made a motion to reappointment Mr. Flynn. The resolution passed 3-0 with Deputy Supervisor Murphy abstaining.
4. Resolutions passed unanimously
a. Meeting cancellation: The Town Board April 24th work session was cancelled due to the presidential primary vote.
b. Appointments: Approved the hiring a seasonal worker at $12.50/hour for the Highway Department. The person will work as a “checker” at the Organic Recycling facility, aka the Hill, on Greenwood Street.
c. Contract extension: Approved a 60 day extension of the existing contract with USA/TPA, the third party administrator for the Town’s workers’ compensation program, under the same terms as the existing contract. The extension will give Supervisor Grace time to weigh in on the renewal.
d. Bids. Approved advertising bids for asbestos air sampling and project monitoring for the Holland Sporting Club demolition project and for summer camp bus service.
Note: Item #14 on the final agenda, an executive session to discuss the third party administrator, was discussed in a pre-meeting closed session.