Town Board Work Session
May 29, 2012
a. Audit Committee
Acting on the recommendation of Joe Klimek, the Town’s outside auditor, the board reached consensus to appoint a 5-7 member citizen’s committee to review the Town’s financial reports and take on an as yet unspecified agenda of other financial issues, including whether there should be a fund balance policy that would influence future tax rates, i.e., whether fund balance is used to keep tax rate increases stable from year to year. A resolution creating the committee will likely be voted on at the June 5th board meeting when the board will solicit interest to serve on the committee.
Mr. Klimek explained that state law already requires school districts to have these committees and that the idea is catching on in municipalities. In essence, board members felt that the committee could give the board “another set of eyes” and potentially suggest new ideas. The committee will act only in an advisory capacity.
All the board members supported the concept. Supervisor Grace noted the value of getting the public more involved in the budgeting process as early as possible, adding that while Town Board decisions might be influenced by political ramifications, a citizen’s committee would not be susceptible to such pressures. In response, Councilman Bianco noted that a citizen’s committee could be a scapegoat for a board that wanted to raise taxes.
b. KVS procurement software/budget transfers
Comptroller Joan Goldberg informed the board that highway and finance department staff have been trained on the new KVS purchase order software. She also explained that because the software will not let the department overspend a budget line, budget transfers will be needed from time to time. Last year, she explained, the board gave the supervisor the authority to approve budget transfers up to $10,000. As the current board did not renew that authority, all future budget transfers will have to be approved by the board. When Supervisor Grace said it was understandable that some line items might be under or over budgeted and that transfers would be necessary and Councilman Paganelli noted there will be $36,000 in additional expenses for the pool repairs and Sparkle Lake lifeguards, Councilman Bianco noted that those two expenses were items the board chose to do because the town had the money.
c. Financial reports
Ms. Goldberg asked the board for feedback on the variety of financial reports she gave them. She also reminded board members that the expense ledger is updated monthly on the Town’s web site.
d. Computer upgrades
When Ms. Goldberg asked the board if they had any questions about the proposed list of computer upgrades that was ready to go out to bid (see earlier discussion), Councilman Patel said that he had been kept in the dark about the upgrades, questioned who put her in charge of IT, and why someone who knows about IT issues had not been brought into the discussion. In response, Ms. Goldberg said that she had been put in charge of IT 16 years ago and Councilman Paganelli added that the Town’s relies on its IT consultant, Sullivan Data, for guidance.
At issue was how soon the board would be ready to advertise the bid. She pointed out that the bid package included scanners that were an integral part of having departments use the new KVS purchase order software. Police Chief McMahon explained that his department urgently needed a new PC in order to comply with requests from the DA’s office for DVDs of videos taken by patrol car cameras (the department’s existing stand alone PC doesn’t have enough memory or RAM for the task) and asked that if the bid was delayed, that he be given permission to purchase the PC separately.
When Highway Superintendent DiBartolo told the board that his department urgently needed the new copier, Supervisor Grace said that he was welcome to “borrow” a copier/scanner that had been left in his private offices by a former tenant as an interim measure. Instead of purchasing a copier off the state bid at a cost of $5,399 at no interest over 48 months, the machine will be added to the bid package.
When, later in the meeting, Planning Director John Tegeder also told the board of his department’s need for a new copier/scanner, Ms. Goldberg advised the board that that purchase had been put off last year pending the planned merger of the planning, engineering, and Building Departments. Under that arrangement, the three departments would have shared the new copier/scanner that was installed in Town Hall. Now that consolidation plan was off the table, she said she had no problem adding the additional scanner/copier to the bid package.
Although initially, Supervisor Grace said he needed more time to review the proposed bid package, the board eventually decided that it would advertise the package at the June 5th meeting.
e. Capital projects: Holland Sporting and Open Space acquisition
The board agreed that at the June 5th meeting, it will set up separate capital project accounts for the Holland Sporting Club and open space borrowings. It is anticipated that the Holland job will come in under $125,000.
Ms. Goldberg said that approximately $1.8 million was still available in the original $5 million bond authorization for the purchase of open space. However, she added, the original authorization was only good for 10 years so a new authorization may be needed before any additional funds are borrowed.
Although not on the agenda, Councilman Patel brought up the status of the purchase of the emergency generators at the YCCC and Town Hall. Supervisor Grace said he would put the topic on a future agenda. Highway Superintendent DiBartolo told the board that Con Ed has advised him that the utility company was willing to extend its gas line that currently ends at the highway garage to town hall at no cost. This would change the type of generator that would be needed for town hall.
3. Stormwater Annual Report
Bruce Barber, the Town’s environmental consultant, presented the annual stormwater report that the Town is required to submit to the NYS DEC. The report details the Town’s efforts over a 12 month period in six categories to eliminate phosphorous from stormwater. In response to Councilman Bianco’s question as to whether there was any way to measure if there has been an improvement in water quality, Mr. Barber responded that while there are no current measurements, he anticipated that by 2015, the DEC will be implementing a series of performance testing requirements.
In response to questions from the board, Ken Belfer, a member of the Town’s Stormwater Committee and the chairman of the Mohegan Lake Improvement District, advised the board that his group is continuing its efforts to improve the quality of the lake, adding that the water was tested every two weeks. Mr. Barber explained that there are different standards for drinking water, swimming and stormwater.
A copy of the annual report is available on the Town’s web site, wwww.yorktownny.org.
4. Hallocks Mill Pump Stations
(note: this observer participated in the discussion.)
Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson explained that as far back as 2007, the need to upgrade several pump stations had been identified and that the Jefferson Valley and Walden Woods pump stations were among the top priority projects. However, before the Town can proceed with any upgrade plans, a decision needs to be made whether the pump stations will continue to flow to the Hallocks Mill plant on Greenwood Street or be divered to the Peekskill sewage treatment plant as part of a partial diversion plan proposed by Supervisor Grace. Under the partial diversion plan, if flows from those pump stations were diverted to the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District, flows to the Hallocks Mill plant would be reduced by an average of 200,0000 mg (gallons per day) during dry days or one million mgd during rain events and this would free up capacity in the town’s treatment plant for currently unsewered parcels. The Peekskill plant has a 10mdgt capacity and is currently operating, on dry days at about 7 million mgd.
Whether diversion is doable, she said, depends on whether there was a political will to move forward on the idea. Supervisor Grace said that he had had a conversation with Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi and that she was very receptive to the idea and might be willing to abandon some of the future capacity being reserved for Cortlandt. Also on the table was giving Cortlandt temporary access to Yorktown’s sewer system along Route 6. He said that a meeting was being set up with county and Cortlandt officials to discuss future allocations to the plant as well as Route 202 issues.
As for money , he acknowledged that either rebuilding the pump stations, or rebuilding and redirecting them to Peekskill would be a town expense but he said the town could tap into the $10 million in East of Hudson (EOH) money that was set aside several years ago for Yorktown to pay for other major infrastructure work needed to make diversion feasible.
Susan Siegel, a long time spokesperson for the unsewered Hallocks Mill homeowners posed a series of questions to the board that she said had to be part of any partial diversion plan. These included what the cost implications would be to the approximately 600-700 homeowners whose sewage would be diverted to Peekskill as well as the remaining homeowners in the Hallocks Mill district. She also questioned whether Peekskill and Cortlandt were ready to give up capacity in the Peekskill plant to Yorktown and cautioned that it could take 1-2 years to before any decision was made on diversion. In the meantime, she said, the town couldn’t proceed with the pump station upgrades because that work would depend on which plant received the flow. She also cautioned that if the $10 million EOH funds were used for infrastructure instead of their planned use to offset the cost of constructing the lateral sewer lines, the cost of sewers would escalate and more homeowners would opt out of wanting sewers.
In response, Supervisor Grace said that it was time for Yorktown to think boldly and use its political muscle to make this happen. He said that the DEP variance regulations could never be attained. Without going into detail, he suggested that the Jefferson Valley and Walden Woods homeowners would stay in the Hallocks Mill district and that the town would contract the flow to Peekskill. Also, that opening up capacity at the Greenwood Street plant would allow more commercial rateables into the Hallocks Mill district, which would help lower the cost for homeowners.
In addition to the issue of reducing future flow volumes into the Yorktown plant, Ms. Robinson said the town also has to address the fact that some of the existing sewer trunk lines may have to be upgraded in order to handle any additional flows.
Both Ms. Robinson and Supervisor Grace ruled out the value of doing any further studies to identify how the inflow and infiltration of stormwater into the sewer interceptor lines during rain events could be reduced.
5. Treetops Rehabilitation and Care Center
Based on information supplied by the applicant at the end of the meeting, the brief discussion focused on the applicant’s request that the board advertise a public hearing on its application for a special use permit to add approximately 2,900 square feet of additional space to its existing building. The ZBA has issued the needed variance.
6. YCCC Senior Center
At the request of Planning Director John Tegeder, the board said it would approve at the June 5th meeting, an additional $3,400 for Sullivan Architects. He added that he is still reviewing some change orders from the contractor but that he did not anticipate that the finished project would exceed the $531,000 that had been set aside for it.
In response to a question from Councilman Bianco on the status of the old "Liebell" grant, Mr. Tegeder said that Mary DeSilva was following up with Senator Ball's office on the availability of the grant money.
7. Metro/PCS cell tower at Mohegan storage tank site
In a brief discussion, Town Attorney Koster advised the board that at a meeting she attended with the supervisor and representatives of the cell tower company, “everything had been taken care of” and that it was decided that existing equipment at the location did not have to be relocated and that the water department could find other ways to access the tanks. Also, the existing lease will be modified to allow the companies to raise the tower by 4-5 feet.
8. Ethics Board
Three members of the Ethics Board met with the board requesting its approval on a set of procedures that will govern the operation of the Ethics Board and explain to residents how they can file complaints that the group. As there were no comments on the procedures, the board agreed that it would adopt the document by resolution at the June 5th meeting.
In a related issue, when the group asked the Town Board to fill a vacancy on the Ethics Board and Supervisor Grace said that the daughter of a former town justice had expressed interest in joining the group and that an interview with her should be set up, Richard Rubenstein, the group’s chairman said that one person shouldn’t be picked “out of the hat” for the opening but that resumes from other interested people should be reviewed. It was not clear whether other resumes had been submitted.
The Town Board briefly went into closed session to review the Ethic Board’s findings on a particular complaint. Returning to open session, and without any discussion, the Town Board voted to accept the Ethic Board’s recommendation. Joan Landzberg, a member of the Ethics Board, told the board that some issues that have come before the board didn’t actually fall within the board’s purview.
9. Winery at Old St. Georges
Members of the Conservation Board (CB) and Advisory Committee on Open Space (ACOS) met with the board to discuss two issues relating to the Winery’s proposed use of a portion of town-owned parkland for 12 additional parking spaces. While the Conservation Board was concerned about the proposed mitigation measures in the wetland buffer, the ACOS members were concerned about using town parkland for a commercial purpose.
Wetland buffer. The key issue was the CB’s request for more details about the plantings in the proposed swale (depression) along Route 6 that would capture, retain and treat stormwater. Whereas the latest version of the site plan said that an appropriate “seed mix” would be used in the swale, CB members Phyllis Bock and Diane Drier said that more detail was needed on the exact plants and shrubs to be planted. Grass will die, they said, adding that the swale was planned as a permanent mitigation feature. When Winery owner Tom DeChiaro and his engineer Jeff Econom said, “tell us what we have to plant,” Ms. Drier told them that as a volunteer advisory board, the CB could give them suggestions but that they would have to hire a landscape architect to work out the actual plan. Mr. Econom added that since the swale would be on DOT property, the agency would have to okay any proposed plantings. He also suggested that the selection would be influenced by the road salt and other debris likely to impact on any plantings.
The upshot of the discussion was that Ms. Drier will email a list of suggested plantings and the applicant will follow up with the DOT.
Use of Parkland: John Schroeder, speaking on behalf of the ACOS, reiterated the group’s opposition to the use of parkland for the use of a commercial property. Calling the use an “alienation” of parkland, he reiterated the group’s suggestion that the state Parks Department be asked for an advisory option on whether or not the proposed used did in fact constitute “alienation.” He also reiterated the need for a plan for the 14 acre parkland site, noting that the best use of some parkland is that it be left alone. A study might show, he added, that the site should not be accessible to the public.
In response to comments that there were eagle scouts ready to build trails into the wetland as part of the site’s “educational use,” Ms. Bock said that a similar project at Teatown Reservation had failed and had to be rebuilt and Mr. Schroeder said that many proposed scout projects never materialized.
Reading from an email from a concerned resident, Councilman Paganelli asked the following questions.
1. who would plow the lot in the winter when it wasn’t being used for educational purposes. The response was the Town.
2. who would have liability if someone had an accident in the lot, or in the Winery’s lot that was the access to the town-owned lot. Answer. The Town would be liable for the town-owned land and the Winery, for accidents that happened on its property.
In response to the many comments, Supervisor Grace said he totally rejected the “alienation” argument, noted that only about 800 square feet of the 14 acre site was going to be used for parking, and that it was a benefit to the town to have the buffer area, that he categorized as a “dump,” cleaned up. He said that allowing a business to operate benefited the quality of life for all Yorktowners.
Councilman Paganelli, saying that it was time to “cut to the chase,” said that for him the bottom line was that it was better to see the wetland buffer cleaned up.
Councilman Bianco said that everyone had made some good points. He suggested that the use of the town land be separated from the rezoning request, adding that the rezoning request parcel could proceed while an application for a wetlands permit was filed for the town owned land. Commenting on the procedural issues, Planning Director John Tegeder said that the board could proceed with the planned June 5th vote on the rezoning as long as the approving resolution included conditions relating to the plantings in the swale and the granting of the required wetlands permit. He will work with the town attorney on the approving resolution.
The applicant will also amend its previously submitted Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) which he ACOS said did not address the latest plan.
10. Highway Department truck purchases
a. Vactor coating. The board gave Highway Superintendent DiBartolo permission to sign a $8,500 contract with a company that will coat the inside of a vactor truck his department shares with the sewer department. The 20 year old truck that has been rebuilt is used to clean out sewer lines and catch basins. He came to the board for approval because it appeared that there was a problem getting the required three quotes for the job.
b. Truck purchase. Calling attention to the fact that the state contract price isn’t always the lowest price, Mr. DiBartolo advised the board that the town received a bid for the dump truck of $180,938 that was lower than the state contract price of $207,643.
He then proceeded to ask the board for permission to buy a second truck, using the $200,000 a previous board had okayed for a truck purchase and adding $161,876 from the existing snow line. (With the salt barn fully loaded, he felt confident about reallocating the money.) He then added that the town had a had of using the roughly $361,000 to purchase the trucks, or the town could bond the expense and use the $361,000 for paving. If the $361,000 was made available for paving, it could be used on conjuction with the $294,000 the town will be receivinfg for paving as part of the CHJIPS program, and the $130,000 he said he anticipates as a reimbursement from FEMA for Hurricane Irene expenses.
When Deputy Town Clerk Quast raised the issue of whether the earlier bid was for one or two trucks, Mr. DiBartolo assured the board that the bid stated the possibility that the town might purchase two trucks. (Note: this was an issue that was raised in the 2010 state audit.)
Mr. DiBartolo explained that in the past, the town would purchase new trucks every other year from current operating budget but that had stopped as of about 2004. That led to a philosophical discussion of whether trucks should be bonded. No decision was made pending input from the Comptroller.
11. Bernstein House
Although not on the agenda, the board briefly discussed the standard broker contract that Supervisor Grace had signed with realtor Bill Primavera for marketing the parcel. Town Attorney Koster said that she had not had an opportunity to review the agreement prior to the Supervisor signing it and expressed concern that the standard document did not include what Mr. Primavera said he would do in the RFP that the board relied on when it selected Mr. Primavera. The agreement sets the listing price at $215,000. Although the overall site is 7+ acres, 5 acres have a conservation easement and the parcel can be subdivided into two lots. The board will vote on the contract at the June 5th meeting.
Without any explanation, the board voted on two personnel resolutions. (After checking with the Deputy Town Clerk after the meeting, it was learned that one resolution appointed Yolanda Vasquez as assistant court clerk and Keith DeVito as a Motor Equipment Operator (MEO). The clerk did not know if Mr. DeVito was a new appointment or whether the MEO position was a promotion.)
13. Miscellaneous resolutions
By unanimous votes, the board voted to authorize the Supervisor to sign an agreement for Westlaw online legal services at a cost of $900 per month and with Integrated Biometric Technology for fingerprinting services for town personnel and contractors working in high security police areas.