June 20, 2017
1. 2016 Audit
(Note: without a copy of the actual report, the CIY observer could not verify the numbers that were read off quickly. A copy of the audit will be posted on the town web site.) The town’s outside auditor reported that the town is in good financial condition and that the unassigned General Fund fund balance stands at $10.720 million, a 118% increase over the $4.896 million in 2013. (Note: the unassigned is money available to spend and not otherwise committed to pay future expenses.)
For 2016, revenue was $2.3 million more than budgeted, with increases from mortgage tax, interest and penalties, sales tax, franchise fees, and department revenue. The auditor noted that much of this additional revenue was beyond the town’s control.
Expenses, which the auditor said the town can control, came in $2.4 million less than budgeted, due in part to what Supervisor Grace called the clean, meaner, tighter budgeting and hard work of town employees. One of the major savings was a large reduction in the police retirement expense. The auditor noted that as retirement payments are tied to the stock market’s performance, it was anticipated that the town’s retirement payments will go down again next year.
Supervisor Grace repeated many of the upcoming infrastructure projects he has talked about in previous meetings.
The supervisor also explained that because of the tax cap and the way the state’s rebate program works, he did not recommend using the fund balance to lower taxes because that could lead to tax problems in the future and jeopardize homeowner state rebate checks.
2. Tompkins Garage, Route 129/Public Hearing
(See Town Board 5/9/2017 and 3/28/2017.) Mr. Capellini and Mr. Riina explained the project. The only public comment was from a neighbor who said she supported the project. The station will operate from 8-5pm and some adjustment may be needed in the lighting for the winter months so that there’s no glare onto the road. The hearing was closed and the board anticipates voting on an approving resolution at its next meeting.
3. Faraway Farms, Baptist Church Rodd/Public hearing on wetlands permit
(See Town Board 4/25/2017.) The project was explained. There were no public comments. The hearing was closed. Initially Supervisor Grave wanted to postpone voting to approve the permit because he hadn’t read the engineer’s draft resolution, but because the applicant wants to get started on the project during the summer, later in the meeting the board approved the engineer’s resolution.
4. Tree law/public hearing
Supervisor Grace and the town attorney explained the amendment that would remove the exemption of town owned from the law. He said his initial reasoning in 2016 when the law was passed with the exemption was that it didn’t make sense for the town need a permit to remove trees on town land because that would make the town judge, jury, and executor. However, in consideration of comments from residents, he was changing his mind. He also said that the town was planning a mitigation plan for the planned Granite Knolls sports complex that he hoped would set a “shining example” for others on how mitigation would work.
Approximately 13 people spoke in support of the amendment but added that more changes were needed in order to strengthen the law, including covering more trees, stronger mitigation, protecting woodlands and requiring referrals to the Conservation Board and Tree Conservation Advisory Commission where the current law made referral optional or had no referral requirement. The speakers wanted the board to hold off adopting the single amendments and consider other amendments at the same time. One speaker talked about the economic benefits of trees.
Two people questioned the process that led to the adoption of the 2016 law and said they thought the Town Board wasn’t listening to residents and experts. One speaker implied that the supervisor was representing other interests. There were no speakers in support of the current law.
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary and speaking on behalf of Yorktown Together, presented the board with a suggested revised law and requested that the board work with the group to develop a stronger law that would be the subject of a new public hearing.
A letter from the Bedford Audubon Society in support of a stronger law was read.
After closing the hearing, an angry Supervisor Grace took issue with some of the statements saying that he felt “poked in the eye” and “bludgeoned.” He accused the speakers of waiting until the 11th hour to speak up and said that there had been considerable input from the town’s advisory boards and environmental consultant in 2016 prior to the adoption of the new law. Later in the evening, he apologized for his “hot tempered” outburst.
The hearing was closed but the board took no action. The hearing was televised and is available on the town web site.
5. BJ’s Gas station sign
The board approved an amendment the special permit for the gas station that will allow the sign to be about 5 square feet larger than originally approved in order to accommodate a new sign directing drivers to the diesel pumps. Mr. Tegeder advised the board that the need for a separate diesel sign had been overlooked when the plan was originally prepared and that a sign directing drivers to the diesel pumps would enhance safety on the site.
6. Tax Certiorari Settlement
The board approved three settlements for 1761 Front Street, 1736 Front Street and 224 Moseman Road, all owned by the same parties. The settlement covered 201 thru 2016. more clearly directing
7. Fluoridation grant
The board authorized the town to piggy back with Cortlandt on a water quality improvement grant Cortlandt was planning to do. The Yorktown part would be to construct the fluoridation sytem for Yorktown only. The rationale for the joint project was that by combining the two projects, Yorktown’s costs would be lower.
8. Courtesy of the Floor
Shrub Oak International School. Dan Strauss took exception to comments made by the school’s attorney at a recent Planning Board meeting to the effect that Yorktown residents who didn’t live in the immediate area of the school had no business commenting on the proposed helistop. In separate comments later in the meeting, Supervisor Grace took exception to a letter to the editor about the pilot agreement that lowered the school’s taxes for 5 years.
Granite Knolls Sports Complex hearing: Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked the board to televise the upcoming July 11 hearing that will be at a work session meeting that is not ordinarily televised. She said the public has not had an opportunity to comment on the plan. Supervisor Grace didn’t respond, except to say that the hearing couldn’t be delayed because work needed to start soon on the fields so that they could be in use by the time Legacy fields was closed for pipeline construction.
Drainage issue: A resident of Friends Road expressed her frustration over the flooding she had experienced due to some drainage work her neighbor did without any permits. She said she has been cited with a violation notice even though she has not commenced any corrective work while her neighbor who caused the problem hasn’t been cited. Supervisor Grace said that there was a solution to a larger issue that involved town land and some of the private lots on the street and he advised the resident to speak with her lawyer. When she said she didn’t want taxpayers to spend money on the project and only wanted her neighbor cited for what he had done, the supervisor told her that the town court couldn’t grant her any relief and that she would have to go to Supreme Court.