Town Board Work Session
Third party administrator (Workers’ Compensation)
1. Crompond Crossing
An item not on the agenda. There was a brief discussion that was not audible to the public about the need for an IMA (intermunicipal agreement) to move the project forward and concern over issues dealing with bonding and infrastructure improvements. It was not clear what the outcome of the discussion was.
2. Bernstein House
An item not on the agenda. Bill Primavera, the realtor selected to market the property, reported that he had received two offers and that one of them, from Franzoso Contracting, was a plan that was in accord with his long held wish that the property be restored. (The details of the second offer were never discussed.)
The details of the Franzoso proposal were contained in documents that were not discussed, but as summarized by Mr. Primavera, they included:
· A cash payment to the town of $150,000
· The restoration of the barn and building using “green” materials
· The restored barn, with seating capacity, will be made available to small theater groups, school, senior and other non profit groups.
· The property would be subdivided to allow the contractor to build a second market rate house on the site
Town Attorney Koster explained that a proposed conservation easement had been mapped out for the site as part of the prior sale that fell through but that the actual legal paperwork had never been filed when the sale fell through. Supervisor Grace suggested that before a contract was drawn up, the contractor check out the property to see if the proposed easement would impact his plans for the subdivision. He also suggested that the town might want to wave the recreation fee for the subdivision.
Although initially concerned that he hadn’t seen the details of the proposal, when given a second document, Councilman Bianco said he had no problem with the proposal.
The town attorney was directed to draft a contract. The sale will be subject to a permissive referendum.
3. Six month financial update
Comptroller Joan Goldberg gave the Board a three-part financial update: on the fund balance, how 2012 revenue and expense numbers were tracking compared to budget estimates, and 2013 budget issues. The report showed that the Town was “in good shape.”
Long range planning
Supervisor Grace said he asked for the tracking update as he knew the Town had been buying a lot and he wanted to know what monies were available for other possible economic development projects he had in mind, such as the Route 202 road and drainage improvements which he said would require the Town to hire outside professional services. He said that the Town had to have a “vision” and have projects ready and on the shelf so that when grant money became available, the Town would have a better chance of getting funds. He said that the state’s regional councils had a lot of money available but that Yorktown had nothing to offer in the way of shovel ready projects. There was also money available for MS4 stormwater improvements. He specifically mentioned the proposed State Lane parcel on Route 202. Councilman Murphy supported this line of thinking, adding that when he and the supervisor met with DOT officials they wanted to know “how far along” the Route 202 projects were.
Councilman Bianco said that some pre planning had been done for Route 202 as part of the 2004 Sustainable Development Study and that any new Route 202 planning would have to be done in conjunction with the DOT. He reminded the Board that when the Town spent $400,000 of its own money to make the right turn lane at Lexington Avenue, the state later tore up the work and redid the intersection –at no cost to Cortlandt.
Plannning Director Tegeder said that having shelf ready plans somewhere between concept and final engineering was helpful in securing grants.
Comptroller Goldberg reported that based on current revenue receipts and expenses, the Town could end 2012 shy about $170,000. While sales tax revenue was tracking on target, mortgage tax revenue was 3% under projections. Antenna rent was up 10% and fines and bail up 20%. Building permits were also higher than projected but she noted that this was because of two one-time projects. Offsetting the gains was a 23% overage in police overtime.
She reported that the Town would be receiving about $300,000 in state CHIPS money for road paving, an increase from the conservatively budgeted $240,000. When asked how much the Town could expect from FEMA reimbursements for Hurricane Irene, Supervisor Grace said he didn’t know the exact number but he said it would be “significant.” He said that when the money is received, it should go back to the departments that laid out money during the storm.
Ms. Goldberg asked the board for permission to buy new copier machines for the Highway and Planning Departments off state contract as opposed to the prices included in the recently awarded “local” bid. She explained that while the local bid price for the copiers was 10% less than the state price, the copiers off the state contract could be paid for over 48 months at no interests which was a better deal for the town than saving $500. The town okayed the purchase.
Ms. Goldberg reported that as of the end of 2011, the total fund balance was $6.6 million, but that the unreserved balance (money not already committed for other uses) was $4.3 million. However, since $600,000 of the unreserved amount was already committed (for PBA raises, the Holland Club demolition and legal settlements), the actual amount left in the unreserved fund balance was $3.7 million. She added that a $3 million fund balance was a “safe” number.
Supervisor Grace repeated his suggestion that the Board needed to adopt a fund balance policy. (See discussion at 6/28/2012 meeting.) Having such a policy, he suggested, would add to the Town’s credibility. When Councilman Paganelli noted that a healthy fund balance was a factor in getting a better bond rating, Supervisor Grace said that with interest rates as low as they are, the bond rating didn’t matter. Councilman Bianco said that this was an issue that should be discussed at budget time. No one offered any precise suggestions on what would be an appropriate amount to keep in the fund balance,
Ms. Goldberg reminded the Board that recent budgets had not included money for paving or vehicle purchases.
Ms. Goldberg said that the town currently had $900,000 in long term debt for one of the town’s two pools. That debt will be paid off in two years. The $1.7 million cost for rebuilding the second pool was financed from fund balance. She anticipated that some of the town’s current $8.5 million in short term debt, mostly for sewer projects, would be converted to long term bonds to take advantage of the current interest rates.
2013 budget projections
Comptroller Goldberg reported that based on current projections of increased expenses, the 2013 budget would need at additional $1 million. Using the rule of thumb that for every $178,000 that has to be raised, there’s a 1% impact on the tax rate, she said this gap would mean a 5.66% tax increase. Anticipated expense increases included: $275,000 for medical benefits, $290,000 to replace what was taken from the fund balance in the 2012 budget, $418,000 for PBA raises and $24,000 to cover CSEA raises ($100,000 of this expense was already included in the 2012 budget).
If the 2013 budget stayed within the 2% tax levy guidelines, the town would only be able to increase its expenditures by $351,000, leaving a $650,000 shortfall. The options for addressing the potential shortfall would be:
· Exceeding the 2% cap
· Taking money from fund balance (which would create problems with the 2014 budg3et)
· Lower expenses
· Find additional revenue sources
Ms. Goldberg added that the assessor has estimated that the value of the assessment roll would decrease by about $260,000 year and that this would have an impact on the tax rate
4. Microfilming town records
Building Inspector John Winter requested authorization to proceed with a $6,700 expense to microfilm department records, an annual project for which money is included in the department’s budget. He said boxes of files to be microfilmed have been waiting in his office since the Town’s yearly records management day in February.
The request led to a discussion of microfilming vs digitizing and how soon the data transfer could be done. While Board members supported the concept of digitizing, the issue was one of time as the Town already has a contract for the microfilming and the work could begin quickly while digitizing would require going out for a new bid and would take longer. A second option was doing the microfilming initially and then later, once the town was ready to go digital, the microfilmed records could be digitized. Supervisor Grace preferred to postpone the microfilming and wait until the town was ready to digitize. Councilman Patel felt that the department should be allowed to proceed with the microfilming. When Mr. Winter said he was concerned that it could take the town a year to get the digitizing contract in order, Supervisor Grace said bid specs could be done in 3-4 weeks.
Deputy Town Clerk Diana Quast said that her office also uses microfilm and had some privacy issues with digital records. She asked that the clerk’s office be involved in any discussions going forward.
The Board did not give Mr. Winter the go ahead for the microfilming project.
5. Water meter replacement
Water Distribution Superintendent David Rambo was requesting the Board’s permission to proceed with Phase II of the meter replacement program in order to take advantage of economies of scale.
Phase I included the installation of the electronic equipment to “read” the meters” and the installation of 2,500 meters to replace the oldest meters in the system. The installation work began in May and to date 700 new meters have been installed. Phase II, at a cost of $3.5 million, would include installing the new meters for the water district’s remaining 10,000 customers. Mr. Rambo explained that under the more limited Phase I, the installers have to travel to different parts of town and that it would be more efficient and reduce labor costs if the installation work could be done on a neighborhood basis. It would also mean that the installation project could be completed sooner.
Mr. Rambo said that when the old meters that have been replaced were tested, they were only 85% accurate. This translated into a revenue loss to the town of $652,000 a year, which also meant that the entire cost of the project would be paid back in five years. (The Town is billed by the Joint Water Works for the water it consumes and the Town recoups the cost based on how it bills residents; when meters underreport usage, the town loses money.)
Supervisor Grace had several problems with proceeding with Phase II and with the project in general. When he questioned why the original contract for the 2,500 meters was not given to a company that had a lower per meter price, Mr. Rambo explained that the less expensive meters were not compatible with the electronic monitoring system that the town had decided to use. Mr. Grace also questioned why both phases of the project hadn’t been bid as one unit and said that he didn’t want to have problems if only one vendor bid on the Phase II meters. Comptroller Goldberg explained that as there is only one distributor for the brand of meters the town uses and which are compatible with the already installed monitoring system, the single vendor would qualify as a “sole source’ provider and would meet procurement bidding requirements. There was also a discussion about the need or possibility of separating out the labor costs from the meter costs in a Phase II contract.
While Supervisor Grace said he didn’t want to proceed with Phase II until Phase I was finished in October, Councilman Paganelli, the Town’s representative at meetings of the Joint Water Works, said that he has seen how the monitoring works and how it sends up “red flags” for the homeowner if there are sudden spikes in water usage that could be caused by leaks. Councilman Bianco said that while he initially wasn’t in favor of the project, now that we’ve started it we should continue to replace all the meters. Councilman Patel also strongly supported moving forward.
There was a concern that if the project did not go forward for the remaining 10,000 residents there would be inequities in how homeowners paid for water; those with the newer meters would be paying based on their actual consumption while residents still using older meters would not be paying their fair share.
No action was taken on proceeding with Phase II.
6. Fieldstone Manor subdivision flexibility request
(See prior Planning Board notes for background about the proposed subdivision.)
Councilman Bianco rejected the applicant’s position that he could build 16 homes under a conventional subdivision plan and instead said that 6 homes was a more likely figure. There was no further discussion on this issue.
The remaining discussion focused on whether the Town should take the ball field or the mansion. While he said he was in favor of using the town’s flexibility standards, Supervisor Grace said that the Town didn’t need any more ball fields and preferred to look into the possibility of taking the mansion which he said could be turned into a community center for the northern end of town and putting houses on the existing ball fields. He suggested that the property owner explore this possibly and see “if it works for you.” Councilman Paganelli said he thought that turning the mansion over to the town would diminish the value of the property for the owner and Councilman Bianco said that the issue was “what works best for the people of Yorktown.”
Deputy Town Clerk Diana Quast who is also the chairman of the Recreation Commission said that the Commission had visited the site and supported the plan that would leave the ball fields. She said that those fields would be more usable to the Town than the soccer field at the Fieldhome which has limitations.
Planning Director Tegeder said that the proposed plan, which had the support of the Planning Board, was one of the best layouts he had seen since he’s been in Yorktown.
Supervisor Grace did not support the idea of the tower being given to town as it would be a liability.
The Board agreed to refer the proposal out to the appropriate boards for review prior to holding a public hearing on the use of flexibility.
7. Tonndorf Hot Dog Wagon
The owner of a parcel abutting Navajo Road in the Oseola Industrial Park off Route 6 is requesting permission to sell hot dogs from a mobile trailer. Because the person addressing the board was not the owner of the parcel or of the proposed trailer, he was unable to answer questions regarding the size of the trailer and whether the trailer would be parked on the owner’s property or in the town’s right of way on Navajo Road.
If parked on the owner’s property, the use would not be permitted under the existing zoning code and the Board would have to consider amending the code to permit the use.
The Board voted to refer the application to the appropriate boards and agencies as soon as the applicant provided the missing information.
8. Reconstruction of existing access road to Hunterbrook North Siphon Chamber
In order to do work on a portion of the Catskill Aqueduct, the NYC DEP needs to access this underground chamber that is located off an access road in the vicinity of Jacob Road. The road is in disrepair and needs to be rehabilitated and, because of the amount of land disturbance, a town stormwater pollution prevention permit is required. The Board has no problem with the project and will schedule the necessary public hearing.
9. Term limits for supervisor and councilman
Ed Ciffone, Nick DiTomaso and John Monacelli of the United Taxpayers asked the Board to adopt a local law that would establish the following term limits: two consecutive 4-year terms for councilman and three consecutive 2-year terms for supervisor. The law, if adopted, would be subject to a mandatory referendum. Mr. Ciffone said that if the Board did not pass the law, the UTY could gather signatures on a petition that would trigger a referendum. He said that the term limits were needed because without them board members entrenched themselves in public office.
Both Councilman Bianco and Supervisor Grace said they were opposed to term limits and that elections basically served to limit terms. Supervisor Grace added that with a few exceptions, term limits haven’t been an issue in town. Councilman Paganelli said that while he campaigned in support of term limits, he could see the arguments on both sides of the issue. He suggested that the supervisor’s term could be extended to four years. Councilman Murphy suggested that the supervisor’s term be changed to three years, but it was explained that the supervisor election has to be in odd years. He didn’t say what his position was on the other proposed term limits. Councilman Patel appeared to favor term limits.
Mr. Ciffone repeatedly asked the supervisor to “poll” the Board but Supervisor Grace said that a resident could not tell the Board what to do. He suggested that the UTY should consider educating and exciting the voters. The discussion became testy and confrontational at times.
10. Taping work sessions
As the start of the term limits discussion, Ed Ciffone indicated that he wanted to tape record the discussion. Supervisor Grace responded that he opposed any taping which he felt would limit a candid discussion. He said that sometimes in order to facilitate a discussion he might say things in argument that he was not necessarily in agreement with and that it would be unfair to have those remarks quoted.
Supervisor Grace asked if anyone on the Board wanted to make a motion to permit the recording. When no one made a motion, the issue was dropped.
11. Phase II grant application for highway garage
Supervisor Grace said that now that the Phase I report for the highway garage site was done, he wanted the Board’s authorization to have the Planning Department submit an application to the state for a Consolidated Funding grant for Phase II. Board members had not seen the Phase I report. Both Councilman Bianco and Paganelli said they had no problem with submitting the application as long as it didn’t involve the expenditure of any Town funds. The board voted to authorize the submission.
12. Additional resolutions
a.DPW. An informational meeting on the DPW will be held on Wednesday, July 25 at 6:30pm in town hall.
b. A proposed board meeting on July 18 to interview candidates for the comptroller’s position will have to be rescheduled. A new date has not been selected.
13. Addition resolutions to be voted on July 17
a. The Board will advertise a public hearing on a proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance allowing recycling facilities in industrial zones
b. The board will waive the rental fee and security deposit for the Yorktown Historical Society’s use of the Nutrition Center room at the YCCC.
c. Other resolutions listed on the final agenda were not discussed.