Town Board Work Session
July 24, 2012
Volunteer Board Interviews
1. Audit Presentation
Joseph Komek of Toski, Schaefer & Co, the Town’s outside auditors, presented a draft report on the 2011 audit. A final copy should be available in about a week.
The 73 page report concludes that there are no material weaknesses or deficiencies in the Town’s accounts and that the Town is in compliance with all applicable laws.
(note; as copies of the report were not available to the public, the following numbers, taken down during the presentation, may not be 100% accurate.)
The Town’s General Fund Balance at the end of 2011 was $6.7 million, of which $4.1 is not reserved or restricted. During 2011, the Fund Balance grew about $1.5 million. Revenues exceeded budget projections by $1.8 million; it was not clear how actual expenses varied from budget estimates.
2. Sewer truck purchase
The Board gave the sewer department the okay to purchase two additional Ford F250 trucks at an estimated cost of $76.000. Money for one truck was in the 2012 sewer budget, but a second truck had to be taken out of service. The Town is also considering buying a third used truck from the NW Joint Water Works.
3. Fire Inspector car
On the recommendation of the Central Garage, this vehicle, which needs about $2,000 worth of work, will be pulled out of service and added to the pending vehicle auction list. This limits to two the number of vehicles in the Town Hall vehicle pool which, Comptroller Joan Goldberg reported, does create logistical problems. Used
vehicles parked at the police station are being used for parts.
4. Budget transfer authority
The Board authorized the comptroller to make budget transfers of less than $5,000 for departments as long as the transfers are within the same general budget category, e.g., equipment or supplies. With the new purchase order software, if a department is $1 over its budget authorization, the requisition cannot be processed. Transfers in excess of $5,000 will have to be approved by the Board.
As an aside to the discussion, it was announced that the part time staff person who did centralized purchasing of office supplies has retired and that the purchasing has now been decentralized to the individual departments.
5. Ball field machine
The Board authorized going out to bid for a machine that prepares the clay on ball fields. The new machine, estimated to cost $14, 119, will replace a 1988 machine that is currently being used to cannibalize parts. The Parks Department has a second machine purchased in 2000. While Recreation Superintendent Gray wanted to purchase a Smithco brand machine as a sole source supplier off state contract because of its compatibility with the other machines, Supervisor Grace said he preferred to go out to bid.
6. Pool passes for emergency services volunteers
In a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Bianco voting no, the Board approved waiving the residency requirement for discount pool passes for emergency services volunteers. The waiver will enable non Yorktown residents in the Mohegan Fire Company to take advantage of the discount.
Councilman Bianco said he wanted to know how many non-residents would be eligible for the discount before voting for it; the number was not available, although Councilman Paganelli said the number was small. Councilman Bianco also raised the issue of whether, in light of this year’s falling pool revenue, the Town might want to consider selling pool permits to non-residents as a way to raise revenue. Town Attorney Koster wanted to know if non-resident town employees might also be eligible for the discount. Supervisor Grace said he looked at the additional permits as a revenue source, especially as the pools have not been crowded this year.
7. Trail extension agreement
The Board voted 4-1, with Councilman Murphy voting no, to accept joint responsibility with the NY/NJ Trail Conference for the maintenance of 900 feet of new hiking trails that will link the BJ’s shopping center to the trail system just north of the Bear Mountain Parkway at Stoney Street.
Councilman Murphy said he was voting against the resolution because he hadn’t seen it earlier. Supervisor Grace said he didn’t think the Trail Conference would actually maintain the extension and that the responsibility would ultimately fall to the town. The Town has an agreement with the Trail Conference for the non-profit group to maintain the trail system.
8. Court personnel
The Board went into closed session and went back into open session to announce that instead of having four full time and two part time clerks, it was going to eliminate the part time clerks and make 5 full time clerks. While there will be no budget impact this year, next year, because the full timer will get medical benefits, the additional cost will be $30,000. Supervisor Grace said that the added cost would be covered by the increased fees and fines levied by the court and that it was a good thing to do. Paula Giglio, currently a part timer, will become the full time clerk.
9. Sharon Lane
Highway Superintendent DiBartolo reported that the highway department had installed perforated pipe and stone along the street to deal with the water problem. The new installation, he said, was “working real well.” He added that in the course of the department’s work, a water main leak was discovered. After the work settles, the road will be repaved next year.
Highway Superintendent DiBartolo told the Board he would like an additional $200,000 for paving but would take whatever the Board gave him. In a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Murphy voting no, the Board ultimately voted to transfer $100,000 from Fund Balance to the highway department paving line. The additional money will allow paving to go forward for portions of Hanover Street and Somerston Road. Had an additional $100,000 been made available, it would have been used for portions of Front St.
Mr. DiBarto explained that given limited funds, his department paves the worst sections of several roads, rather than spending the available money to pave fewer entire roads. He said that past administrations went out of their way to “make him look horrible.”
Councilman Bianco explained that recent budgets had not included money for paving (over and above what the Town received in state CHIPS money) in order to limit the amount of the tax increase. The money has to come from somewhere, he said. In the past, he said, if there was money left over in the highway budget at the end of the year, the money was put towards paving. Supervisor Grace, noting that 80% of the calls he received from residents dealt with paving issues, said that the Town needed a long range policy dealing with paving. He added that if roads were not paved, it actually cost taxpayers more money because of the wear and tear on their cars.
Councilman Murphy voted against the budget transfer, saying he wanted to wait until budget time.
In response to a comment by Councilman Patel, Mr. DiBartolo said he would give the Board a list of streets that would be paved over the nest five years.
Mr. DiBartolo suggested that traffic counters be put on Hanover Street so that the Town could track the increased “beating” the street was taking due to the Taconic bridge repair detour. With that information, he said, the Town should appeal to the state for additional paving funds.
Holland Sporting Club
As an aside during a discussion on road paving, Supervisor Grace said that the demolition work had been completed and Highway Superintendent DiBartolo said that the building inspector would be signing off on the project. Either Mr. DiBartolo or Councilman Paganelli explained that the old bathroom building had been left standing because it might have some future benefit. The chimney was not taken down because the town’s machine could not knock it down; Mr. DiBartolo said that some people liked the chimmney and that it should be kept.
When Councilman Patel expressed concern that some oil tanks might still be located on the site, Town Clerk Roker said she thought that the facility used propone tanks and Supervisor Grace told the councilman to go look for them; he did not think there were any tanks.
12. Garbage Contract
Although not on the agenda, there were some brief comments about the Town’s intent to rebid the garbage contract in the hope of getting a lower price. Supervisor Grace said that the previous bid specs, that required the contractor to have been in business for 10 years were too restrictive and limited competition. He also questioned whether prevailing wages had to be paid. Town Clerk Roker said that if the Town tried to avoid prevailing wage requirements, the state Department of Labor would “be on your case.” Councilman Paganelli didn’t think that any other contractor could beat the CRP price and that there was no way of getting around the prevailing wage requirement.
Present at the discussion was Brian D’Amico who is interested in opening up a recycling business in Yorktown (see below) and it appeared that he might be interested in the new bid for garbage services.
13. Zoning amendments to permit recycling in industrial zones
The anticipated advertising for a public hearing to amend the zoning ordinance to allow recycling facilities in an industrial zone will have to be postponed as Al Capellini, the applicant’s attorney, said that changes needed to be made in the proposed text. The changes dealt with restrictions on outdoor storage and also the required buffer to residentially zoned property. It was explained that the only residentially zoned property in the vicinity was currently being used for ball fields by Creative Living but that someday, a subdivision plan for the property could be submitted. Mr. Capellini will work with the town attorney on the changes before the Board is ready to advertise the law.
In response to Councilman Bianco’s comments that the area “looked a mess,” the applicant, Mr. D’Amico, said it wasn’t from his property.
14. Library personnel
The Board authorized Library Director Pat Barresi to canvas the civil service list to fill a vacancy. It was not clear for what position.
15. Chamber of Commerce Street Festival
The Board approved the Chamber posting temporary banners to promote the festival on Route 6 & the Taconic Parkway and in front of the Chase Bank at the intersection of Commerce Street and Route 118. The banners will be up from August 15 to October 15. Mr. Visconti explained that last year, P&M Electric made its bucket truck available to Parks personal to put up the banner; he wanted to know who would put it up this year as the Town no longer has a small bucket truck.
16. Senior Nutrition Center
The Board approved about $37,000 in final change orders for the senior nutrition center renovation.
17. Bernstein House
The Board went into closed session to discuss the property. Participating in the discussion was realtor Bill Primavera and two members of the Town’s Community Housing Board. Town Attorney Koster explained that real estate negotiations were a permitted closed session discussion,
18. Zoning Amendment to allow keeping backyard chickens
A resident interested in keeping chickens on her property asked the Board to amend the zoning ordinance which now requires a minimum of 5 acres for a farm use. In contrast, the code requires 2 acres to keep one horse, and a half acre for each additional horse.
Supervisor Grace said he was supportive of the idea of amending the Zoning Code but that the Board had to figure out the best way to amend the Code; whether it should restrict the number of chickens based on the size of the parcel, or the size of the permitted coops, which he said, effectively limited the number of chickens. There was some concern that allowing any chickens on half acre parcels could be a problem. Also to be decided was whether any proposed amendment should be limited to just chickens or other fowl or other livestock. Supervisor Grace asked the resident to work with the town attorney to come up with possible language.
19. Shrubbery obstruction on Clearview and Meadowcrest Road
Several area residents expressed concern that the 6-8’ high shrubberies on Meadowcrest limited sight view lines and created a traffic problem. Because the house is located on a “curve” in the road as opposed to being a “corner” lot, the current restrictions in the Town Code do not apply and the Town’s code enforcement officer and highway department have no power to require the property owner to cut them back.
The only recourse, Supervisor Grace explained, is to determine if the shrubs are on private property or a part of the Town’s right of way. If the former, he said, nothing could be done, other than asking the property owner to trim the bushes. He directed the town attorney to review a copy of the original subdivision map to see where the Town’s right of way existed. If the shrubs are in the right of way, the Town can remove them.
20. Request to dead end Wildwood Street
A resident of Wildwood Street asked the Board to dead end Wildwood as a way to control traffic on the street. Supervisor Grace explained that that could not be done. He suggested that a weight limit for the street might be possible and when Councilman Paganelli suggested speed bumps, Town Clerk Roker said “don’t go there.”
Councilman Murphy will visit the site with the Town’s traffic safety officer to see what can be done to reduce speeding on the street.
21. Baptist Church Road culvert repair
In a unanimous vote, the Board authorized the condemnation of the property and granted a wetlands permit.
22. Mohegan Lake Improvement District wetlands permit
Representatives of the MLID were before the Board to begin the process for a new permit to replace their expiring 3 year permit (a one year permit, with 2 annual renewals). The town clerk will refer out the application for comment and once the information is returned, the Board will schedule a public hearing.
It was suggested that to eliminate the need for the group to return every three years for a new permit, that issuing a maintenance type permit might be a more efficient route. Because MLID is a taxing district, Councilman Bianco said that the Board typically waives the application fee. He did not think the fee should be waived for non-taxing districts, such as a local church.
23. Water meter upgrade program
Water Distribution Superintendent Rambo gave the Board an update on what had been spent to date on Phase I of the program. Approximately $862,000 has been spent on installing the monitoring infrastructure and replacing 943 meters, leaving 1,452 still to be replaced. The accuracy rate for the meters that have been replaced was 85%.
Supervisor Grace repeated his concerns about the project, saying that he did not think the job was bid properly because it only included the replacement of 2500 meters, while the distribution system has 10,000 meters; the fact that some of the meters that were replaced (including his) were not the older manual read meters that were the ones that were supposed to be replace; and that it was unconstitutional for the Town to go into someone’s home because the monitoring system was recording a spike in usage. The supervisor also was concerned that the bid from a second vendor with a less expensive technology was not considered and that because of the way the original contract was bid, the Town was now locked into a technology. Town Clerk Roker also expressed misgivings about how the original bid was advertised and said she would call the state comptroller’s office.
Supervisor Grace also raised questions as to whether the Town should proceed with Phase II or use the fund balance money for other purposes which he did not specify.
Mr. Rambo acknowledged that there had been an error in replacing about 10% of the meters and that he would check to make sure that the remaining meters to be replaced were only the older ones. He defended the previous Board’s selection of the monitoring technology as being superior to the less expensive system and he also said that the infrastructure installed as part of phase I was always meant to cover all 10,000 meters in the system. Councilman Bianco saw nothing wrong with how the original bid specs were drawn up.
While Supervisor Grace said the new system would have no effect on reducing the water loss in the system, Councilman Patel disagreed and was a strong supporter of the new system.
No decisions were made other than the Water Department will continue to install the remaining meters in Phase I and that the program will be evaluated before proceeding to Phase II.
24. Changed meeting time
The Board’s August 7th meeting will begin at 5pm instead of 6pm. The first hour will be a closed session for interviews.