September 23, 2014
(topics not identified)
1. Audit presentation
Nick DeSantis and Alan Kassay of O’Connor Davies presented the highlights of the firm’s 2013 audit. Most of their comments focused on the General Fund. Their findings were that that town is in “excellent financial condition.” and that the General Fund fund balance increased from roughly $1 million to $8.1 million, of which $4.9 million is unassigned, i.e., not already committed for other uses.
Contributing to the increase in the fund balance was the fact that revenues came in $1.8 million higher than originally budgeted, primarily from greater than anticipated revenues from sales tax, building permits, court fines and mortgage tax, while expenses were $1.3 million less than the final budget. (Note: because the budget is adjusted during the year, there’s a difference between the “original” budget and “final” budget.)
Copies of the audit are available on the town web site, www.yorktownny.org.
On the suggestion of Councilman Patel, the auditors will make a public presentation on the audit at the October 21 board meeting.
When Councilman Patel asked auditors if it was proper for the town to pay the full amount of the underbudgeted pension payments in December, 2013 but wait until April, 2014 for the board to approve the necessary $970,000 budget transfer resolution, the auditors said that they had seen the bill and that it had been paid. Supervisor Grace said that the board had authorized the payment. Mr. Patel also asked questions about the deficit of about $500,000 in the town’s workers’ compensation fund and documentation regarding how the special district fees are assessed. In response, the auditors said the workers’ compensation deficit was not dissimilar to other municipalities and that the special district fee question was more appropriately addressed during the budget process.
Supervisor Grace said that the message that needed to get out to the public was the fact that expenses were down and that department heads are saving money.
2. Library security cameras
Explaining that the CPU component of the library’s existing security camera system was “shot,” making the rest of the system unusable, Library Director Pat Barresi asked the board for authorization to spend available funds in the 2014 budget (approximately, over $10,000, but the exact amount was not clear )for a new system. The cameras would be to provide security both inside and outside the building. Councilman Murphy appeared to support the idea but Supervisor Grace was opposed to it, without going into details why. He said he would visit the library and review the state of the current system with Ms. Barresi.
Textile Recovery RFP and law
RFP: Kim Angliss Gage, head of the Recycling Department, reported that the town had received four responses to the RFP for companies to pick up textiles from bins located on town property and also the proposed pick up at homes. Focusing in on the differences between two companies that both offered to pay 10cents/pound, she recommended to the board, and the board accepted her recommendation, to go with the company that would base the payment strictly on pounds collected and with a one year contract. The company’s software will be able to track the volume of collections at the 5-6 sites the town anticipates placing collection bins (possible sites are: 2 at town hall, Shrub Oak pool, library, Sparkle Lake, and possibly the YCCC) so the bins could be moved based on actual usage. In addition, Ms. Gage is proposing to spend about $2,000 to purchase clear plastic bags that will be made available to homeowners who want to dispose of textiles at curbside.
Law: Town Attorney Koster reviewed the text of a draft law that would allow businesses to apply for permits to have collection bins on their property. The permits would be granted by the building inspector, or the approval authority if the location involved a site plan. Based on feedback from the board, she will make changes to the draft governing the number of bins permitted on site (it will be a sliding scale based on acreage). The board agreed to a $300/year fee on the theory that the town’s goal was to restrict the number of bins. A public hearing on a revised draft is expected October 21. Supervisor Grace said that as this law would be something very new, the town could always amend the law after a year based on experience.
YCCC Sunday closing
Rose Menes, owner of the Westchester Ballet Center which has been renting space in the YCCC for about 36 years, asked the board to reconsider the decision made a few years ago to close the building on Sunday. She was specifically interested in about seven Sundays needed for rehearsals. Tenants can use the building on Sunday but have to pay $75/hour (or more) to cover the cost of having a town building maintenance employee on the premises. Ms. Menes said that a recent Sunday use had cost her $700, adding that when the Yorktown Stage used the building on Sunday, it did not have to pay the fee. In response, Supervisor Grace pointed out that the Stage’s use of the building was limited to a specific area. Ms. Menes also told the board that she had a petition signed by sports group asking for the Sunday opening.
Supervisor Grace said that if the town opened the building for the ballet center, it would have to open it to all users. He said he would meet with her to discuss the issue.
5. Town-wide phone system
Explaining that the town’s existing phone system was more than 20 years old, Margaret Gspurning, head of building maintenance, discussed the need to upgrade the system to “cat-5” lines. The upgrade would involve both new wiring and the actual system. She reviewed two proposals she had received, both about the same price of about $19,910, just shy of the $20,000 threshold that requires the town to go out to bid. Everyone was in agreement that the existing system needed to be replaced and Supervisor Grace advised her to get a firm commitment from the vendor she preferred that the price would be no more than $19,910. He said that the town would save an estimated 25% on its annual phone charges, enough to pay for the new wiring and equipment in one year.
When Ms. Gspurning said she needed a resolution for $46,500 to proceed (it was not clear what the difference was between the $19,910 and the $46,500, although it might have been the purchase of phones), and someone asked where the money would come from, Supervisor Grace said “we’ll figure it out.” A resolution is expected for the next meeting.
6. Croton Heights Walls and Pillars
Members of the Croton Heights Homeowners Association asked the board to take action to repair the deteriorating pillars and walls leading into the community at Route 118 and Croton Heights Road. They said the walls and pillars, that are not on town property, were landmarks, possibly town landmarks, although that was not clear. Explaining that the walls are failing and that one of the group’s members has been doing some maintenance work on the walls to prevent further deterioration, they said that between $100,000-$150,000 was needed to correct the problem and that the project would involve the DEC and DOT because traffic on Route 118 would have to be diverted, as well as the county because the area in need of repair includes the North County Trailway. Brigit Krowe, a spokesperson for the group, said that Highway Superintendent Paganelli had advised the group that his department did not have the funds to undertake the repair. She held out the hope that there might be county or state funding to pay for the repairs.
Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy said they would take a look at the site, although the supervisor added that $150,000 was a big capital project.
As an aside, Supervisor Grace mentioned the state grant to restore the railroad station, adding that because the building has landmark status, there were strict guidelines as to how the work needed to be done. If we built a replica of the building, he said, it would cost half as much.
7. Hunterbrook North stormwater permit (access road)
By resolution, the board extended an expired excavation permit for a company that will do work on a DEP water facility in the vicinity of Jacobs Road. Since the permit was approved, approximately two years, ago, it has taken the city that much time to get other aspects of the job ready for construction.
8. Code Review
Ray Arnold asked the board for a 24 month contract, spread out over three budget years (the amount of the contract was not stated) to complete the code review he started about 2 ˝ years ago. Since the code was adopted in 1975, he said there have been many amendments to different sections and there are sections that are obsolete, such as the law that prohibits left turns from Ridge Street onto Granite Springs Road.
While there was general agreement that the code needed to be updated and that department heads didn’t have the time to do it, there was no agreement on how it should be done. Town Attorney Koster said that she was the bottleneck and that part of the problem with Mr. Arnold’s previous work is that there was no plan on how to proceed and that his review was unorganized and hard to read. She also questioned Mr. Arnold’s expertise, which is in planning, to take on the project. She also questioned whether it made sense for the board to spend its time deleting obsolete sections, although she added that this part of the update could be done all at once.
One option was reviewing the code chapter by chapter. Another was setting priorities as to which codes to address; Supervisor Grace agreed that priorities were needed and felt that work needed to be done on the environmental chapters. He asked Mr. Arnold to resubmit his proposal, but was reminded that the proposal was included in the board’s workbook for the evening, and suggested that he attend a staff meeting. If that cannot be arranged, he suggested a mini meeting with selected staff.
9. Rezoning request/1805 East Main Street, Mohegan Lake
(Note: the exact location of the parcel was not identified, but based on the discussion,it may be near Lakeland Avenue.)
The owner wants the property rezoned from office to commercial use. Supervisor Grace said that when the parcel was rezoned from commercial to office as part of the 2010 Comprehensive Plan, the change had the effect of sterilizing the property because it was too small for office use. Town Clerk Roker agreed and said she had voiced that opinion at the time. She said the reason for the change was for a use that would generate less traffic. Councilman Murphy said that if we made a mistake in 2010 we should fix it now.
It was explained that if the Town Board made the motion to rezone the property, the current property owner would not have to pay a rezoning application fee. And Supervisor Grace said a second parcel should also be added in, but he did not identify the parcel.
The board agreed to refer out the request.
10. Broad Street/wetlands issue
The board read out loud a communication from Gregory Kravstov requesting that the town grandfather the pre-wetland condition on his property. The homeowner, who was not present, has made repeated requests along this line to the board and each time has been advised that he needs to file for a wetlands permit. Town Attorney Koster said she would respond to his letter explaining that the town cannot grant the relief he is requesting.
11. Selected resolutions passed unanimously
Conference attendance. Authorized the town attorney to attend an overnight conference with the town paying the expenses and the deputy court clerk to attend an overnight conference with the expenses being covered by a grant.
Court JCAP grant. Approved a request by the court to apply for a $2,960 grant.
Telephone maintenance contract: Authorized the supervisor to sign a one year maintenance contract for $2,161 for the telephone system and equipment at the police department, including the Emergency Operations Center phones. Supervisor Grace said he hoped to have a ribbon cutting ceremony for the EOC soon.
Topic/s not identified.