Town Board Work Session
September 26, 2012
1. Staffing at John C. Hart Library
2. Contract negotiations (with Bruce Barber, Environmental Consultant)
3. Outsider Auditors
1. Auditing services. Discussion with O’Cionnor Davies. Item scratched.
2. YCCC rental rates for 2013
Mary Capoccia, Executive Assistant to the Supervisor, presented the Board with a recommendation from Patty DeMarsh, the manager of the YCCC, that the town continue past practice of raising rental rates each year by 3%. Supervisor Grace initially thought the rates might be too high and lead to an exodus of tenants. He noted that he was charging less for space now in his office building than what he did 10 years ago. Councilman Paganelli asked what rates the school district was charging for French Hill School but no one offered any information. The Board voted unanimously to approve the 3% increase.
As part of the discussion, some comments were made about the Town’s recreation fees and Supervisor Grace noted that revenue might have been dropping off for the pools because of the increase in the pool permit fee. Councilman Paganelli said that if the fees were to be reduced, the loss of revenue would have to be made up somewhere else and both he and Councilman Bianco said they had no problem with allowing residents from neighboring communities to purchase permits for the pools.
3. Sanctuary Golf Course
In a short discussion of why they were appearing before the Board, the applicant explained the need for the Town Board to amend an earlier special permit after a Stop Work Order had been imposed that halted construction work on the site. The applicant explained the changes that were being made and that all advisory boards had reviewed the latest plan. A public hearing will be scheduled for October 16.
4. Sparkle Lake Dam & Greenwood Street Bridge projects
Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson advised the Board that because funds in the Engineering Department’s “special projects” budget line had been used as a temporary measure prior to bonding to cover other capital projects (e.g., the Greenwood and Lexington Avenue bridge projects), her department would need a transfer of funds to cover the planned next phase of the DEC mandated study of the Sparkle Lake dam. The project is estimated to cost about $34,000 ($32,000 had been set aside for the planned project in the 2012 budget) but that only about $10,000 remained in the special projects budget line.
Supervisor Grace said that after the study was completed, the Town might want to consider filing an Article 78 lawsuit in an attempt to get the dam removed from the state’s list of potentially hazardous dams.
Regarding Greenwood Street, Ms. Robinson explained that after the Town’s bridge consultant had completed some preliminary plans for the long-planned repair, the DEC changed its mind and required the Town to use a different method of working on the bridge. Because of this change, test borings, sheeting and easement acquisitions will be needed at an additional cost of $25,160. (Note: the dollar amount was not stated during the Board discussion but Ms. Robinson made the information available later.)
6. Sewer truck bids/fleet maintenance issues
Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson asked the Board to award a bid for two sewer trucks to the second lowest bidder as the lowest bid did not meet all the specs. The sum of $50,000 for two new trucks was included in the 2012 sewer budget. However, since the budget was approved, two things have happened: the department spent $16,000 to purchase a used truck from the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works and the head of the Central Garage notified Ms. Robinson that one of the department’s current trucks should be scrapped for safety reasons. Martin McGannon a sewer department employee, said that in the past, the department’s vehicles were typically hand-me-downs. If the Board wanted to proceed with the two purchases, Ms. Robinson said that any needed additional funds could be taken from other sewer department budget lines. As long as the money is there, she said, why not buy the two trucks now instead of buying only one now and then having to go out to bid again next year for a second truck.
In response to the list of problems associated with the current vehicle that had safety issues, Supervisor Grace said that the problems were all due to a lack cleaning, a problem he said that exists for other town vehicles. He said he has instructed department heads to prepare a folder on each vehicle in their department, including photographs. He also said the Town might look into an outside service that cleaned vehicles.
7. Elevator bid
On the suggestion of Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson, the Town will rebid for elevator repair services as neither of the two companies that responded to the original bid could meet the Town’s insurance requirements and the Board did not want to waive the requirement for the low bidder. The new bid specs will require $2 million in umbrella coverage.
8. Financial Services Advice Solicitation/Capital Budget
The Board heard a pitch from town resident Denise Farrell of Environmental Capital to serve as the Town’s financial advisor. After reviewing the Town’s 2011 financial statement, she suggested that the Town take advantage of current low interest rates and convert $7.4 million of short term borrowings (BANS, or bond anticipation notes) into long term borrowing. The Town currently has about $8.4 million outstanding in BANS but about $1 million is scheduled to mature later this year. She also suggested that the Town might want to refund approximately $900,000 remaining in the bond for the Shrub Oak pool by rolling it into the long term bond for a potential savings of about $45,000. The pool bond will be paid off in 2015. Other possible services include helping the Town develop a future capital plan that would spread out payments and also assisting the Town file the required annual financial statement. The firm’s fee for the bond conversion would be about $17,500 and Ms. Farrell did not disclose the hourly fee for assisting with any proposed capital plan.
This led to a more general discussion over how to finance what Supervisor Grace said was a $6 million list of needed infrastructure projects as well as the Town’s bond rating. Supervisor Grace said that one of the things rating agencies look for when setting a bond rating was the size of the Town’s commercial tax base, adding that a heavily residential tax base could hurt the town’s ability to borrow. Ms. Farrell said that other factors influencing the Town’s rating included the size of its surplus, the wealth of the community and how the Town was managed. Supervisor Grace said that because the borrowing differential between a AA and AAA rating was so small, it might not pay for the Town to incur the cost of asking the rating agency to reevaluate our rating. Ms. Farrell suggested that the possible $6 million capital projects list be broken up into two separate bond issues.
In general Supervisor Grace felt that future capital projects should be bonded so that the residents who get the benefits of the projects pay for them. He said borrowing now made sense because of the low interest rates and because taxpayers are stretched to the limit. The 2% tax levy cap will also have an impact on how capital projects are funded but this was not discussed in detail.
Although Supervisor Grace said he was ready to move ahead on the proposal, Councilman Bianco said he wanted to review the information provided by Ms. Farrell. No action was taken. The existing BANS expire on December 18th. Any plans to borrow for new capital projects that will require new bonding (as opposed to rolling over BANS into long term bonds) will take longer and will require the services of bond counsel.
8. Water meters and water bills
Water Distribution Superintendent Rambo advised the Board that there were only five cases where there was a discrepancy between the outside and inside water meters. The Board agreed that for the period up to the time the new meters were installed, the property owners would only have to pay based on the outside readings.
The Board also discussed the bids for the new water meters but it wasn’t clear if there was a vote to award the bid or the actual vote would take place at the next meeting. Three bids were received, the lowest one being E.J. Presc ott, the firm that supplied the initial set of meters.
9. J&J Scoops Ice Cream (Kear Street)
Because the owner’s property does not extend onto the sidewalk, he had to request the Board’s permission to install a seating area on the Town owned sidewalk. The Town gave its consent. (If the seating area is on private property, the Planning Board issues the required special outdoor seating permit.)
10. Microfiching Town records
Building Inspector John Winter repeated his request to be allowed to proceed with microfiching department records in the absence of any progress towards a program for digitizing records. In response, Supervisor Grace said he did not want to do any microfiching as it was an outdated technology. He said that he had been at a meeting where General Code, the company that indexes Town ordinances, made a presentation regarding the company’s laser fiche product. He added that Glenn Sullivan, the Town’s IT consultant, has seen the system in operation in other communities and thought it was the best available system. Councilman Paganelli noted that Mr. Winter had made his request two and half months ago and that the Town had only “kicked the issue down the road.” In jest, it was suggested that the only way Mr. Winter could get the Town to address the issue in a timely fashion would be to bring the boxes waiting to be microfiched/digitized up to the Supervisor’s office so that he could confront the problem on a daily basis.
Supervisor Grace said he would get a copy of an RFP from Mr. Sullivan and that the cost of the digitizing project could be included in the planned capital budget. He explained the many benefits to the Town by shifting to this newer technology.
11. Emergency Generators for YCCC and Town Hall
While Supervisor Grace suggested that the generator projects be wrapped into the planned capital projects bond, Councilman Patel said that the Town should not wait any longer as the YCCC is advertised as a regional emergency shelter. It was noted while money was not set aside in a special line in the 2012 budget for the generators, the prior Town Board has agreed to fund the two generators from the fund balance.
After some back and forth discussion involving Mike Dubovsky of P&M Electric, the company that has the contract to do the Town’s electrical work, and former town engineer Dan Ciarcia who was acting in a volunteer capacity, it was decided that a 160KW generator was needed for the YCCC and a 100 KW generator for Town Hall. When Mr. Dubovsky explained that Con Ed would bring a gas line to Town Hall at no cost to the Town if the Town agreed to switch its heating system to gas. The Board agreed to do so but there was no discussion of what the cost of the change would be.
Pending the installation of the generator at Town Hall, Councilman Paganelli said he did not want to postpone the installation of a proper transfer switch at Town Hall in order to correct what he and Councilman Patel said was a potentially dangerous situation. The Board agreed to proceed with this work but when Councilman Paganelli asked for a timeline for the entire project, there was no response.
It was not clear who would proceed to put the specs together for the generators. Additional costs will involve plumbing, the installation of a slab on which the generators will rest (it was determined that the highway department could do this) and the installation of a super quiet enclosure for the generator.
As part of the discussion, Councilman Bianco advised the Board that Phoenix House has offered its facilities as an emergency shelter if and when needed.
12. Granite Knolls fields
The Board awarded a $6,200 contract to All County Contracting NY of Croton-on-Hudson to remove stumps, roots, re-grade, fine rake and level and seed the Granite Knolls field. Five prices quotes had been received for the job.
13. Other resolutions
There was no discussion about other resolutions listed on the agenda.
14. Graffiti on Hill Boulevard
Item withdrawn from agenda as it was “taken care of.”
The Board went into closed session to discuss the “comptroller position.”
Special note: The CIY observer learned on Wednesday that the Board went back into open session after the closed discussion relating to the comptroller position and that the Board approved several resolutions, copies of which were not immediately available.