Town Budget Adopted
Town Board Acknowledges Hiring of Public Works Director
Story by John Thomas
Town Supervisor Matt McAndrew started last week’s meeting of the Town Board by relating a discussion held at the Four Flushers meeting. Town Engineer Mark Alianello helped to fill in some of the details. The East Washington meter pit keeps flooding, and something is wrong with the plumbing inside. The plumbing inside needs to be simplified, but it looks like it will be an expensive repair, and the water for the area will need to be turned off during the work. Also, when the pit floods, it ruins the electronics inside. Mr. Alianello said it would be possible to move the circuit boards out of the pit and wire them into an adjacent building. Then the pit flooding would not be a problem. As part of the East Tank agreement with the Village, they should share in the costs of repair. The DEC has determined the sludge from the pit at the Waste Water Treatment Plant cannot be stored on site. That will complicate the cleaning of the pit. Mr. McAndrew confirmed Niles Pierson has been hired at the Town/Village Director of Public Works. He said, “It’s been quite a process; we’re glad we are at this stage.” Mr. Pierson will start his position in March. The board indicated it was a good hire. The department reports were accepted as submitted.
Tom Scharf reported on ice buildup on the highway barn. He gave two options for a remedy. One was to install an ice melt system along the roof line. The second was to install gutters and downspouts. The board chose option one and passed a motion to approve it. There is some money left over that was set aside to replace several culverts in town. Mr. Scharf suggested the town buy some culverts now at county bid and store them. Larger culverts would be bid out as needed. There was a discussion about bidding out two culverts at one time to see if that would save money. If the town could get the culverts under contract by December 31, the money could come out of next year’s budget. One of the board members objected to passing a budget for 2018 and then having to modify it next year to accommodate the purchase. Mr. McAndrew pointed out the 2018 budget must be passed by November 20th. He also said an arraignment could be made with the culvert contractor to purchase culverts and have the contractor store them until they are needed. A motion was made to modify next year’s budget to accommodate the purchase.
Mark Alianello reported the last change order had been affected by the contractor working on the booster station by Holiday Valley. The project is now finished, and the final cost came to $147,915. The board authorized final payment of $28,405. The Engineer turned to the next project: the drainage on Holiday Valley and Upper Roads. He said he would do the preliminary engineering along with Holiday Valley, and added everybody whose property the road abuts should be at the meeting. It may be necessary to give up part of the road. The discussion was tabled.
Supervisor McAndrew thanked the board along with Tom Scharf, Don Auge and Tracy Stokes for their help putting the budget together. He said the budget kept taxes under the Governor’s 2% tax cap. The tax rate will be $1.27 per $1,000 of assessed value. Among the highlights of the budget, an increase in some wages for Town employees, and development of a five-year plan for the highway department. McAndrew added funding for the new Engineering department had been a challenge. The total budget for the town is $4,669,158 with revenues of $2,287,642, and appropriated reserves of $1,145,822. The amount to be raised by taxes will be $1,235,694.
The board reviewed the draft of the shared services agreement with the Village for the Public Works Director. It is close to the agreement for sharing the Code Enforcement Officer, Kelly Fredrickson. The Director will be a Town employee but will divide his time between the Town and Village. He will be hired on a two-year contract with a starting salary of $110,000 for the first six months, and going to $115,000 after that. The Town will bill the Village quarterly for their half of his salary. The Director will be required to attend all Town and Village board meetings, including both Planning Boards, and will report directly to the Village Mayor and the Town Supervisor. The location for the Public Works office has yet to be determined. The board felt Mr. Pierson should have some input regarding his office location.
The Town of Amherst will be kicking off a year-long bicentennial celebration of the 200th anniversary of its founding on January 1st. They are requesting congratulatory proclamations and greetings from elected officials and municipalities “throughout the world.” The town submitted a sample proclamation to be read at the celebration on New Year’s Day. The board passed a motion to send in the document.
Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty submitted the latest revisions of the Code of Ethics. Changes in the document include preventing board members from reveling anything discussed in executive session and making derogatory comments about board members or issues on social media. (Read: Trump-style tweeting). A public hearing on the Code was set for the next board meeting.