Village Board Meetings
New Meeting Night Starting in September – Budget Meeting Set
Story by John Thomas
Regular Board Meeting
There were two Village Board meetings on Monday night. The first was to handle usual board business, and, after that, the annual Organizational Meeting. While the regular meeting was free of controversy, the Organizational meeting sparked debate over the timing of delivering and setting of agenda items. Mayor Burrell started off the meeting with good news saying the state comptroller office had declared the Village to be under no financial stress. This means the state has determined the Village to be in very good fiscal shape. Also, the Village received an insurance safety group dividend payment of $19,405.25. The Mayor talked about the importance for the Trustees to read the financial statements in regards to the month’s disbursements. The report is generated by the software the Village bought from Williamson Law. Mr. Burrell also mentioned he, Mary Klahn and Niles Pierson had attended a Government Accounting Training class. A public hearing was opened to consider the Proposed 2108-19 Village Budget. The Mayor went on to say the Town and Village had received a lot of useful input from the Smart Growth Survey and follow-up meetings held in Town Center. Burrell reminded everyone of the final meeting for the Smart Growth Initiative will be at Town Center on April 14th at 10am. The Mayor will be attending the NYCOM (New York Conference of Mayors) meeting at Saratoga Springs May 6 – 8, then the STW (Southern Tier West) training session at Houghton College on the 9th. The proposed amendments to the Zoning Codes have been completed, and a public hearing to review them was set for May 14th.
DPW and Engineering Reports
Mary Klahn reported that thanks to the new water meters, all the Village’s water meters were read by the DPW crew in just 2.5 hours, a special thank you goes to Tom Dineen and Jesse Klahn. Niles Pierson and Nick Dobmeier gave the Engineering Report. Mr. Dobmeier submitted a proposal for dealing with the accumulated sludge at the bottom of the ponds. He had reported earlier on new technology that could remove the sludge at a much lower cost. Mr. Dobmeier has continued his research into the device and said he would like an additional $8,500 to keep evaluating the technology to see if it is viable. He had broken down the removal into separate tasks, including continuing his research. A motion was passed to approve the $8,500 and have him continue looking into the system. Mr. Pierson said one of his big goals for the year is to complete the GPS survey of the Village and Town’s infrastructure. Part of that will be finding all the water and sewer valves and pumps. MWA Engineers were hired as a subcontractor for part of the work. Mr. Cappelli pointed out having the infrastructure on a database could help the Village obtain grants in the future.
Code Enforcement Officer
Kelly Fredrickson reported on the sale of a “zombie property” on East Washington. Mr. Fredrickson said the bank holding the property didn’t fix up the house before the sale. But local law requires all houses to be sold must be brought up to current code before the sale can take place. The COE said 90% of the homes in the Village don’t meet this requirement. There will be a public hearing on May 14th to consider local law #2 for 2018, concerning the sale of homes. The Officer mentioned the ATM kiosk that had been in front of Katie’s Café. He said the District Attorney had given him authorization to prosecute the owners of the machine. The board passed a motion giving the COE authority to prosecute future violations.
Special Events and Refuse
Spencer Murray reported planning for Stroll the Streets is coming along. He asked for a motion to allow a car to be parked on the lawn in front of Town/Village Hall during the Friday nights of the event. The motion passed. Patra Lowes brought up the contract with Casella Waste Management ends May 31. A motion was passed to authorize advertising for bids. The request will state a clause must be added to the contract for either party to extend the contract for two years. There will be a Village-wide clean-up day scheduled for Earth Day, April 22. No members of the public appeared to speak on the Proposed Budget, and the public hearing for it was closed. A special budget meeting was scheduled for April 11 at 11am.
During the annual Organizational Meeting, some of the past board issues were raised once more. This time decisions were made, and policies set that may prevent those problems from arising again. Most of the Village’s appointments were unchanged. Peters and Moriarty are still retained as Village Attorney, but when issues that may represent a conflict of interest arise the board will consult NYCOM first. When the Trustees or Planning Board has a zoning question, they may consult with Hodgson Russ, but funds for doing so must be approved first. New to the Planning Board is Sean Cornelius, the Village’s newest insurance salesman. Still serving on the Planning Board is Shelia Burrell, whom Mayor Burrell nominated last year as a hold-over position. Trustee Cappelli asked if in light of the Code of Ethics if the Mayor would reconsider Ms. Burrell’s nomination. The Code prevents a board member from nominating or discussing a family member for a position on any Village board. Mr. Burrell pointed out the nomination had been made before the Code of Ethics was adopted, and saw no reason to reconsider the nomination. Several commissioner positions remain unfilled. Zoning and Planning, Water and Sewer, all remain unfilled. The Mayor asked for volunteers from the board to take those unfilled commissions. No one volunteered.
New Meeting Date
Trustee Cappelli requested a change in the Rules and Procedures. He wanted board members to receive agendas five days in advance of meetings, not counting weekends (five business days). Mr. Burrell responded the accountant sets up the payables and the financial report at the start of the month and felt there would not be enough time to organize an agenda and the financials five days before the second Monday of the month. He said it is important for the board to have the financial report at the board meeting because it shows the economic health of the Village. The Mayor said he would have no problem getting an agenda to the board five days before a meeting, but if the meeting was later in the month, the agenda could be more complete. At this point, the board began to search for a different day to hold meetings. The problem was the Trustees had scheduled other activities around the present board schedule. After a protracted round of dueling calendars, it was decided to move the board meetings to the third Tuesday in the month starting in September. Until then meetings will go on as planned.
The Board made a change in the Rules of Procedure. The agenda will be delivered to Board members five working days before the meetings. Items can be added to the agenda a minimum of 24 hours in advance, and items can be added to the meeting at the time of the meeting if approved by majority vote. The new rules will take effect immediately and continue when the meeting date is moved in September. Under employee benefits, the Board changed the minimum call out time (calling an off-duty employee into work, to plow for instance) from two to three hours. The minimum call out time for the town is three hours, and the change brings the policy into line with the town’s. The rate for minimum wage workers was changed to bring it in line with the new state minimum.