MM Notes: Town Board
March 10, 2011
Present: Florence Prisco, Supervisor
Steve Turletes, Councilman
Robert Audia, Councilman
Mike Murphy, Councilman
Mary Alex, Town Clerk
Rebecca Valk, Attorney
The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. and began with a pledge of allegiance.
Appointments: The following appointments were approved the board:
* Michael Shepley, - Planning Board
* Fletcher Coddington, Zoning Board of Appeals
* Jeff Feigelson, Board of Assessment Review
* Howard Schuman, Conservation Advisory Committee
* John Askildsen, Conservation Advisory Committee
Supervisor Prisco said she was proud of the fact that so many community members are willing to volunteer their time to serve the community.
Comprehensive Plan Update: Maureen King outlined the latest developments of the Comprehensive Plan Committee. The most significant recent accomplishment is the adoption of the new draft vision statement by the public at a March 6 public workshop held at the firehouse. Maureen said the public had ample opportunity to speak and that everyone she has spoken to seems to be happy with the new vision statement. River Street Consulting will now become more involved as the committee begins work on goals and actions, said Ms. King. Meetings are continuing to be held on the first Monday of each month. The dates are now listed on the town’s web calendar.
Some comments were made at the workshop that the Town of Washington’s taxes are higher than surrounding towns, said Ms. King. Mary Alex said she was able to conduct some research on this and found that the Town of Washington’s taxes are the lowest or one of the lowest in the entire county. She said the community needs to be educated on this fact. Another issue brought up at the workshop is what some perceive to be unfair assessments. Allegations were made that some assessments are made based upon comparisons made from properties located in Westchester County. Another said assessments are not accurate on many properties for other reasons. Mary Alex said virtually all properties are assessed based upon comparisons made within the town or occasionally in adjoining towns, if necessary. It is an extremely rare situation where an assessment is based upon a comparison of a property outside the county, said Alex. It was noted that if a property owner believes his or her assessment is unfair, they have recourse through the grievance process.
Farmland Protection Grant: Supervisor Prisco stated that she met with Diane Parker who is heading a small task force looking into the feasibility of accepting a Farmland Protection grant. Their work is finally almost completed and Supervisor Prisco said the task force will have completed their work before the next board meeting.
Wetlands Public Hearing: Supervisor Prisco informed the audience that the next public hearing is scheduled for March 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the firehouse. Some residents expressed concern over the additional costs involved with complying with this law. Mike Murphy said that the town’s consultant, Mr. Marino, has been given some sample situations and was asked to work up cost comparisons. This will be presented at the public hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, the town board will make a decision on their next steps.
Storm: Supervisor Prisco mentioned that three inches of rain is expected tonight compounding “horrific” problems throughout the town due to flooding and ice storms. She added that she was pleased with communications between Central Hudson and town officials which proved to be very helpful.
Town Clerk’s Report: Mary Alex said that property tax deadline has passed. A check in the amount of $3.8 million was sent to the county. 87% of the residents paid 92% of the total taxes with Bennett Acquisitions contributing heavily to the delinquent tax list. The mortgage tax receipts for 2011 are lower than anticipated.
A RFP (request for proposal) has been prepared for the staining of the inside of the camp building. A tree fell damaging the upper pavilion and a shed. The insurance company was called and will inspect it on Monday.
Mary stated that many towns are charging residents who appear before the planning board for a review of a proposed project if that discussion results in fees from consultants. Most towns are charging fees ranging from $200 - $250. Alternately, one town only charges when the discussion exceeds one hour. The Town of Washington does not charge for this service and when consultants are needed to comment at pre-application meetings, the town is charged, not the property owner. Mike Murphy was very much in favor of charging for this service if professionals are billing the town. Mike Murphy, Josh Mackey and Jack Neubauer will meet and make a recommendation to the board.
Recreation: Bailey’s BBQ, the company that provided concession services at the park last year, is not interested in participating this year, said Ms. Alex. A RFP has been sent out resulting in two responses. Further discussion was tabled until the April board meeting.
Steve Turletes said a meeting was held last week where the main topic of discussion was the need to set protocols to ensure that new programs are established based upon community needs and not for the financial benefit of the organizer. Their bylaws will be amended to address this.
The county is organizing their annual senior picnic. (The county organizes the event and the towns are required to fund it). This year, they are combining three towns, Washington, Pleasant Valley and Hyde Park, into one event. Warren McMillan said he already has a senior bus trip scheduled for the same day and he suggested the town hold their own senior picnic on another day that will result in better attendance. The board seemed to like the idea and asked Mr. McMillan to gather more information on the costs to the town.
Planning Board Report: Mike Murphy stated that the board has been working on a few applications involving lot line adjustments. Also another application was approved involving Bob Campbell who has found a new tenant for his commercial building in Washington Hollow. A pre-application meeting was held in regards to a developer, Robert Crowe, who is considering buying six lots that would require lot line adjustments so he can build on each of them. The board indicated that the moratorium is still in effect and his application would have to wait until the comprehensive plan has been updated.
Buildings and Grounds: Bob Audia said Skip Ciferri has drawn up plans to reconfigure the conference room so that it better suits the needs of the judges. Mr. Audia said specs are being worked up now and the cost to taxpayers will be minimal. Gutter work is still needed, said Mr. Audia, as well as some carpentry work on a little-used exit door. Bob has fabricated a temporary fix. Mike Murphy suggested that Bob inquire into using BOCES students for the job.
Road Study: Bob Audia said nothing concrete has been done yet. He hopes that by next month he will have some information for the board.
County Update: Mike Kelsey, County Legislator, reported that Loop bus maps should be made available through the town hall. He said insofar as available bus service, the Town was fortunate compared to the towns located in the northeast section of the county.
Mr. Kelsey said the roof on one of the wings of the Eastern Government Center collapsed and that section has been demolished. Capital funds are available to perform some improvements to the other buildings. Mr. Kelsey mentioned an interesting article in the Millbrook Independent that raises the question if some government-owned real estate should remain publicly-owned or is it better to sell and rent the buildings. He asked everyone to think about it and to share their views with him.
The county sales tax is currently 3.25% and the legislators will be seeking approval to extend that rate. He explained that any rate above 3.0% requires approval from the state. The same approvals will be sought later in regard to the mortgage tax rate.
Mr. Kelsey stated that the Resource Recovery’s SWAMP report was submitted and subsequently rejected by the DEC because there is no administrative oversight of the operation. To correct the situation, the county would need to fill the Commissioner position as well as an administrative support person and an investigator. Mr. Kelsey believes that the county has little choice in the matter because if the permit is not issued by the DEC, the DEC will shut down the facility, leaving the taxpayers paying $2 million a month even though the plant would not be functioning. The reasoning is based upon the County’s contract with the Resource Recovery Agency which stipulates that the county will pay the difference if the facility runs at a loss. This contract expires in 2014. On a brighter note, Mr. Kelsey said the cost to run the new department could conceivably be completely offset by the extra revenue the new staff will bring in.
The county, in cooperation with the Home and Farm Center, is holding a trivia contest in order to help educate the public on tick borne diseases. Mr. Kelsey said there are four common diseases caused by ticks: Lyme, Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis, as well as a new, potentially deadly disease called Powassan Viral Encephalitis. Fletcher Coddington suggested signs be erected near wooded areas warning people of the risks of walking in these areas during certain times of the year. Mr. Kelsey said the Town of Stanford CAC sends welcome packages to new residents and tick education is part of that package. Supervisor Prisco said that the town board will consider putting signs up at the park.
The meeting was then adjourned.