Election 2018

Thanks be, Congress Member Elect Antonio Delgado has replaced John Faso as our Congressional REPRESENTATIVE. Antonio has already held more town meetings  and  listened to more actual voters (as opposed to corporate lobbyists) than Faso did in his one term in Congress and, I suspect, in his stint in the New York State Assembly.

This election was not the result of one man or one woman’s work. This election energized in part because we were “foolish” enough as Democrats to allow 7 contenders to vie for the nod of nominee. Every one of those contenders would have been an improvement on Faso, and every one of them should be thanked and praised to the degree that he/she ran a campaign which did not divide the Democrats but rather pulled in more and more citizens who for the first time got involved in politics. We had our differences, but ultimately saw that we had much more in common than that which divided us.

This election resulted In part because some very visionary members of the Dutchess County Democratic Committee permitted a selection of the committee’s choice for nominee by introducing ranked choice balloting, thus ensuring that whoever won reflected the choice of over 50% of the weighted votes. This use of ranked choice could solve a lot of problems for many primaries and was so efficient that it made believers out of most on the Dutchess Democratic Committee.

I hope this long march to success will inspire more people of good will to run for office, knock on doors, make phone calls, stuff envelopes, talk to their neighbors (and even their relatives), donate to campaigns, thank the people who staff the voting site, thank people who run, attend town board meetings  (bring a pencil, notebook  a comfy pillow, and your own stop watch to time your allotted speaking — somehow theirs are very fast!), write letters to the editor, get out to the Democratic fund raisers, join the County Democratic Committee, and pray, pray always for the courage to continue when you experience defeat and especially when you win.

Winning and losing are the the first steps towards the next election. We are still up against international corporate donors, and we are the party of the average citizen, so it will always be an uphill battle. The NYC  hedge fund managers dropped hundreds of thousands through their PACS into the coffers of Republicans running right in this county. Some very fine people suffered loses as a result.

We are the hope we have been waiting for. So sleep, party, cry, and get out there ( in January to start all over again.) —I revised this timeline in light of Trump’s attempt to stop the investigation into Russian interference in the national interests of the U.S. I think we need to get out there, write letters, and make calls NOW.

Peace, joy, and hope to everyone.

 

 

Union Vale Ballot for Election Day 2018: Proposition One

All Democrats, Independents, No Party Affilitation Voters, Green Party, and Working Families Party Voters should have received a large postcard with this information on it. If not, let us know.

Please Vote No on the proposition to create a new office of Town Tax Collector.
Here is the actual wording as it appears on the ballot:
“Shall the Tax Collector in the Town of Union Vale be restored as a public office selected by citizens voting in the General Election every two years effective 2019”

• Elected Tax Collector ended when the last Town Tax Collector voluntarily retired in June 2017 (The tax season is January to end of May. In June Dutchess County receives the taxes directly). On Jan. 18, 2018, when Ms. Maas suggested hiring a part time tax collector for whom the Town Hall would be open on Saturday, Councilman John Welsh said, “I think going through May would be more than enough”…(after May the County collects the towns’ taxes). Mr. Welsh further said, “I also think a lot of this could be done by mail.” Ms. Maas prevailed.
• The retiring elected Tax Collector was paid about $7,000 for this seasonal job. This year, thanks to Ms. Maas’ request for a motion, to suspend the Town Code in the cases of 5 ELECTED town officials and pay 100% of their supplemental health insurance premiums instead of the Town Code stipulated 50%, the retired Tax Collector will cost the Town $6,000. (As you know, Democrats are supportive of single payer health care for all—our problem here is that these recipients all were elected to office and were Town officials who had an ethical obligation to know Town Code, that some of them wrote, and to abide by it.)
• In the “whereas” section of this proposition the wording says that “it has been confirmed that” having the duties of tax collector transferred to the Town Clerk’s office does not negatively affect either service or performance. At the 9.20.18 TB Meeting a taxpayer asked how Councilmembers Frasier, McMorris, Welsh, and Supervisor Maas who voted for this resolution could confirm any comparison since there had been no opportunity for comparison. At the end of January 2018,Supervisor Maas hired a clerk to handle the collection of taxes and to work on Saturdays (Ms. Maas later said this was an extra $1,500 paid out). Since the season for tax collecting runs from Jan to May, and the last elected collector retired in May 2017, there was no comparison done.
Combining the duties of seasonal tax collector and full time Town Clerk is a practice now in place in Amenia, Milan, Northeast, Pleasant Valley, Red Hook, Rhinebeck, Stanford, and Washington. Using the Town Clerk’s office to collect taxes works and saves taxpayer money. Vote NO on this Proposition.

Rather spontaneous burst of meetings replaces 2nd Official Meeting

In the last two weeks there have been two special Town Board Meetings. Theses have dealt with important issues, so that is good, but the need for these meetings does seem to call into question how efficient it is to have dropped the second monthly meeting that citizens could expect on a regular basis as a way to ask questions and get clarification from the Board. Ms. Maas  has invited me to come sit with her in the Town Hall and discuss matters, but my belief is that Town business is best discussed in the presence of those constituents who need to see how business is conducted and what business is done.

For example, having attended the 10.11. 18 meeting I found out from Ms.Maas  there had been a meeting with residents who live near the Gay holiday lights. This was news to me ( I live near them).  Such a meeting should have been promulgated through a town posting and held at a regularly scheduled Town Meeting, so that all interested parties could have attended. Of course, in doing that everyone would know what was said, and that would make it difficult for anyone on the Board to use that limited meeting as a source of what all the residents near the lights really think. The meeting at which the final discussion of the Library issue by the Town Board took place was posted on a Saturday for two days later, and no one who did go was allowed to speak.  This is not good management practice.

At these last two add- on, non- agenda meetings, one held on 10.11. 18 and one held on 9.26.18, issues about the resignation of the Town Recreation manager, the paving of the parking lot, and decision whether to start on the handicapped parking project were discussed ( 9.26.18 ) as well as pay raises for staff, need to hire more staff, and need to increase hours for Constables at the site of the Gay lights, which run for five weeks (10.11.18) .  These topics might have been of interest to a wider audience, one which could not make a meeting on a week’s notice.

The Town Board has been eminently negligent in its transparency as conducted through television and YouTube. If the taxpayers are comfortable with this, nothing will change. If constituents demand a return to two televised and YouTube taped meetings a month at which constituents can clarify and question, then such a change will happen. This Board will be up for change next year. What do you think?

UVTB-Meets 9.20.18-“Official”(no tv sound, transparency loses again!)

As of 10.2.18, over a week later, there is no YouTube video of this and no televised version. Having been at the meeting, I understand why the Town might not want people to see it. My comments on the Proposition regarding creating a new Tax Collector position were not received with much civility, and the question asked about how much the Town was spending on Hoof Print Road on drainage for a new home after having four years ago told a resident that the Town could not work on drainage there was a question that the Supervisor did not address. I would like you to be able to judge for yourselves whether these remarks by the public were handled thoughtfully, but as yet there is no YouTube. Apparently from what I was able to see with a friend who is savvy about such matters, the streaming was running from the meeting until at least Monday afternoon.

This 9.20.18 meeting began with remarks about the budget. Comments on Budget began @ 7:15 pm.

Only one comment was made and it was from this editor: Anne McCabe:

My budgetary concerns regard the possible passage of a resolution approved by four of you in July: that resolution advocates the reinstatement of the Town Clerk as an elected official of the Town. This potential reinstatement is troubling in that the cost to the town of another elected official is greater than that of a part time employee: witness the benefits an elected official acquires after ten years service. The last elected tax collector who voluntarily retired in 2017, by Ms. Maas‘ own statement, earned about $7,000. True, but this year the Town has paid $6,000 for that retired official’s supplemental insurance (had Ms. Maas had her way this payment would have continued beyond this year). Even if the Town were to follow the Town Code and pay only 50% of that insurance benefit, that would be $3,000 a year, each year that the Town was responsible for. And for what? When Ms.Maas introduced the idea of hiring a part time tax collector, Mr. Welsh said, “ A lot of this can be done by mail.” When Ms. Maas insisted on having that part time employee work from February until June, Mr. Welsh said that even when the position was held by an elected Tax Collector, it had ended in May, not June because after May the taxes went to the County. So this burdening of the Town with another elected official has financial implications as opposed to the original concept of having the Town Clerk’s – the Clerk and her assistant- office pick up this task.

And that second part of the original proposal of removing an elected official position brings us to the need for this extra town expense, which the resolution says has “been confirmed that there are no financial hours of service or performance advantages gained by transferring these powers to the Town Clerk’s Office. “ How would you be able to confirm such a thing when the position was dissolved in May at the voluntary retirement of the last tax collector, after the first election of a new Town Clerk, and before any comparison could be done. Tax season started in January. The hiring of the part time tax collector with Saturday hours was started in February. Where is the basis by which you claim “no…advantages gained by transferring to the Town Clerk’s Office?” As elected officials fiscally responsible for the Town’s careful use of public funds, please explain how you had sufficient information to determine any comparison.

This was followed with personal remarks of Supervisor Maas about Mrs. McCabe’s point of view ( in these remarks, Ms. Maas incorrectly categorized the statements Mrs. McCabe had made regarding retirement benefits. Further Ms. Maas made the inaccurate statement that not all the five retirees receiving 100% payment from public funds for their supplemental insurance benefits were retired officials of the Town. Mrs. McCabe corrected Ms. Maas by stating that Mrs. McCabe had in fact gotten the records as a result of the Freedom Of Information Law and could prove that all five were elected Town Officials. Mr. Frasier then felt the need to inform Mrs. McCabe’s about how hard he worked and how much he deserved financial remuneration and that he didn’t want to be treated like a “second class citizen.”  ( In fact, my reason for believing that elected public officials should not be granted special financial privileges stems from my belief that elected public officials should be in office to serve the people. I know we have not seen much of this on the national front, especially in the last two years, but that was what the Founding Fathers intended and what I was raised to believe ethical office holders felt their jobs to be.)

Again, my allotted three minutes was abruptly interrupted by Ms. Maas ( who then took the time to engage in personal remarks.)

At 7:20 the meeting adjourned for an Executive Session, from which the Board emerged to continue the meeting.

There were reports from Parks and the Recycling Center and the persons in charge of each were present to make these.

Parks –Jake

  • thanked Mr. Albrecht for his work
  • said the bid on the Kiddie Pool had a deadline this month
  • roofing for silos will be in the second week of October
  • Beekman soccer is in full swing
  • the vacant house in the park will be examined
  • the October Fest is ready to go

Recycling–Tom

Problem

  • the County raised municipal fees in 2017
  • real crisis because China is now refusing to buy the recycled materials
  • cost has risen 1200 per cent

Solutions

  • Using dual stream ( paper separated from the glass, plastic, and metal) is cheaper for Town by almost half
  • Raising cost of each garbage bag to $4.00– would still be about half as expensive as using Royal Carting
  • Cost rise goes into effect on October 1st
  • New permits are out in November
  • Try to encourage neighbors to participate in the recycling in Union Vale

Library Contract for 2018 has been signed

Wingdale Traffic Circle Discussion

Two plans were discussed as possible solutions to the traffic issues at the circle.

Drones and Alcohol Permits– Jake has prepared these for those who rent park

Tymor Park Scholarships

  • Thanks to Community Day Race and Park Staff- winners announced

Concession stand made $2,500 this year: big change from the past -Laurie Smalley to thank

IT person is starting in the Town but has no expertise on the televising of the Board Meetings.

Town Board Meeting  on Wed of next week to discuss paving of parking lot and new parking for handicapped.

Then a Town resident rose to discuss the drainage work on  Hoof Print Road and ask why it appeared that the Town was doing a lot of work on a new house ( he believed to belong to Page) when four years ago a long time resident of the road was told he had to take care of drainage issues out of his own pocket and did so. ( This was a Mr. Adams). The question this resident had was how much money is the Town spending on this drainage. The side of Hoof Print is falling apart.

Miss Maas suddenly remembered that she had not timed his question, and then told him his time was up and he should make arrangements to talk to Town officials at a  later date.

That’s all folks. What do you think?

Work Meeting of UVTB 9.6.18-no notes, no video, no agenda, no public comment

This meeting, once again without key transparency elements: no published agenda, no minutes stored for public edification, and no public taping, began with a discussion of the Re-cycling Center with Tom St. Onge.  This year began with revenues higher than expected and costs lower and then the cost of carting away recyclable went in May from a couple of hundred dollars to $1,100. per month ( remember that China had been a big part of the US recycling industry. editor). Also because of the problems with having the materials removed, recycling will no longer be single stream: paper must be clean and separate, and metals and plastics must also be clean but may be disposed of together.

Options:

1. Close facility –There are 800 permit holders, 500 from Union Vale and 300 from Beekman). The majority of these are senior citizens.

2 Raise fee to $4.00 per bag. ( Royal Carting charges $35.15 per month for its services).

3. Eliminate Senior Discount

4. Skip Wednesday service or Sunday service

5. Charge for use of Debris Bin

The UVTB must consider these options.

Employee Issues

1.Holidays: Consensus stay at current 11

Question: seasonal employees and part-time employees might get time and a half on holidays

2. Personal time off: now 4 days (some proportion thereof for part time)

New paycheck system allows Town to figure 1/4 hour increments

How much advanced notice does Town need for use of these days

May they be used before or after a vacation?

Is there accused sick time: Should the Board vote on individual cases?

May unused personal days be converted to sick days accrued?

Sick time per year now 4 days. Proposed 10-12 which can be received after 90 days probation time for new employees–vacation time is available for new employees after 6 months)

Town may require doctor’s note or request one. Is there a limit of accrued days?

What about the Sick Bank?

What rules govern disability?

Vacation seems to be now: one yr. service= one week

two -five years of service=2 weeks;

five to ten years of service=3 weels

ten to fifteen years of service=4 weeks

sixteen plus years of service = 5 weeks –Vacations must be approved two weeks ahead of time by managers or—-

IT POLICY

-based on Pawling’s policy; costs and accessed discussed; will be part of new employee packet and will be coordinated with employee handbook

Ms. Maas said that the Library Contract Discussion will be at a Voting Meeting of the UVTB

(HOWEVER, a meeting of the UVTB was called by Ms. Maas for Sept. 3, 2018 and promulgated on the Town site.  This meeting was held at 5:00 pm. and NO MEMBER of the public which attended was allowed to speak. Also, the meeting took place before sundown, thus  making it difficult for those in our community who observe Rosh Hashana ( Jewish New Year).

 

August 16,2018 Official Town Board Meeting

Once again there is no sound on the televised presentation which was to have been aired on channel 22, so those residents without computer access are no longer served by a visual record of the meeting. (The Town Board has radically reduced the ability of citizens to access their official conversation, understand their priorities, and hear their goals, yet when I pointed out that without access to all of their official deliberations, with the exception of executive sessions, the Town’s people could not hold the Board accountable for its actions or make meaningful comments on the budget, Ms. Maas interrupted me during my speaking time allotment. Anne).

The best way to get a sense of what was done is to go to the Union Vale Town page and go to the bottom and watch the YouTube of the last official meeting. This YouTube version has sound.

Watching and/or going to the Town Board meeting is time consuming, often tedious, but always revealing. Watch the topics and the tone and ask yourself questions. See if you can find answers.

The big topic this week is the resolution to reinstate the position of Tax Collector in Union Vale.

The only member of the Board to question the introductory comments included with the resolution to reinstitute the position of taxpayer was Ms. Kelley who objected to the use of terms which could not be backed by evidence on a town wide basis. Ms. Kelley’s objections were brushed aside.

  Mr. Welsh made no objections and voted for the resolution to reinstate the position although in the January 18, 2018 meeting of the Town Board, Mr. Welsh questioned why the experiment with Saturday tax collecting would continue until June since after May the taxes went to the County, and then later reminded people at the meeting that ” a lot of this can be done by mail.” Continue reading

Public Comments about the 2019 Budget-

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
TAKE NOTICE, that the Town Board of the Town of Union Vale will hold a public hearing at the Town Hall, 249 Duncan Road, LaGrangeville, New York 12540 (in the Town of Union Vale) on August 16th, 2018 at 7:15 o’clock, p.m., on or as soon thereafter so public comment can be heard at the beginning of the budget process for 2019.
TAKE FURTHER NOTICE, that the Public Hearing will be from 7:15 o’clock, p.m., after which time the regularly scheduled Town Board meeting will take place. DATED: Union Vale, New York August 13th, 2018.
ANDREA CASEY, TOWN CLERK

The No Video, No Agenda, No Promulgated Minutes UVTB Meeting 8/2/18

We have audio tape of the entire meeting because we believe in documenting Town Board Meetings in an effort to make the Town Board decisions as transparent as possible and thus afford taxpayers the opportunity to hold the Board or members of the Board responsible for their decisions.

The meeting started at 7:30 pm.

Discussion of Possible Buyer at the Town Center ( a parcel of about 15 acres). The buyer and his friend appeared at this work meeting and was allowed by Ms. Maas to discuss a proposal regarding an offer on 11/2 to 2 acres of this designated Town Center area. This man had attended an earlier Town Bd. Meeting asking why he had not received a response to an offer he made on the property on April 23.Ms. Maas said that she had heard no such offer from any realtor. He intends to open a Fitness Center of approximately 2,500 square feet, one story, using solar panels on the roof, using a pre-fab structure. The building will be steel. He hopes to entice other businesses to join him.  He is willing to dress up the face of the steel structure to fit the area. The ceilings would be 12 foot high with three large windows across the front.

The Board suggested the potential buyer speak with George Kolb, Code Enforcer, and the Fire Department to check on code requirements. Possibly he will have to buy the entire parcel and would then become the developer. Ms Maas briefly outlined the process of buying the land and having the building approved. The Union Vale portion of that property is about 10 acres Mr. Frasier and Ms. Maas agreed.

Reports from Board Members

Corrina Kelley has spent the last few weeks gathering information on how 16 other municipalities deal with employee issues such as vacation, sick, and personal time. Kelley supplied a detailed chart of points of comparison. The Town of Clinton grants benefits to full time employees only.The Town of Beekman does not pay for unused sick days but does bestow some benefit for those unused days at retirement. Beekman gives a day off after Christmas. Other Towns had floating holidays which might include the day after Thanksgiving. Corrina noted which Towns were union and which were non-union. Some of these municipalities do have sick banks.

The Office of Comptroller uses 41J as an alternative to payout for unused sick days rather than direct pay by the town. Beekman uses the alternative.

Corrina also included much information about various approaches to the sick bank concept. Fishkill gives no sick pay to hourly/seasonal employees. Fishkill puts personal time on a hourly possibility which gives employees the chance to use just what they need. Most towns say that medical verification “may be requested” as opposed to demanding documentation at each absence from work.

Ms. Maas said that he health care rates are up 12% this year. Mr. Welsh agreed and said that the Town cannot be “overly generous.” At this point Supervisor Maas suggested Merit Based Increases. Mr. Frazier says that where he works, “there is a lot of pettiness between certain people.”

Ms. Kelley suggested that a full discussion of pay between the employee and the department head should be a part of the process.

Here Mr. Frazier, this is the third such request in as many meetings, interjected that the Town Hall air conditioning needs to be addressed.He wondered whether the problem was that the system was on timers.

“This ( Corrina’s research) is really extensive, Corrina,” Ms. Maas said. “Yeah, you got a lot of data, ” said Mr. Welsh.

Ms. Maas said the one rental house is empty as of yesterday.” We still have” the security deposit “I don’t want to make it sound worse than it is, but they left big piles of garbage.”

” Next time we should talk about the insurance,” said Ms. Maas. “Maybe at the next workshop.”

Direct deposit may save the Town money if a paycheck is lost by the employee.

August, September, and October there will be fifteen minute public hearings, before the official meeting starts, on the budget. ( This seems to indicate that public remarks will not be on public record.) On September 6 there will be a preliminary budget.). August and October will have preliminary meetings at 7:15 pm. for public comments.

They will use George Kolb’s format for all department head budgets.

Maas, said of Ryan Cortien’ s worksheet for the budget  (of last year prior to her becoming Supervisor) she thought  was a “perfect worksheet” and would use it herself as a basis for this year’s budget. Mr. Frazier said he was very confused by it.

Ms.Maas said she has to update infrastructure budget.

Ms. Maas said In regard to the rental house, windows have to be replaced, cracked windows need to be fixed. Master Plan says we need to do more for nature conservancy type non-profit, so maybe we could rent to them ( was rented for $2,300 a month).

Dave reported on solar in the landfill. Dave did research on other towns. Ms. Maas said the revenue from landfill leasing was 112 thousand by leasing to solar companies.

Ms. Maas said we will probably deal with brown field solar leases.

Mr. Frazier said he is not an expert but is very skeptical because the solar companies needed government subsidies. ( Oil companies are still receiving subsidies from the government. Did Mr. Frazier mean these?)  Ms. Maas said the companies she has investigated commit to removal of the equipment themselves.

Ms. Maas said the companies will come and answer these questions.

Mr. Welsh wanted to share with Beekman, but Ms. Maas and Dave pointed out that that Beekman’s energy already has a buyer.

Dave’s research on town aggregates has revealed a savings of 9 million. The Towns then become the utility company.

Corrina went to meetings on aggregates and basically the towns create a buying club ( of at least 20,000 customers). Union Vale could get into the Hudson Highland aggregate. The power must go to the same utility.  Based on the buying power, the cost could be very low for each consumer. And, there is an opt-out for each resident who could return to Central Hudson.

Ms. Maas said we have to focus on one project: the landfill which can be used for nothing else. Mr. Frasier said he isn’t opposed to this, but wants not to maintain the property. Mr. Welsh said that schools taxes would be applied, but Mr. McMorris said that there is an agreement by which the company will pay school, county, and town taxes. This agreement pilot is good for 15 years.

Ms. Maas said we should focus on this project. The companies want control. The nice thing is that Paul Curran, an nationally known provider, is right next door.

Mr. Welsh is worried about liability to the town regarding water.

Mr. McMorris said the EPA has already approved the process. The Town of Washington is working on this now.

Mr. Welsh thanked Dave and Corrina for all their work on this.

Mr. McMorris said the sooner the Town acts, the more options it has.

Ms.Maas said Computel said Altice will not respond to Computel, but will look into getting the $15, 000 back.

There are a lot of projects in play now. Mr. Welsh said that since 2012 we no longer have a scenic road section in the Town Code. It was supposed to be replaced but wasn’t. Changes to these roads would have to be addressed as part of the planning process. West Clove Mt. is one such. The lady from Dutchess County is coming to the next Official Meeting to talk about signs and Greenway.

Frasier wants parking lot lights on photocell not timer. This would increase safety.

Estimate for silos is $4,400 to fix, said Ms. Maas.

Frazier said these repairs are below the amount which requires a resolution.

Twelve years ago the silos were fixed, and then they later were removed.

Maas:    “We  called IT people, and he is coming by tomorrow.” He will officially get us on Board after Labor Day.

Bathrooms: there is rust everywhere. These have to be put on the list.

Tentative budget for next meeting.

(No mention of the library at all in this meeting.)

( My question is about the Town Board and the pre- vote Public Meetings: Will these be taped and or televised? And, will there be sound for this on the televised site?)

 

Official Town Board Meeting of July 19, 2018

Editor’s Note: I recommend that you watch the July 19, 2018 meeting in full on the YouTube site which you can access directly on YouTube or by going to the official Town of Union Vale site (unionvaleny.us). On the bottom of the home page is a link to the most recently recorded Town Board meeting.

I will touch on the highlights of this meeting, but to get a true picture of what occurred, you really need to watch for yourself. Attitude is difficult to nail down, but it was very present in the leadership of this meeting. I acknowledge, having sat through so many of these meetings in an attempt to understand and critique the workings of our current Board, that listening to people say things with which one disagrees is disagreeable. But, according to the New York State Open Meetings Law, once the public is allowed to speak at a meeting, anyone wishing to do so must be allowed to do so with the same constraints applied to all. You be the judge.

Cash Flow:According to Ms.Maas at this point in the year, the Town of Union Vale is at 29% below its expected expenses. She and the Dept. Heads have reviewed and prioritized the Infrastructure List, and she has reviewed insurance and online credit card payments. (at the Work Session in June, Ms. Kelley raised the question of Ms. Maas having preemptively issued a credit card to a seasonal part-time worker without involving the Board. Although Ms. Maas did not deny having done so and claimed it as her prerogative as Supervisor, the issue of involving the Town Board in issuing credit cards was not addressed. This credit card issue had been brought up in the NYS audit which frowned on issuing credit cards to individuals. This issue was not addressed at the July 5 work meeting and was not even placed on the agenda by Ms. Maas at this July 19 meeting, although Ms. Kelley had asked her to.)

Ms. Maas said that there were 47 items on the Infrastructure list which needed to be dealt with and the projected cost would be about $864,000.

Board Members Reports:

Mr. Frazier: spoke of the need to upgrade the air conditioning

Mr. Walsh: spoke of the need to put roofs on the three silos and cap two: he has contacted a firm in PA to do this. He is concerned about the state of the salt shed and is working on a grant to get some monies to help update this building.

Mr. McMorris: spoke of an upcoming Veterans Day Parade  to celebrate the Year of the Veteran.  One hundred years ago World War I ( the war to end all wars as it was known) ended. Dave encouraged all Town residents to offer the names of those in Town who should be honored. Wheel chairs are available if needed. All the Board agreed that this was a fine tribute. McMorris also spoke of his meetings with various people regarding green energy. Shared services seem to be one of the answers to making this affordable.

Ms. Kelley spoke of her outreach to other towns to find out about their approach to allocation of personnel and funds. Ms. Kelley led the Board work discussion of much of the Employee Handbook.  Many towns have already responded to her request for them to share their approaches to employee issues.

There were several taxpayers who spoke in favor of continuing library services. One phrase used by a speaker was that the library is part of the Town’s infrastructure. In the case of this speaker, she had purchased a home in Union Vale in large part because of its access to a thriving library. Other speakers talked of the library’s value to their children and the community as a whole. I spoke about the lack of promised discussion of the library at the July 5 Work Session and why this failure to discuss was directly attributable to the Work Session’s having no written, printed agenda and no written, printed minutes. At the Official meeting in June, the Town Board had passed a motion regarding the library discussion to which Supervisor Maas added that it would be discussed at the July 5 Work Session. Despite Ms. Kelley’s request for such a discussion at that July 5 meeting, this discussion never happened. Therefore, if the Town Board forgets its own statements, written documentation is a must. So also with a library, a library  must consist in large part of printed material which provides a permanence that recent events in our national elections have shown electronics simply do not provide.

Dept. Reports:

Animal Control Officer: The need to license and keep one’s animals on one’s own property was stressed.

Code Enforcement: Mr. Kolb gave a thorough report on his work with houses abandoned by owners and financial institutions.

Recreation sent in a full report of the many activities available at the Park.

Old Business:

Sign law is still being discussed.

Library Contract: Ms. Maas led this discussion. It is worth watching. The position Ms. Maas, Mr. Walsh, and Mr. Frazier took focused on what Ms. Maas referred to as a metric to tie to the town’s payment for the library use. These councilpersons felt the use of a library card would be the metric. (If one pursues this thinking, I wonder what the metric for the tax exemptions for those who do not actually farm but keep a couple of horses would be, or what the metric would be for the use of the constables? Is there a metric for the silos, and would that be aesthetic value since they are not used as silos? Given the few persons who actually work in or use Town Hall, what is the metric for updating the air conditioning?)  Please listen to these discussions.

The Clove Rd. intersection with  CR 21 was then discussed.

Once again, please watch this entire meeting. I have left out much, but the how of this meeting seemed to overpower the what. At one point a man, then unknown to me, who had entered late and sat in the front row turned to the row behind him and said, ” What are you looking at?”

Interesting meeting.

P.S. Although I attended this entire meeting and have watched it on Channel 22 twice earlier this week, in an effort to make sure my statements were accurate I just attempted to watch it again. it is Sunday, July 29th and the Town Bd. meeting of July 26 is being aired on channel 22, but there is no sound.?! YouTube does have sound. Here follows the way to contact the members of the Town Board. I would recommend contacting all so that no one forgets he/she got an email or call.

Betsy Maas email: supervisor@unionvaleny.us ; office phone 724-5600

Dave McMorris-email: mcmorris.uvny@gmail.com ; phone 845-279-5412

Corrina Kelley -email:corrinakelley2015@gmail.com ; phone724-3126

John Welsh -email:councilmanjohnwelsh@gmail.com ; phone 724-7060

Steven Frazier-email: councilmanfrazier@gmail.com; phone 845-227-8475

Please have your say. Democracy depends on ALL the people being involved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-agenda Town Bd. Meeting– July 5, 2018

Editorial Preface: Before you read about what went on at this meeting, I’d like to highlight what did not happen and preface that information with a summary of a motion which occurred after the Public Comment about Town issues section of the Official Town Board Meeting of last month,  June 21, 2018.

As the 6. 21. 18 meeting of the Union Vale Town Board ended, Supervisor Maas brought up the fact the the Contract with Mid-Hudson library was again a topic. The Mid-Hudson Library Association had sent a letter to the Town asking the Town of Union Vale to respond to the three year contract proposed by the Association. Ms. Maas asked what written response the Town Board wished to give. Mr. Welsh suggested sending a written record of the results of the Library Steering Committee of last year. Ms. Maas agreed, saying that the Association could have seen that on YouTube but that Mr. Welsh’s suggestion was good: a written response. Ms. Kelley suggested that the Association was familiar with the response, having seen in on YouTube, and that she wished to proceed to the question of signing the contract for three years because the Town had nothing to offer as a replacement library right now. Further Ms. Kelley pointed out that 75% of those responding to the survey were in favor of paying the library dues. Ms. Maas said that not everyone had returned the survey, but Ms. Kelley countered that an11% response rate was a decent return rate on 188 responses. Mr. Walsh agreed.   Ms. Maas still resisted and said not everyone responded and wanted to honor the work of the committee.

Mr. Welsh said the prior Board had not given any final response to the Standing Committee.  Ms. Kelley reminded Mr. Welsh that he had given the response saying, “Now is not the time to deal with this.” Mr. Welsh  then agreed he had said that comment at the meeting last year as Ms. Kelley remembered,  and then this evening (6.21.18) Mr. Walsh added,” Now is the time.”

Mr. Frazier said it had been some time since he had read that work and wanted time to do so.

Mr. McMorris suggested that this topic be the subject of the next workshop meeting to be voted on at the next Official Meeting.

Mr. Frazier made a motion to table the question of what written response to send and to have all review the document and take it up at the next meeting.  Ms. Maas said “We’ll bring it up at the Work Session ( 7.5.18) as well. Actually bring copies of what was delivered before.” Mr. Frazier said,”Right,” and that a comparison of the two could then be made.  All of these quotations can be checked on the Youtube video of the June 21,2018, Union Vale Town Board Meeting which when I checked last were still on the home page of unionvaleny.us

This conversation is important because at the Work Session on July 5, 2018 ( referred to by Mr. Frazier and Ms. Maas as a time to “bring it [the library issue] up) the library issue was not fully discussed.

 

The audio bar right above this part of the text works as any such insert would. Hit the arrow, and it will play a section of the ending of the work session July 5, 2018 Town Board meeting, all of which we have recorded as per NYS open meetings law. The first speaker is a member of the public.The response comes from Supervisor Maas. The second member of the public is me (Anne McCabe). Councilman Frazier is the male voice.

  Work Session Meeting of July 5, 2018:  Ms. Maas pointed out that it was almost 10:00 pm. Then  Ms. Kelley asked whether the Committee would discuss the library situation at that point. This was after the commercial sign policy, the employee manual, the Town Center master plan, the awarding of either lesser priced pool passes or recycling center passes to member of the Fire Dept., and the credit card policy were discussed. Ms. Maas said that it was too late.  Members of the public questioned why this Work Meeting did not fully discuss the library. Mr. Frazier said there was to be no public comment, (Ms. Kelley reminded him that Ms. Maas had said at the 6.21.18 Town Board Meeting that public comments would be accepted), and Ms. Maas said that just because some members of the public had come to this meeting did not mean it would be discussed at this meeting and why would the public think this might happen. I and another member of the public referred to the Official Town Bd. Meeting and what was said there as our reason for believing that the Town Bd. would do as it had promised.

Before this happened at the July 5, 2018 Work Session, almost two and a half hours were spent on other topics.  So here is the meeting as it unfolded.

Union Vale Town Board Work-Session Meeting of July 5, 2018

Although I checked the clock when I arrived at 7:28, it appeared that the Town business discussion among the Board Members  had begun before I arrived.

SIGN POLICY

  • Question by Mr. Welsh: Must the policy be approved by NYS?  Mr. McMorris said that the visibility issue was itself worth checking with NYS.
  • Square footage of the size was confusing since there was an apparent inconsistency with the one-sided–two-sided sign issue. All agreed this should be further researched. Mr.Frazier and Ms. Maas had a rather long discussion of this between them.
  • Mr. Frazier said that electronic signs are the future, and the policy should recognize this.
  • Questions of illumination intensity of the sign, time of day, ability to change messages were all good questions which were discussed. Ms. Maas said she would let the Planning Board do its work and then look at their results She also suggested a sign company present to the Board.
  • Mr. McMorris said there was a FEMA grant for some types of signs that should be considered.
  • The need to define terms was agreed upon by the Board.
  • Free Speech and signs was also discussed.
  • Ms. Maas said the Board will write the document, discuss it again, and send it to the Planning Board, then to the Town Lawyer, and then to the Town Code Enforcer.

EMPLOYEE MANUAL UPDATE

  • Mrs. Kelley presented this and addressed a concern Ms. Maas had brought up at a prior meeting regarding defining a full time employee as one who works fewer than 40 hours. Ms. Maas said she would consider defining full time as one who worked 32 or 35 hours because Ms. Maas felt their were not many extras that such employment cost the town. Ms. Kelley said that there were some, but that having a pay check service might make it easier to break down benefits according to actual hours worked. Ms. Maas said that it took ten years of working for the town as a full time employee to gain retirement benefits and that she did not see this as being a problem “on the horizon.”
  • Seasonal employees — these employees do not have the same benefits as part time year round of full time employees.
  • Sick bank discussion for full time employees was addressed and discussed. Ms. Maas dismissed the idea of having employees work as managers of this bank. I raised my hand to share my involvement with a sick bank where I had worked and pointed out that since the days available came from the employees and not the employer, the board deciding who should be eligible and to what degree eligible for such days should appropriately be employees voted on by other employees. She thanked me and then more discussion ensued.

TOWN CENTER AND THE MASTER PLAN

No particular issue with this was brought up, but  Ms. Maas introduced the topic and the Board seemed to remark on bits and pieces with the idea that more discussion would occur later. Mr. McCabe, who had worked on this issue before, and Mr. Welsh both said there were records which the Town Historian Fran Wallin might have. No member seemed to have been assigned this topic.

CREDIT CARD POLICY

Ms. Kelley pointed out that there seemed to be an inconsistency in some phrasing that granted the Supervisor permission to issue credit cards — even to part time workers — without the consent of the rest of the Board. Ms. Maas seemed not to understand Ms. Kelley’s point and argued a point not under discussion. Ms. Kelley again tried to focus the issue to the language in the document at hand which said that the Supervisor operating alone could issue such credit cards, although the Town Board as a whole had to approve budgets and transfer of  funds.  Ms. Kelley suggested the language should read the Town Board. Mr. Frasier appeared to agree, pointing out that Supervisor Maas had used the pronoun “we” when speaking of some aspects of financial management. Ms. Kelley asked whether Ms. Maas had issued a Town credit card to a part time employee, who by virtue of that status was not vested by the Town. Ms. Maas did not deny doing this but said Ms. Kelley should call Ms. Maas if she wanted to know more. Ms. Kelley said she believed that the Supervisor should act with the Town Board on these matters and should always issue reports and summaries of significant actions taken such as the meeting between Ms. Maas and the Parks and Recreation Departments. There was no written record of that meeting. At this Ms. Maas became extremely agitated and raising her voice told Ms. Kelley that Ms. Kelley needed to call her more often. Ms. Kelley concluded by saying she found zero transparency in Ms. Kelley’s private meetings. Supervisor Maas insisted that nothing happened without “you guys being informed.” Ms. Kelley’s point was that at least two events: the meeting with Parks and Recreation and the issuance of the credit card did happen without the Board being informed.  Supervisor Maas seemed very upset, and said it’s 10:00.

Ms. Kelley said,” Are we going to discuss the library now?”

Ms. Maas said,”No, no, no.  Mr. Frazier said,” I’m not prepared to discuss it tonight.” And then two (I was one) of the members of the public spoke. That is the sound bar you can play above.

Then Mr. Frazier brought up the obsolete nature of the air conditioning system at Town Hall. At the next meeting he recommends a resolution for a plan to modernized the heating and air conditioning system.

Ms. Maas  said that Jake had talked about the need to update six infrastructure issues.  Mr. McMorris spoke about the long range cost saving nature of geo-thermal energy.

Mr. Maas said that there are three grants that Jake is looking at.  Ms. Kelley and Mr. McMorris said they concurred with Mr. Frazier that numbers for each project needed to be assembled. Some solar energy companies are approaching residents about reduced rate power.

Then Ms. Maas said, “I would never say this in public….( Supervisor Maas should have been fully aware that four members of the public were still very obviously in attendance) you (These remarks were addressed to the other four Town Board Members) are not coming around.  You’re not doing extra work…I know you guys mean well, but you’re not doing extra work.”

Ms. Kelley said that she had donated an entire day of being down on the park on Home School Day, and to her knowledge was the only one.  Then as Ms. Kelley continued, the Supervisor cut her off reiterating that more work needed to be done and ending with ….”Good Night…”  as she picked up her materials and unceremoniously left.

These are the people to call regarding their work on the Town Board: For best results, call all or email all members.

Betsy Maas email: supervisor@unionvaleny.us ; office phone 724-5600

Dave McMorris-email: mcmorris.uvny@gmail.com ; phone 845-279-5412

Corrina Kelley -email:corrinakelley2015@gmail.com ; phone724-3126

John Welsh -email:councilmanjohnwelsh@gmail.com ; phone 724-7060

Steven Frazier-email: councilmanfrazier@gmail.com; phone 845-227-8475

Please have your say. Democracy depends on ALL the people being involved.