April 20, 2018: Official UVTown Bd. Meeting: We Get to Ask Questions

Prior to the Official Union Vale Town Board Meeting (UVTBM), there was a public hearing on Local Law to Amend Town Code for Collection of Escrow Deposits by Zoning Board of Appeals. No one from the public rose to speak, so the Union Vale Town Board (UVTB) voted unanimously to amend the Town Code as stipulated in the resolution.

The meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. After the minutes were approved, the supervisor, Ms. Maas, gave her report on Town finances. Among other details, Ms. Maas said that a contract for LED lightening had been bought out in order to save 12.5  per cent yearly interest rates the remainder of the contract. The price of buying out this contract was$15,500 which came from the contingency budget (writer’s note: please come back to this figure when at the end I question why five retired town officials were given $18,000 to pay 50% of their supplemental insurance premium costs although the Town Code clearly stipulates that 100% is required). Supervisor Maas then said that the UVYB is making progress on the policy manuals, the Town  has received $35,500 for storm related damage from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a result of a request by last year’s board, has begun working a a Deferred Compensation Plan for Town employees, and has changed the titles of employees in the Recreation Department.

Each of the other members of the Town Board then commented:

Town Board Member Welsh:

  • has been working on the Town Internet Policy and a grant for handicap accessibility which had been won last year and which he hopes will be finalized next fall
  • the Dutchess County Office of the Aging will hold its Picnic on May 30,2018 in Wingdale
  • there is a need to hold a public hearing on storm water management programs

Town Board Member Steve Frazier:

nothing to report

Town Board Member Kelley:

  • introduced her research on Community Choice Aggregation which 5 Dutchess municipalities   already participate in and which has saved them much in energy costs
  • commented on her Senior Citizen works regarding home repair assistance, communication issues, and availability of rides to grocery stores and doctors’ offices

Town Board Member McMorris:

  • has arranged for a new flag pole and flag (The Fusileers were the donors) to be used for the first time this Memorial Day–a bugle is also being donated by this group to the UV Fire Company
  • Dave is arranging for a “Walk of Honor”  to be put near the flag pole in front of the UV Firehouse–he believe this could be done through donations and families buying bricks to honor veterans
  • Dave and Jake Gosnell (Head of Parks) and George Kolb (Building Inspector) all attended a meeting in Middletown to learn more so they can bring green, money-saving energy to Union Vale–the towns of Rochester and Esopus are currently saving  and even making money on their use of solar on their landfills
  • Dave pointed out that the Central Hudson lines now end at the UV property line so making the switch to solar energy should be much less expensive than in other towns

Agenda Item Comments from the Public: Mrs. McCabe rose to request that political signs be discussed in the new signage rules–currently political signs are not supposed to be put up in town prior to 30 days before the election, but if someone violates the size or placement law regarding such signs, that person is given 30 days to take the sign down before penalties are applied. Anyone can see that this law has little effect.

Next Ms. Maas introduced Ed Kasche, who has agreed to chair the Community Day committee.

Ed Kasche:

  • New community day approach– two days– June 2 and June22, the first in the day, the second at night ending with the fireworks
  • a schedule of events is in the works, many former events and some new–stay tuned for more

(thanks to Ed and his Committee for his enthusiasm and time)

Jake Gosnell (Parks)

Jake spoke of his need for a new mower and presented his research- The UVTB was very receptive

Tom St. Onge (Recycling Center)

April 21 and 22 constituent Earth Day weekend and clean-up day around Union Vale. To get involved in a hands on fashion stop by the Recycling Center get an orange trash bag, fill it, leave it by the road side, tell the Recycling Center where you left it, and help make the Town cleaner.

Safety equipment for volunteers can also be obtained at the Recycling Center.

Old Business

Ms. Maas:

Taking another look at the idea of farm operations and wedding venue site rentals, Ms. Maas said that there would be no new laws coming from the Town (we will follow State law) but that if residents had complaints they should register such with her and something will be done.

The Signage for Town Center and Neighborhood Commercial Districts has been rethought and there will be more information coming later.

Former Supervisor Hitsman was called on to announce a contest to name the gas station on Rte. 82 that will be erected on the property she sold. A free tank of gas, a beverage, and some food constitutes the prize for having the name chosen. The name must have the word “Verbank” in it.

A resolution was passed declaring April Pakinson’s Awareness Month.

A motion was made to pay town bills.

Public Comments: Mrs. McCabe read most of the following statement in her three minute time period:

Anne McCabe-Darren Rd.
Ms. Maas, at the first vote of the first official meeting of the Town Bd in 2018, you urged your peers on the Town Bd. to vote to pay 50% of the supplemental insurance premiums for five
retired persons affiliated with the Town of Union Vale. Although you never disclosed their name or affiliation with the Town, you assured your Town Bd. peers that no one had “told them” they had to pay 100% of this supplemental insurance premium cost as stipulated by the Town Code, the equivalent to the Town Constitution. The vote came as a motion, not a resolution, from Mr. Welsh who voted to pay out these public funds for this year (not agreeing to follow your suggestion to make this payment somehow “grandfathered in.) The Town Bd. voted to do so.
At the end of that meeting, I tried to ascertain whether these five retirees were employees of the town or elected officials– the difference was significant to me in terms of what a reasonable person might expect from each– the one seeking a job, the other seeking to become an official of the town. Your response was that these were “staffers.” That was not an answer to my question, so I used the Freedom of Information law to find out exactly who each was, what position each held, and when each retired. I discovered that all were in fact elected officers of the Town, 3 having been Town Supervisors, 1 a Town Clerk, and 1 a tax collector.
All were ethically charged by the offices for which they ran and the support for which they asked people to follow the Town Code. Each by virtue of his or her office knew it to be the final word in Town procedure and law.
So, although I have great empathy for all of us in these days of rising insurance costs, I find that first vote to be essentially flawed by virtue of insufficient information presented and misleading statements made. I ask you to nullify that motion.
Personally I believe that each person can only pursue happiness if given access to affordable health care, and my solution would be a single payer system. I acknowledge that most of you do not share this belief. But, I believe that you all would agree that bestowing special grants to only certain people, no matter how close to them we are, by using public funding to do so is not good policy.
I ask you to nullify that first vote of 2018 which has, no matter what your actual intentions were, all the appearances of cronyism.

Former Supervisor Hitsman then rose to recall the work she had done on removing the bushes around the fishing area.

Next Official Town Meeting  is May 17, 2018.

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