No audio-visual Town Hall meeting of April 5, 2018

Once again, although this summary has been put together from notes of those attending and and a recording taken by by an attendee, there is no effort on the part of the town to have this meeting officially recorded either in audio or visual form. This is a new policy this year, and the concerned reader should inquire of Supervisor Maas, who initiated it, as to why this policy is in effect. This writer sees the practice as a lack of transparency which inhibits a well functioning democracy.

The meeting began with Ms. Maas passing out copies of  the preliminary New York State audit to each of the other Town Board members . Then Ms. Maas discussed with the other members of the Town Board the possibility of initiating a deferred compensation plan for employees and the possibility of using a professional payroll service. This evening’s  meeting would focus on a review of the procurement policies of the Town and the Town Internet Policy. Ms. Maas also said there is a need to hire a local IT person.

Dave then began to discuss the need for an IT person. Ms. Maas said she had a template for a secure town Internet Policy. Dave said he had copies of different ones from the federal government, but also said we need to have an IT person as soon as possible.

Steve then asked for a Pledge of Allegiance,and the meeting stopped,and one was said.

Board Member Steve Frazier said the procurement policy had not been updated since 1997, so the dollar amounts stated  had to be revisited. However Board Member Dave McMorris pointed out that changes had been made in the dollar figures between 2002 and 2015, in part by Steve and John Welsh because Dave (although not on the Town Board at that time) remembered seeing the discussions at the meeting , but Dave said apparently the changes in the amounts of the figures were not reflected in the Town Code. Then followed much discussion of Steve’s thoughts and research on procurement, accompanied by reference to some aspects of procurement used in the Town of Wappinger.  Ms. Maas said that there should be references to “… as long as such a purchase is within the department guidelines.” Ms. Maas also reported that the NYS auditor said any time one is making a purchase there has to be a note to file–a procurement explanation form.

Then Steve said that the Highway Dept. Supervisor in almost every other town sets a money figure which does not need a counter-signature by the Supervisor, but signed only by himself. The Highway Supervisor in this town, Ms. Maas said, “just does not spend money.” Ms. Maas said that this money amount issue could possibly be adjusted every year. Ms. Maas said when she gets a bill for plowing, “the bills are in order.” The Board appeared to agree. Steve also wanted the new code to state what happens in regard to bidding on public works contracts.  Ms. Maas said she might want to see three quotes for each purchase. Steve said that for lower amounts, “You don’t get the big difference.” Steve said that at his job he sees less paperwork as more time to work on the job. Andrea said she could print the draft of the new policy with the perceived changes in red.

It was suggested that at the official meeting on April 19, 2018, the Town Board will vote on a resolution to approve changes suggested this evening. One of the proposals might be to remove dollar figures from the Town Code and have the figures set annually by the Town Board. The vote on this will probably take place in May depending on the need to review public comments and the need use legal assistance to write the proposal into the Town Code.  Dave reminded the Board that the public discussion must precede a public meeting, so this might not occur until June. Ms. Maas said May might still be a possibility.

John Welsh then presented his work on guidelines for what the users of the Town Internet should and should not be doing. He passed out some papers which the Board then read.  Ms. Maas said that she agreed with Dave that the Town needs an IT person. The NYS audit says that employees should not be on Town computers for personal use because of malware.  Dave says that school districts limit access except for approved sites. Corrina pointed out that Jessica’s use of the Facebook page would fall in line with what her job requires, so access might be limited by expectations of what each job requires.  Ms. Maas said that employees could use WIFI for their phones, but John said this could be a problem because the Town system encompasses WIFI. Ms. Maas questioned this, but Steve and Dave joined John in arguing that the WIFI was an entry way to the system. Corrina said that there was a possible way to set up a barrier, and this is done in schools.Then followed a discussion about the path to a server through WIFI.

Ms. Maas said some might not know what “a reasonable precaution is,” so more specifics need to be given about opening emails and using certain sites.

Corrina mentioned that the new programs will ask for a new password every ninety days. Ms. Maas said this was true.

Steve said that he wanted all Town communications subject to FOIL requests unless they are marked “confidential.” Steve said this was why he had two phones. Anything on a town phone can be FOILED. Ms. Maas said that in a lawsuit anything can be subject to discovery process.

Steve suggested highlighting be used in the employee handbook for any critical changes.  Dave said that a cybersecurity class seems to be available through Homeland Security online rather than through the Association of Towns.  Dave has done some of this work already. Ms.Mass said other classes might be available soon.  Dave also said the Town must be sure that the IT person has appropriate insurance against breach. Dave said that the children and families served by the Town must be protected as must employees.

Ms. Maas suggested shared services for IT, but Steve said he has explored this and the price was too high. Ms. Maas said she complained that the county wants to make money on shared service provision.

There is property which the Town might be able to receive. Discussion followed about a cell phone site possibility.

Several announcements were discussed. The Central Hudson bill will be further discussed. Dave discussed some information about energy use. Ms.Maas said the Tymor Park building is the most expensive user. Dave said there are many classes devoted to energy saving and energy use. Dave said the landfill could cover all of our power if we use solar without spending anything out of pocket. Ms. Maas said Mr. Surman will talk about solar use.  Dave intends to go to Saugerties and Esopus to observe their solar successes.












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