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.

 

 

Public May Comment Meeting: June 21, 2018-UVTown Board

 

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.

Thanks for reading, Anne–

(The Town Board Meeting began late, at 8:06 pm, because of an Executive Board Meeting; however, at 7;54 pm for some reason, the Town ran the June 17, 2018 meeting on Channel 22. I think that had I not been watching that channel since 7:30 p.m., I would not have realized what was happening. The 6.17.18. meeting loop was removed at 8:01pm when the live t.v. screen showed a Town Board table occupied only by Mr. Battistoni, Town Lawyer.)The meeting was continued at 8:05pm in public.

Fire Department Presentations: Fire Chief  talked about the various roles of volunteers in the Union Vale Fire Department. Clove Rd. is Station #2 in Union Vale– two engines are stationed there.  Station #1 is in Verbank which has one fire engine and one rescue truck.  There is a tankard in that station also, a very important tool in our fire fighting. Station #1 has a brush truck as does Station #2.  There is a hose truck which helps in fighting a fire in a residence with a long driveway. There is also a side-by-side vehicle which is used for assisting people in areas hard to reach from the roads. There are about 60 members in the Union Vale Fire Department.  There is a Board of 5 Commissioners.  The organization has many fund raisers and is always looking for more volunteers.

The Resue Department then had a presentation. Rescue Squad Division is a part of the Union Vale Fire Department, but all members are NYS certified EMT’s.  Union Vale has 22 people on the squad, 12 of which are EMT’s. We have fully certified people. It is a 35 minute ride to any of the hospitals, so the Rescue Squad wants to be as well prepared as possible.  The Union Vale squad is even prepared for those who overdose on opioids. Opiod abuse is happening everywhere indiscriminate of financials, quality of houses, skin color, etc. 

Betsy Maas asked for a qualification of terms.Fire District –legal entity same size as town–can collect and assess taxes. Fire Company is under the jurisdiction of the Fire District. We should refer to the officers as Fire District Officers.

uvfdny.com is a good way to contact them or stop by one of the fire houses. This group received warm applause.


Then Cricket Valley Energy presented: (Scott was the presenter)

-Cricket Valley started in 2009; in 2017 all the permits were received: Building 1100 megawatt power station. Cricket Valley is putting in transmission lines through Union Vale. ( tree clearing, helicopters, etc.)

A new trasmission line is necessary for the greater output, and the current line is fifty years old. This also provides for a backup line.  Cricket Valley did not purchase new lands for this line; it is adjacent to the old ConEd line and within its property.

Article 7 (NYS permit)  Process was used to put through the transmission line.This state requirement necessitated public hearings which started in 2014.  The Public Service Commission had hearings in Albany. The permit process was three years long.

The plant is in Dover. We had several legal notices posted, and Town Supervisors were notified–see Cricket Valley newsletter on their site.

What are benefits from transmission line in Union Vale? This fifty-five million dollar line will provide a backup for the power grid. They have used some union workers, and some are from here.

Before the line goes on- line, the ownership will be transferred to ConEd.

Construction  update on Transmission Line: started work in 2017; completed right of way access–removed trees. Now we are installing the foundation for towers ( 140-165 feet). In 9 locations they have drilled into bedrock. ( Also they have an endangered species monitor.) Also they have just done a danger tree assessment– trees with dead limbs or in danger of falling- by state law these trees must be removed. Starting in July towers installation will be begun. Helicopter work is involved. The helicopters are staged at Sky Acres. These copters fly equipment into the sites. When they get ready to set the structure, there will be a second larger helicopter used. It just flies over the right of way. “We don’t fly over people. We don’t fly over cars.” NJ Electric is our contractor on this. ConEd maintains the towers. The installation of towers will start in July. Project is roughly 55 million.

Update on Power Plant–

It was old munitions plant , then a tire company  that burned down. Cricket recycled as much as possible. All they took off site was hazardous material as required by NYS. Then this site became a brown field. Three one-on-one combined cycle units are being built. Last month most of the underground work was finished, and now vertical work begins. “It’s just beautiful out here,” said Scott. Four hundred workers on site now.  They are using some local sub-contractors.

Maas: People want to know what is going on in North Clove? Answer: these are access points to get to the Dover Plant. In some cases there is an agreement with landowner as in case of Able Christmas Tree Farm.

Walsh: Is there grant money for Union Vale?  Answer: no

Bill McCabe: Where does gas come from ? Answer : Iroquois Pipe Line

Town Supervisor’s Report:  Betsy Maas–Town Finances

We are about 78% year of expenses to date. Another week and pay check service will be in place. Made a change in insurance brokerage firm. We paid the $55,000. to pay the bill for paving. We found that keeping the Town Hall open on Saturday mornings petered out (when?–not clear when). We did a little survey on U.V. Town Hall site? ( Who knew?) New Hours–8:30-4:00. Jan -June we can do Sat. hours.  ( This was very confusing to me. Will these new hours create a new employee? Also, who knew about the survey? I am on the website but saw no mail from the Town of Union Vale until today. So how does this survey reflect even the people on the website? Anne).

Seven buildings in Tymor Park need new roofs and there is other repair work to be done. We should start working through how much these things cost.

Sheet on taxes– anybody on mail list got this today.  General fund is $1,079,000. Try to pay before the 31st.

Michelle left her job to take another job, so there will be a new employee.

Councilperson Walsh: salt shed must be dealt with–new project–infrastructure

Councilperson Kelley: Union Vale can form an aggregate to save money. She is researching it now. Home school day was a success. Birdwatching, historic walks, and history are a great resource here. Corrina brought a program from LaGrange Community Day to compare and contrast.

Councilperson Frasier- still not feeling completely 100%–nothing to report

Councilperson McMorris- working with Councilperson Kelley to see about aggregates and making money on recycling.

Highway: Mr. Wisseman-absent

Ms. Maas said she wants to work on circle to improve it. Richie and she will work on it.

Mr. Frasier: can we put signs around the Town Hall to direct traffic? Answer: Yes

Tax Collector Report: County has been paid.

Tom Murphy, the Chair of the Assessment Review Board presented.

Every house in the town is reassessed every four years ( 1/4 of houses done each year). Presently this is a 5 member board with one person on it who is on two town Boards, which may be a conflict of interest, so Board is considering 4 or 3 members). Town Board will discuss this and get back to it.

Mr. Kaich, head of Community Day Committee- big success–$78.00 profit. Thanked Arlington jazz bands; Next year will include Millbrook .

no exact number of participants

surveys returned were few– next year they will be distributed better

good job

Jessica: Recreation Dept.

Thanked Mr. Kaisch and all who worked Community Day, especially life guards.

Reviewed the upcoming Recreation Calendar. Movie next week is Black Panther.

Park Update: Jake Gosnell sent it in.

Working hard and thanks for new mower.

Animal Control

Dutchess County kennel is a disgrace. We need to study alternatives.

Library : Dues for Next 3 Years

Ms. Maas said she wants to send last year’s committee minutes to MidHudson Library. Councilwoman Kelley said the Mid-Hudson System was familiar with the committee and the fact that 75% of the Town of Union Vale supported paying the system to keep the service. Ms. Maas still wanted to wait. This will be taken up at July 5 meeting.( IF you want to support the library system access, please email or call ALL five members of the Town Board– 22 people have already supported this measure.)

Procurement Policy was adopted.

Shannon Blake, the Acquatics Director at Tymor Park questioned why a pool ladder making the pool accessible to wheel chair patients which had been approved in the 2010 budget was knocked out of the  current budget. Shannon believes this might be a violation of the handicapped persons law.  Ms. Maas said they had to talk about this.

Bill McCabe rose at public comment time and said the public input had been reduced by 50% and that the “working” meeting should be televised with public comments recorded. Ms. Maas said that he and she had discussed a bit at the last working meeting, so Bill said that he expected that that would continue and be televised.

Meeting ended: See the meeting yourselves on YouTube: Union Vale Town Bd. June 21, 2018.

 

Notes on the No-speak, no interaction with constituents 6/7/18 UVTB Meeting

(Editor’s comments within the parenthesis–After the last public meeting it became obvious that not permitting public comments or questions during this “working meeting of the Town Board” had severe drawbacks. At the last “official” meeting the Town Board ended up voting to remove the money amounts from the Town Code procurement policy — this was a good idea to remove the costs, which change with the market, and I applaud this. But the vote was taken before the second policy to accept this new procurement had been changed from a form which  included two contradictory paragraphs. Nobody at the public speaking town board defended the paragraphs: after a taxpayer (Bill McCabe) pointed out the contradiction, Ms. Maas said yes, Councilperson Kelly (who was absent from the work meeting because of family business) had pointed this out the day before, and yes, it was contradictory. Ms. Maas also stated that the Town lawyer had found two other problems with the wording of the new Code  (Ms. Maas did not state what these issues were). Nevertheless the illogical wording was voted on and passed by Ms. Maas, Mr. Walsh, Mr.Fraiser, and-Mr. McMorris — who at least offered a protest but concurred after the others said it could so easily be  fixed at a later time. So, this efficient method of pushing things through with little public reaction, has resulted in an efficient process by which to do shoddy work.)

Meeting of the Union Vale Town Board (no public comment was accepted) on June 7, 2018

The first item discussed was the Procurement Policy — which had been approved at the public-are-allowed-to-speak meeting of May 17, 2018.  This document which all members present at the time of the vote had agreed was flawed had nevertheless become Town policy with this May 17 vote.

It was agreed by the whole Town Board that current “C” — which the Town Attorney said was not legal — would be stricken and replaced by current “D.”

The language within new “C” was changed from ” lowest bidder” to “lowest responsible bidder.”

Then there was a discussion of language present in the approved bill that said”performance bond” which the attorney felt would be better stated as “irrevocable letter of credit.”

In section “H” on page 5 of the flawed, approved document the Town Bd. agreed to remove wording which said,”not needing to solicit quotations” and require the explanation sheet for the purchase so that such purchase would be consistent with the rest of the policy. The Attorney will revise the wording  and it will be voted on in the public -comment- permitted June meeting, now referred to as the “Agenda” meeting.

Next was discussion of the revision of the Employment Manual

Sick Days are now 4; they were 5, and the employees have requested 12; consideration might be given to 6.   There is a limit of 32 hours of accrued sick time (4 days). Personal time is for full time people only. Holidays are 11 — employees requested 2 floating days as well.

The Board made it clear that there should be differences in benefits for full time workers, part time workers, and seasonal workers.

The Town could start a deferred payment savings plan, a change in bereavement leave to 3 days, a change from 5, and use the other 2 for vacation, personal, or sick — to be discussed.

Right now a full time person is described as one who works at least 35 or 40 hours per week (depending on job description) year round.

Miss Maas suggested making 32 hours full time, which would expand the number of full-time employees, increase retirement costs, and increase medical costs. The rest of the Board did not concur.

Mr. Frazier pointed out the distinction between elected officials and town employees.

The resolution going forward is to stay at 35 hour minimum for full time status with no floating holidays — so stay with 11 federal holidays. On snow days, people staying at home must use a personal day unless the Supervisor declares an emergency, but there is a specific paragraph in the Handbook to cover various scenarios. The County Executive’s calling an emergency does not  apply to Town Employees. This discussion will be continued at the next “work meeting.”

(So….what do you think? Do you think that the presence of non-Board members at these “No Agenda”— no comment meetings would be helpful in creating better legislation and widening the perspective of the Board members?  Call  or email ALL the Town Board members and let them know.

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

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

Corrina Kelley corrinakelley2015@gmail.com ; phone724-3126

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, Anne– End of May 2018 minutes of NO-Constituent Input Town Hall Meeting

May 17, 2018: The Official Town Board Meeting: taxpayers get to speak! Taped broadcast is on channel 22 and on Youtube.

This “Official”  5/17/18 Union Vale Town Board Meeting was able to be viewed live and is on tape on Channel 22 and also on You Tube. The first Town Board Meeting of each month is still not broadcast or on tape or YouTube, and no constituent participation of any kind is permitted. Why, you wonder? So do I. Call Ms. Maas and ask her to explain her reasoning.

Ms. Maas began by saying that prior to the meeting starting, the Town Board had two public hearings:

The first was a public hearing to amend the Town Code by removing the Procurement Policy.

First taxpayer speaker Bill Mc Cabe: Although he understands updating the fees and removing them from the Town Code, he has trouble understanding the presence of “H” in the procurement policy which appears to contradict “G” in that policy. Letter “H” appears to remove accountability from the rest of the procurement policy and to set up an atmosphere in which unfair favoritism could flourish.

Ms. Maas said Councilperson Kelly had already notified the town about this yesterday. Ms. Maas said letter “H”  would be fixed. Mr. McCabe said that letter “H” opens the Town to possible cronyism. Ms. Maas agreed. Ms. Maas said Mr. McCabe was right.

Tom Beissinger spoke to agree with Mr. McCabe and to note that lack of documentation would destroy a competitive market. Ms. Maas agreed and said that the Town lawyer had noted two other issues that needed to be fixed and that revision would be done.

The Second Public Hearing was on Storm Water Management

Second Public Hearing on Storm Water Management was introduced by Mr. Kolb who explained that he is the Storm Water Management Officer– a result of the Clean Water Act of 1972.  Storm related issues are overseen by the Town, including highway projects. There are  annual report  and  public hearings required. The basic idea is to protect water quality and ensure best management policies.  All the information presented tonight can be found on the Union Vale Web Site and is also kept in the office of George Kolb. Mr. Kolb said this is an unfunded mandate, and Ms. Maas and Mr. Welch agreed. Mr. McCabe asked whether this oversite involved stream protection. The answer is that this involves any kind of water body, and the county did pay for mapping of these bodies of water. Mr. Kolb said he would work with both Highway and Recreation in inspecting and maintaining these bodies of water. Public hearing is closed.

At 7:41 pm the Official Union Vale Town Board meeting of May 17, 2018 was begun with a salute to the flag.

  • minutes were approved
  • Ms. Maas made a motion to approve the MS4 document for 2018
  • Mr. Wisseman then rose to report on his highway work. He said that this year he did not need to spend the usual 15-20 thousand dollars on buying dirt for the the dirt roads ( Ed. note: Mr. Wisseman said after saying this, “Sorry, Scott.” Apparently this was an inside joke. But it does make me wonder who this Scott is, did the Town always buy dirt only from him?  And what was so different about this year’s dirt supply?)
  • The street sweeping will start on Monday. Ms. Maas wanted to ask about the culverts on Cutler. Mr. Wisseman said he will talk to her about this. Mr. Wisseman said he has about 440 thousand dollars left. Quinlin Rd., Jordan Court, part of Still Rd., and Deer Pond Rd. are on the list to be re-paved.

The Town Hall will be closed on Saturday,5/19/18 because the parking lot will be paved.

Last year’s Board made a good decision in contracting for this last year before oil prices went up.  Motion to accept 284 as Mr. Wisseman outlined it. Motion carried.

Europa McGovern and Saving Money through Green Energy Use

  • Special Guest: Europa McGovern–She works for a NYCERTA funded program and was in Union Vale last year speaking with Council member Dave McMorris. Her program works with local government to encourage use of renewalable energy which lower energy costs. This is her update.
  • There are ten high impact actions which qualify a Town to enter this grant program. She is available to help communities work on completing these actions. When a town completes four actions, the town is eligible to receive some grants
  • .First action: Already Union Vale  has a resolution to complete bench marking ( monitoring large building energy use)
  • Second Action: Union Vale has already adopted a unified solar permit and already received some grant money for this
  • Third: certification of Town representatives in the program- Town officials have already done this by attending workshops
  • Fourth action is to be decided–

 1. Possibly  the Town could upgrade based on bench marks–10% reduction in energy- and generate reports about the upgrade

2.The Town could pursue creating Clean fleets- use alternative fuel  or vehicles–some monies are available– charging stations for vehicles must be publicly accessible– public is charged through subscription fee to use vehicle charging station–the town’s making money is therefore a possibility– grants are possible

3. Climate smart community certification and pledge– probably not achievable by town at this point.

4.   Starts with a resolution– town has drafted one. In Ulster County there are already twelve which have taken the Climate Smart pledge, and there are now 16 out of 28 communities in Dutchess which have thus far taken this pledge.

5.  Another possibility for the future is to have town become default supplier of electricity. Some towns have already done this. This can be an aggregation of towns which then buy megawatt blocks.This results in lower electrical costs and more use of green electricity.

The Town Board then introduced, voted on , and accepted Resolution 18 to Adapt to a Changing Climate Resolution. This resolution recognizes that the use of various substances by humans has contributed to an increasingly warm earth and an unstable world climate. The Town of Union Vale adopts the Climate Smart Pledge. John Walsh suggested sending a copy of the resolution to the Planning Board. This resolution was read aloud.

Town Supervisor’s Report: We collected $161,949 in timely tax payments and late fees. Recreation Dept. took in $ 64,000 for its camp registrations. FEMA sent storm damage money to the town.

We at this point are at 40% of each department budget amount.

The Board is still working on the final wording of the Procurement Policy and next is the Employee Manual. Cash audits are complete and the annual update report is ready. The Town implemented pay check reform and hired a pay check provider.  Last month 8 employees signed up for deferred compensation plan by which they contribute on a pretax basis. May 15 is Peace Officer Day, but two council members had to be out so that will be done next month.

Mr. McMorris: Memorial Day Services on the Green at 9:00 am.

Mr. Walsh: went to new Vassar Hospital, high-tech, more with neo-natal and heart care- 545 million dollars were spent. This should be open next year.

Ms. Maas announced that Millbrook High School Girls soft ball team went to state and won. Parade on Franklin St. in Millbrook.

Mark Covielo has resigned from County Legislature. The candidates to replace him will be interviewed next Monday, and then the Town of Beekman will interview. Both Town Boards vote for the replacement to start on May 29,2018.

Shredding day is next Wednesday. Grievance Day for Taxes is May 23 also.

Public Comments on Agenda Items:

Bill McCabe: The sign law making distinctions between two areas is good. Is there any attempt on the part of the Board to address strobe lights in neighborhoods, such as Christmas lights? Also although the previous Boards have made commitments to deal with political signs, nothing has yet been done. Bill reminds us of that.

Ed Kaich: Our Community Day is June 2,2018, Saturday. This committee of volunteers is working to put together a number of family oriented activities. “We are trying to get community members back involved with the community. “Every thing is volunteer based. Friday, June 22 is our Community Night, a tail gate and fireworks. Ms. Maas thanked Jessica from Recreation for making beautiful banners.

Jake         then reported about the Parks– new flag pole– ball field.

Recycling: Tom St. Onge said there were 21/2 tons of garbage picked up in the Earth Day week. Tom wants to keep this record breaking pace up, so he will continue to have the center provide clean-up bags.

Jessica: Recreation: Community Day- pool opens just for that afternoon.–visit Unionvalerec.com for details. June 25 the pool opens full time. June 8 is registration for several activities, so check out the website. Miles of Hope in April had a fine turn-out. The full moon hike was also great. Twenty people turned out for the Godfrey Park Day.

Old business-digital sign law: the county will give Union Vale its thoughts on signage. Eventually there will be a public hearing on this. (Ms. Maas did not mention election signs.)  Mr. Walsh spoke about the progress of placing handicapped parking. Some of the green areas near the Senior Center will become handicapped parking. Much of this money comes from a federal government grant. Ms. Maas then introduced a resolution to contract with engineers. The engineering survey is $12,000. The county allocated only $4,000. for engineering in their budget. Morse Associates is the engineer firm.

Dutchess County SPCA got a subpar report, its second in  a row,  for its facility in Red Hook. Possible suggestion for future is to build dog runs locally.

Ms. Hittsman then talked about Verbank Gas and Provisions. She ran the naming contest.  Only three people entered. Sharon Slocum’s Sprout Creek Station was chosen ( Ed. note: the original rules required “Verbank” be in the name. Just wondering? Also is the new name in any way ironic, based as it is on the name of the tributary which many believe is in danger of pullution from oil?).  This name choosing, Lizette said, was a way to bring our community closer.

Possibility of a Town Center–zoning, master plan discussions, a lot of work, but we need to do research. We could start discussing this.

Resolutions of Local Law #3- eliminate Chapter 24 article 64.–read and passed.

An Efficient Way to Do Shoddy Work

Resolution approving the procurement policy: — Dave asked whether this vote should be done before the policy is changed. Ms. Maas said it makes no difference. Dave withdrew his objections.– (Ed. note–  So, under the guidance of Ms. Maas and with the agreement of Mr. Walsh and Mr. McMorris (who did at first question this, but then deferred to the other two), this flawed language, which the Supervisor agreed contradicted itself, was passed. Language has value. On other occasions, the Town Bd. has even adjourned to Executive session to deal with issues, but this time a bill, which everyone agreed was not acceptable, became Town Policy. This idea of having closed Work Meetings does have a cost: there is less input and less time to consider other views.  Also rushing through a vote on a topic covered in a public meeting at the beginning of the meeting at which the vote on that topic is scheduled to take insures that there is no opportunity to make adjustments, even if everyone agrees that adjustments must be made. This is an efficient way to do shoddy work, not an acceptable way to run a town.–What do you think?)

Next Town Board meeting (no video recorded documentation and no citizen input allowed) is on June 7,2018.

May 3, No Electronic Record, No Constituents Comment UVTBd Meeting

Once, again, before we start, do you wonder, as I do, why there is no electronic recording of this other than those that members of the Union Vale Democratic Committee make on their own? Public business is discussed and public tax monies hang in the balance, so why no public distribution of the conversation? If you wonder too, please call ALL of the members of the Town Board and ask why.

The first item was a discussion of a review of the improvements to the UV Town parking lot, striping, and walkway in front of the Tymor barn complex:

  • choice of black top or permeable substance
  • striping (paint lanes for parking) vs. cement headers
  • make Tymor Rd. a private road (as public rd.,backing out on to it  is not approved
  • cost of drainage when parking lot is black-topped vs. the cost of the town’s using permeable materials (someone will need to check with state D.O.T).

Next item discussed was the Town Handbook

  • Personal Time Off–sick days, vacation, leave, personal and bereavement time off — are there too few?
  • What are the rules for taking breaks?– ambiguous now
  • Employee suggested plan to revise vacation, salary, and sick leave policies—————————–(1)probation of three months at lower rate and scale    (2) a scale of increments for vacation leave  (3) twelve days sick leaver yeare and four days personal leave
  • Health insurance–went from zero contribution from employee to 20% contribution  and 50% of deductible in one year — thus creating a 13% pay cut– UV Town was the best employer of town workers and is now the worst in Dutchess County
  • Ms. Maas did say this was harsh and needed to be examined again now– possibly joining NYSHIP’s insurance group to set up a fair pay base

Next item is Using Outside Payroll management

  • should the town go to two times a month pay periods (15th and last day) — cuts down from 26 to 24 pay checks — those paid monthly would receive pay on last day of month — would save $600.00 a year
  • no more time time clock; rather check in and out on phone app.

Next issue discussed was the procurement policy

  • one big change is an update on costs to match surrounding towns: the requirement for an attorney to approve a contract has gone from 25 thousand to 35 thousand in keeping with price escalation and the practice of surrounding towns
  • on May 17, 2018 (the Town meeting that permits constituent comments), citizens will be permitted to address the resolution to adopt a new procurement policy
  • There was a handout on the proposed policy with the changes noted in red. We assume that any taxpayer who wants one of these may go to town hall and get one. (Maybe while there ask why that first meeting of the month is not electronically converted or documented.)
  • (Editor’s note: letter H of this policy (not subject to proposed change) seems to be so ambiguous and as to permit cronyism should an unscrupulous board choose to be so. In the event that such a board might exist in the realm of all possible boards, we think the wording should be more specific so that the section says what it means rather than leaving the door open for intrigue.)

Next issue is Sign Policy

( Editor’s note: despite two requests at citizens’ speaking permitted Town Board meetings, there is no mention of political signs in this policy. Ms. Maas did say after her election that she would be willing to set a fair policy for the placement, size,  and duration of electioneering signs in the town.)

There will be two categories of Sign Policy: one for Rt. 82 (Hamlet/residential) and one for Town Center (RT. 55)– where state and county policy enters the picture

  • the maximum height will be ten feet or 20 feet?  TBD
  • there will be no flashing lights
  • the sign may change–how often has not been determined
  • no rolling or flashing, but sign can change periodically
  • no roof mounted signs
  • all lights must be LED
  • possibility that there will be a limit on the number of lumens in commercial signs and there must be conformity to light pollution issues
  • any  part of a sign structure is part of the sign
  • five foot minimum setback is required
  • Town cannot monitor content of signs

Last Topic was Miscellaneous:

*2 public hearings at May 17th Town Board meeting.

  • John Rapetti retired from the Planning Board– a resume of a new applicant for  the Planning Bd. was handed out
  • Legislator Mark Coviello is resigning from the County Legislature on May 15th so the Town Bd. of Union Vale and the Town Bd. of Beekman  will meet on May 29th to replace Mr. Coviello with someone to be appointed until the next election (this November). Applicants will be interviewed prior to that meeting. (See UVTB site to get details).
  • Europa McGovern will speak at the next Town Bd. meeting regarding grant application.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes on the “Official Town Meeting” of March 15, 2018

Just a reminder that this the second monthly meeting of the Union Vale Town Board is the only one documented on video and the only one at which town residents may comment or ask questions of their elected town officials in this documented format.  Present this evening was  town attorney for the evening, Mr. James Nelson.

 

Prior to this March 15 meeting, there was a public hearing on a law to amend the  Cold War Veterans Exemption and remove the initial ten year limitation imposed. No members of the public spoke, and all Board members voted to pass the resolution.

Ms. Maas pronounced some Town Board procedures. They include the following dictums

  • Residents are permitted to comment on agenda items only at the Official Town Board Meeting (the second of each month) after hearing the “Town Board Member Comment” section of the agenda. Such comments from  the public will  not exceed three minutes and there will be a twenty second warning.
  •   Ms. Maas said that such comments should only be on “important issues” not “trivial issues.”
  • One speaker may not cede time to another
  • Comments must be made to the Supervisor  or the Town Board
  • Comments on Town Issues may be made at the end of the TBMeetings (with the same dicta being applied as with the Agenda Items comments.)
  • Heretofore, until they change, these, Ms. Maas said, are the rules.

Next followed a financial report and update on the progress of the audits, manual updates, clarification of job titles, and role of Union Vale Mail, an attempt to accumulate resident email addresses..

Then each of the other four Board Members commented.

Corrina Kelley reported :

  • Corrina had attended a meeting at Beekman Library and found that nearly 100 volunteers are involved in that branch of the library this year. Corrina had discussed this volunteer program with the Recreation Department earlier.
  • Corrina, George Treadwell, and Ms. Maas went to meet with the principal of Union Vale Middle School.  They all discussed pairing Middle School students (with their parents’ permission) with senior citizens who might want someone to check on them, especially in inclement weather.
  • Also on April 14th some Junior Honor Society students will be working on a clean-up operation in our town (this is done in other towns) working with the Recycling Center and using orange bags to help clean up the roads.
  • Corrina pursued the possibility of interns working on our broadcast program but found that no one could easily fill in as intern, so she is still pursuing other avenues to obtain a paid local video  worker.
  • Corrina asked that the Town Bd site state that the next TBMeeting is April 5th, a working meeting which the public may attend, tape, record, but not speak.
  • Corrina said that the TB had held two additional  Wednesday meetings between the standard two monthly meetings and that a decision for staff was made at one of these and this was a violation of the Open Meetings Law because any staff decisions out of public purview are potentially invalid (Ms. Maas said she heard what Corrina was saying but did not necessarily agree).
  • Corrina believes that all town business should be as transparent as possible.

Dave McMorris reported:

  • Dave said he’s been working with Computel about the financial arrangement with them and on an appeal to have some money returned to the Town, which still has three years left in its. contract. This contract was entered into in 2011. We should have been collecting on equipment fees. John Welsh said it sounds as if the company might have been in violation since 2011.
  • Dave said he, Steve, Andrea, and Jake have been working on the security camera installation process at Town Hall. Using the state grant for this, we now have a better arrangement.

Steve Frazier reported:

  • Steve gave a shout out to Richie Wisseman and the Highway Department for work during the storm–clearing trees and snow. Ms. Maas said  a lot of people were fairly complimentary about the roads.
  • Central Hudson, Ms. Maas said that the company was a little off on its timing with the dry ice, but did deliver it to Town Hall when it arrived.

 

John Welsh reported

  • He congratulated the Supervisor for keeping the town informed during the storm and for her work with Central Hudson.
  • John is also working on Internet policy issues.

Public Comments on Agenda Items were then accepted.

Anne McCabe, Darren Rd., asked

  • Whether one person could speak on Agenda Items and also on Town Issues as Ms. Maas’ dictum had not covered this possibility. Ms. Maas said one may speak both times.
  • Mrs. McCabe then thanked Andrea for a speedy return call about no sound on the televised Town Hall. McCabe also thanked Ms. Maas for her work during the storm .
  • Mrs. McCabe also suggested the possibility of those residents who had generators and wanted to share these being put on a list for their neighborhoods.
  • Mrs. McCabe said that when she had been interrupted while commenting at the last Official Meeting, She later realized that in her comments she had spent the first minute and a half complimenting the members of the Board for various things. So, in the interest of a civil discussion, Mrs. McCabe suggested four rather than three minutes.

Elfrieda Tillman, Shaughnessey Rd., spoke about

  • Being elderly and alone and having a Middle School student check in would be very comforting, but  might be an insurance issue for the town ( according to Ken Andrews).
  •  Elfrieda then asked the new gentleman at the table who he was. Jim Nelson then identified himself as being from Vanderwater and Vanderwater.
  • Elfrieda pointed out that we had been without a three minute limit for two years before the sudden application of a three minute policy during McCabe’s comments, and the interruption of her remarks was a bit untoward.

Town Clerk: Andrea Cassidy

  •  85% of taxes already collected.
  • Please check in on the Town Website to keep informed: This is where all meetings of the Board are posted.

 Kevin Durland: Planning Board

  • Last year problems with Joan Miller’s hours and escrow issues.
  • Fee schedules are now closer to showing applicants what they can expect to spend on the process.
  • Clean House– Jim Nelson new counsel.
  • Combined position of planner and engineer–so far very helpful.
  • Put more responsibility on planning board members themselves–each should know what each application requires in the code.
  • Streamlined the application process— Ms. Maas thanked Kevin for his volunteer hours.
  • Question from Corrina about engineer– in the industry it is uncommon to have an engineer and a planner from the same corporation –Independence brings a higher level of responsibility. Ms. Maas said, “We are not using a planner.” 
  • Kevin said we will ask Jim about legal questions.
  • In the past having the planner run the meeting may have caused problems.
  • Former planner worked on Vassar Hospital and was possibly used to larger projects.

ZBA Chair Jane Smith sent a letter to update TB regarding the ZBA

  • February and March were work session that produced two documents: general information about the meetings; and a document that sets forward a process for applying to ZBA.
  • Also working on a new application form.
  • Also a job description for ZBA membership.
  • Escrow : enactment of provision for reasonable expenses to be returned to the applicant.
  • Over the last few years area variance has become an issue.

Jessica Dickerson, Recreation Dept. Head

  • Reviewed March, April, and May upcoming events.
  • Godfrey Park will be more of a focus for baseball.
  • Volunteer positions are open now for these events.
  • Part of the Egg Hunt will be an Sensory Friendly Hunt and from 1-3 we will have a wheelchair and a visual impaired hunt.
  • Beekman Youth Soccer will be back on our fields (3).
  • Seeking volunteers– call Recreation if  you are interested in sponsorship coordination.
  • Camper registration is on-going.

 George Kolb,  Building Inspector

  • Building  is beginning to pick up.
  • We had one fire on High View Rd. during the storm.
  • Please use email to contact George.
  • Soon we hope to be using credit card payments.
  • 8-12 searches are being done per month.
  • If you are contemplating selling your house, come to building dept. and make sure there are no violations on the property ( however, new residents often find problems on site when they are about to move in.) George schedules an on-site investigation and requires that the owner comply.This service is not paid for by the town. This avoids last minutes sale problems.
  • Drainage will be a new focus.

Old Business:

Court House cameras are on their way.

New Business: Jim Nelson, land use attorney is introduced by Ms. Maas. This discussion involves Jim Nelson, Betsy Maas, Steve Frasier, and George Kelb

  • Discussion:lead -in to future town code changes–will be a future public hearing on this.
  • Craft breweries is first topic.  NYS gives tax benefits for artesian uses of land.
  • One such request is from an apple grower who wants to distill and then have a tasting room–a tasting room is a trigger for the need of a code investigation–George called 15 or 16 towns regarding this with little luck, so he went to other states and found some precedents– a lot of these laws spoke of “artesian” uses ( Dover’s Maple syrup farm is one example).
  • George has no plans from the owner yet, but George is concerned about approving for a 20 person group and setting precedent for a much larger group.
  • Ms. Maas– Agra- Market group is a possibility– if owners with 15+ acres want to consider other uses– 
  • George replied that Town Ordinance makes mining difficult to undertake.
  • Ms. Maas–said a “Special Event Permit” might be an answer.
  • George– legislation might give Building Permit power to Building Department to give a very specific, square footage restriction to the owner..
  • Ms. Maas–said that owners who produce 51% of their ingredients might be allowed to get a permit not confined by space.
  • Dave–what happens when the owner sells?
  • Jim Nelson– says it depends on the use– tasting rooms cannot become book stores but need special approval for the change.
  • Ag and Markets provide zoning exemptions–so often there is a gray area between Ag-Market and Town Ordinance–under a certain threshold, a place could be administratively approved–as George suggested–George says he is required to inspect these places at least every three years.
  • George says the possibility is extensive but has a lot of gray areas.
  • Steve asks whether town can regulate hours and days? George says this is something an attorney should answer. Jim Nelson says it depends on the process in getting the permission. Maybe we could put this in the code, but Steve said sometimes the Ag-Market can ignore town. George said that the line is where the public enter the picture.
  • Ms. Maas said could a 300 person wedding in a barn be covered by special use permits. Mass Gathering could probably be handled administratively.
  • George said that Special Event Permit for a specific event must go through channels.
  • Some large land owners have called regarding weddings in the barns–George said.
  • Ms. Maas said we will send out our info on this topic early. April 19th is next board meeting.

Digital Signage On the Town Center:

George ran discussion–many of these signs are around– the way they look is up to Board judgment. Three types of these signs exist (BeWise ( Town Center)approached George about a new sign-with a digital sign on the base. At this point we do not allow an internally lit signs. The ZPA suggested that the owner come back with more details. The new gas station proposed on Hitsman’s land (Neighborhood Commercial) also is interested in digital signs.

John Welsh thinks this sign idea is nice because we can get an increase in taxes. Dave McMorris says the fire company is also talking about this. 

George says digital signs make a change of gas prices faster in order to comply with posting laws.

Steve then refers to Times Square and would recommend a limit on animated signs. George in response says that static signs  are usually those permitted. Maas asks about Amber Alerts. George says that this type of thing could be done.  John Welsh thinks we could use one at Recycling Center. Maas asks would this placement be a slippery slope?

Maas says usually you base signs on linear footage of the building. Ms. Maas also says residents want to have some say. George says he understands; this town is very rural with its cute little hamlets. The Planning Board must approve and it must be in compliance with the Town Code.

John Welsh says we should be as cooperative as possible with perspective businesses.

George says he is available to research anything on signs. He wants to make sure that whatever the Town Board approves will be appropriate even for two sided signs. The most complicated part of this is the problem of static signs and intensity ( measured in nits)– night and day.

Portable generator guidelines were requested by John Welsh.-

George said any generator, portable or permanent, must have a permit from George’s office. Also CO2 detectors should be in every house.  

On April 19th the Fire District will come and give a report. Now two resolutions are read and passed:

Town Fee Resolution–John Welsh read it– and it was approved by the entire T. B. It will be put on the Website for the Town.

Town Financial Control Policy and Credit Card Policy–read by Steve Frazier–Nay by Steve Frazier, all others Yea.

Introduce new local law regarding escrow ( Number 2 of 2018– Applications with Respect as Per Deposits). –All approved.

Public Comments:

Lisette : In the past, the planner double checked all the applications because our Town Code is very complex and sometimes you have to check more than one part of it. Also Lisette complimented George Kolb.

Elfrieda Tillman asked what a warrant was and was told.

Anne McCabe spoke: She pointed out that Ms. Maas had said she would work on political sign regulation prior to her taking office. McCabe said that in the last election the remedy for violation of Town political sign law was that the sign should be removed within 30 days–thus rendering the enforcement of the law meaningless since the elections would already have taken place. This system rewards law breakers not those who adhere to it. This too should be addressed as we discuss sign in Union Vale.

Second Ms. McCabe returned to the first Official Meeting of the Town Board at which Ms. Maas encouraged her fellow board members to vote to pay 50% of the supplemental insurance cost of 5 retiring Town people by saying that she, Ms. Maas, was certain that “these people had not been told of the change from the Town’s paying 100% of this cost.” However at the end of this same Official Town Meeting, a person who was an elected official and either should have or did know that the rate of payment was 50% the responsibility of the retiree rose to thank the Town Board for the money. I would ask that there should a new vote on a resolution, rather than a motion, which would be preceded by a recognition of the jobs the recipients held in the town since it appears that all of these recipients were in fact not employees but those who sought and held office, complete with the responsibility to enforce the Town Code. 

McCabe said that if these people needed help, there were other ways to do so rather than spending tax payer money, which is wrong. Ms. Maas asked how they might be helped and Ms. McCabe replied by a Go Fund Me page (on the Internet ) or by having public health insurance for all.

Meeting Ended.

So, what do you think about signs, about large land owners renting their barns for weddings, about a re-vote on the Town’s paying 50% of supplemental insurance fees for town officials who by virtue of their office should have known that the fee change was in the Town Code, about only one video taped Town Meeting and about the other Town Meetings that seemed to have taken place outside of public purview. Email your Town Board Members and let them know. Thanks for reading. Do go to unionvaleny.us and read the Town Board posts.

 

Notes on No Minutes, No Public Comment, No Video Town Bd. Meeting 3.1.18

This Town Board Meeting is referred to as a “Work Meeting,” and Ms. Maas made clear it needs not have minutes, video recording, or public comment. We in Union Vale now have only one Town Board meeting, the second meeting of each month at which there are minutes taken, video recorded, and public comment and questions accepted– but this last has been changed to a three minute maximum as of the last public comment session at the dictum of Ms. Maas.

There were three town constituents present, two of whom made sound recordings of the meeting ( Open Meetings Law permits this). This summary is made from a sound recording.

The meeting began with the reading of an unspecified document which, based on references to language in the document had to do with the possession of credit cards by department heads and others. There was some sharp interaction between Mr. Frazier and Ms. Maas as to who might be issued such a card and whether direct access to the computer system was advisable. Ms. Maas said that her decision would be reviewed every year. The Town Clerk noted that an Amazon store card would make figuring the exact purchase and price easier.

Then there was a discussion of who had been holding Union Vale Town credit cards. Ms. Maas said that although the audit said only four, she had collected twenty. Mr. McMorris cited the loss of $11.000 at the concession stand and its connection to lack of good planning before purchasing.

Mr. Frazier reiterated his point that only Department Heads should have credit cards; there should be no designation of them to staff. The presence of invoices and statements as documentation of larger purchases was discussed.

Ms. Maas said that the internet policy under review now would be an issue in the purchasing method. Use of the computers must be restricted so that no Malware viruses could be introduced. Mr. Frazier asked how one could “shop” all sites. Ms. Maas introduced the idea of one computer not connected to other Town programs being used for such shopping.

Mr. Frazier asked why Ms. Maas had to be directly involved in the purchasing, and she replied that she did, suggesting that if he did not like this he vote against this. Mr. Frazier wanted “criminal charges” added to the penalty for misuse of credit cards. The others said this was a given. Mr. Frazier said that savings result from shopping by computer. Mr. Welsh asked whether Richie ( Wisseman) had been consulted about the policy, and Ms. Maas said that “Richie never uses a credit card.”

Ms. Maas and Mr.Welsh discussed using Trusted Agency Accounts for”some of these things we got going”– no specifics available through their conversation.

Ms. Maas mentioned that “Corrina wanted to chat about the open meetings law.” Ms. Maas went on to say that Mr.Robert Freeman said that in work sessions if there were no motions and votes then there was no requirement for minutes. Ms. Maas said there was something “we cannot talk about tonight. Something for the 15th…a confidential audit response. Call me tomorrow.”

At the next meeting there will be discussion of the fee schedule, three code issues — one of which is about the use of escrow accounts for area as well as use.

A town resident on Brush Hill Rd. asks that he be allowed to have a distillery and tasting room on his property. The code at this point does not allow this.

Mr. Molinaro has praised the Adapted Easter Egg Hunt.

Ms. Maas has a new flyer ready for renting out the Town fields, but Mr. Frasier reminded her that the attorney should approve this first,  based on past problems.

Mr. McMorris said the cameras were ready to go as agreed and voted on.

There was some question about the gas tank in the park being empty. No details were audible, except that Ms. Maas said, “That’s what I was told.”

Next, vouchers were signed and more conversation about Town business took place:

  • Portable toilets need to be put out to bid
  • Need to tighten up petty cash ( purchasing of ice packs cited here)
  • MS-4 requirements will give more info and plan to avoid future floods–some bridges and culverts need upgrades
  • Handicapped access needs to be discussed
  • Bid process needs to be addressed
  • First part of 3/15 meeting will be vote on Cold War Veterans Exemptions extension — 600 of these in Town-

February 15, 2018 UV TBM

Notes on February 15, 2018 meeting, the once -a -month kind of meeting that is now called the “Official Town Board Meeting”

Just to be clear: this official type of meeting is now the only Town Board Meeting that will have televised documentation. The second “working meeting” does not. Also during this 2/15/18 meeting a three minute cut off on Public Comments was imposed in the middle of a public comment.
At this one Official Town Board Meeting there were several high school students in attendance who were fulfilling their class requirements in civics. As a former high school and college teacher, I cannot say enough about the respect, attention, and courtesy these students exhibited from the beginning of the meeting to the end. I think we can learn a lot from them. Kudos to their parents and teachers!
At 7:00 pm the Board Members met to interview behind closed doors in executive session. All Board members were in attendance. They returned to the Board room.
Ms. Maas revealed that the interview had been with Mr. Dennis Dunning to complete a term on the Zoning Board of
Appeals. She asked the Committee to vote on accepting Mr. Dunning, and they did unanimously.
Then followed the reports.
Ms. Betsy Maas explained some figures on the cash flow statements she had handed to the Board: three were one time annual events: the Cable Vision franchise, the annual payment on a Town bond, and the $15,000 for workers’ compensation.
The review of the Recreation and Parks operations in the Town revealed the need to cut back expenses by $125,000 this year. The heads of the Recreation and Park Departments offered to make cuts that might have involved one redundancy. This word was used by Ms. Maas later in the meeting but no more information was given, so this remains unclear. This term applies to an employee being laid off. At any rate the two departments made some adjustments which added up to a savings of $130,000. If you would like more clarity, please email your Town Board members. Their emails are at the end of this.
Ms. Maas said there needed to be new programs that would attract more residents to sign up for the Recreation programs.
Ms. Maas announced that the audits and policy manuals are in the process of review and suggested that next month there would be drafts of both.
Ms. Maas said the Town has underspent on IT. No further information was given.

The other Town Board Members then got a chance to speak.
Mr. Steve Frazier spoke about his attendance at a forum in Carey Arboretum on “brining,” a process using 30% less salt on the roads in snowy and icy events with a potential for more efficient results. He is comparing costs now in order to recommend purchase. He is also investigating the costs of active trip-edge sections for snow plows. During plowing these would make adjustments for imperfections in the road surface.
Mr. David McMorris reported that he is looking into the Cable Vision contract.
Mrs. Corrina Kelley spoke about the adjustment in the initial seating arrangement which Ms. Maas had mandated at the first Town Board meeting this year. Corrina said that she would like to hear from the constituents about their ability to see all members of the Board now.
Corrina also asked about the time table for playing the tapes of the Official Town Meeting. She had been contacted by a taxpayer who did not use YouTube and who wanted to know when the televised tapes of the Town Board meeting could be seen. Town Clerk Andrea Casey responded and said she will work on that schedule as soon as she can.
Corrina and Betsy will meet with Principal Scott Woods of Union Vale Middle School on Feb. 27 to discuss how better to incorporate the students of the Middle School into the Union Vale community. Corrina suggested that a current fund raising effort for Earth Day in Hyde Park that involves Middle School students might be something that the Town could replicate. Corrina also said that in light of yet another school shooting, the Town needed to discuss how it would assist if the school had a situation. Further, Corrina suggested approaching Arlington High School to see if there might be a possibility of having high school students work as interns on the Town video equipment.
Corrina stated that the vote of the first Official Town Meeting in January which caused the Town to assume 50% of the costs of supplemental insurance for five retirees in the Town needed to be revisited, especially since only one of these beneficiaries of tax payer funds had retired from the Town prior to the Town Code update mandating the increase in their personal contribution to their own insurance. The other four beneficiaries of this tax money having worked as Town officials had to have been aware of the requirement for their full payment of their own supplemental insurance. One of these was a Supervisor during this time who certainly should have known.
John Welsh announced that he is looking at the details of the cuts by the Recreation Department. He said the Parks Dept. needs a new lawn mower and that the Parks Head has done a good job of finding one.
Ms. Maas said that the payment for the LED lighting involved a finance company that is charging high interest, so she wants to discuss paying off that bill. The others thought this was a good use of time.
The Town Highway Supervisor, Mr. Richie Wisseman, did not appear because his family has the flu.
Andrea Casey announced that the Town Calendar is now paired with the Google calendar. She also said that the information about filing for the STAR program is now available.
Ms. Maas said Joan Miller is now in Town Hall on Saturdays.
A discussion of the JCAP grant of $6,000 which the Town was awarded ensued. The Board voted on a motion to purchase court house cameras from New Way because the savings would be $150.00. The work will be done by Town employees.
New Business brought Mr. Peter Bonk of the Union Vale Historical Society to the table to request five hundred dollars from the Town for an historical plaque to be placed on the old freight house which served during the time the railroad ran through the town (1875-1938). Ms. Maas said she felt Mr. Bonk should find monies elsewhere given the status of the Historical Society and the Town’s need to use redundancy. However, the Town would help through publicity. Mr. Bonk asked the public for suggestions. Mrs. McCabe suggested using GoFundMe and contacting railroad enthusiasts who might want to use the venue to advertise their own antique railroad places; also she suggested that Arlington High School might be contacted about the possibility of making a plaque. Kathy Welsh, Adman for the Union Vale Historical Society, offered to promote this cause on the Union Vale Historical Society Facebook page.
Then came the only Public Comment section of the evening. This author, Anne McCabe of Darren Rd., sat at the assigned chair and began by congratulating the Town Board on its work on the new salt spray, the contact with the school, and the cameras for the court. Then she said that having attended the last “Official” Town Board meeting, she found so much had been covered in that one meeting that she would like to clarify her impressions: was a constable hired to be with the clerk on Saturdays? ( answer No) and was that clerk’s job a new one which should have been posted ( answer No—more hours for current employee, Joan Miller)
Mrs. McCabe also asked about why the two votes at that first official meeting were not resolutions but motions although they involved taxpayer monies. Mr. Frazier explained the difference between the two; Mrs. McCabe thanked him and said that a resolution would be more helpful to taxpayers because they could see and hear the exact language that was being voted on.
At this point Ms. Maas said that Mrs. McCabe had spoken three and a half minutes and she should finish. Mrs. McCabe said that there had been no mention of any three minute rule prior to that very second and that in light of the fact that taxpayers could speak at only one meeting a month and only once then (last year there were two opportunities at each meeting to speak—agenda and non-agenda public comments), that three minutes seemed to be limiting public input. Mrs. McCabe pointed out that she had attended the work meeting and at NO time were the taxpayers present asked to comment.
Further Mrs. McCabe said that she had learned that when dealing with representatives who spend tax dollars it is always best to have a public record, although chatting over doughnuts is a pleasant way to spend time.
Ms. Maas then questioned why Mrs. McCabe had not attended meetings last year (the author in April will be six years past the ovarian cancer surgery and chemo routine she had to undergo). Ms. Maas said the Board was not there for entertainment and Mrs. McCabe should run for the Board because she seemed to find it interesting. (The author is thinking about this, but knows some very qualified younger people who might fill the bill better.)
Mrs. McCabe said that what she did know was that elected officials should be in constant contact with their constituency.
Further, having been a negotiator for a contract, Mrs. McCabe fully understood the burden of representing others and leading. Mrs. McCabe finished her questions and took her place in the audience.
Mrs. Hitsman then rose to say that the Supervisor did not need to have a cash -on -hand audit. Ms. Maas agreed.
At this point Corrina Kelley read a resolution calling for a public hearing on the issue of extending the tax reduction for Cold War veterans. The resolution passed unanimously, and the public hearing will take place on March 15, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. prior to the “Official” Town Board meeting.
Another resolution passed unanimously authorizing the Town Board to purchase insurance against any failure by officers or employees of the Town to appropriately handle Town monies.
Meeting was then adjourned.

So What Do You Think?

Should officials who were ethically bound to enforce Town Code be able to claim ignorance of it when it comes to paying the whole cost of their supplemental retirement insurance?

Should only one of the two meetings of the whole Town Board be televised?

Should a three minute rule be applied to Public Comments?

Should there be two types of public comments as in the past?
Agenda items and Non-agenda items?

When redundancies on staff are apparently taking place, should additional Saturday hours be added? Should the Town be paying for supplemental health insurance of elected officials who now appear to claim they had no knowledge of Town Code on this issue? Here follows the email address of your elected officials.

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

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

Corrina Kelley corrinakelley2015@gmail.com ; phone724-3126

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, Anne