Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, NY was held on Monday, October 17, 2005 at the Municipal Building, Van Wyck Street, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520.
The following officials were present:
1.~~~~~~CALL TO ORDER:
Mayor Schmidt called the meeting to order at 8:04 p.m. Everyone joined in the Pledge of Allegiance.
2.~~~~~~APPROVAL OF VOUCHERS:
Trustee Steinberg made a motion to approve the vouchers as follows, subject to review by the Audit Committee. The motion was seconded by Trustee Brennan and approved unanimously.
Mayor Schmidt announced the following appointments with the approval of the Board: Kelly Schultz and Mark Aarons, Community Center Committee and Sandy Hardy, Visual Environment Board.
3. PRESENTATION BY SENATOR LEIBELL REGARDING AMENDMENT ON BUDGET REFORM TO BE ON NOVEMBER BALLOT
Senator Leibell stated that he is going around the Hudson Valley community to talk about the proposed State Constitutional Amendment that will be on the ballot on November 8th. There has been a great deal of criticism and discussion of the way the process has been working in the State Legislature over many years and this will hopefully address the issues we have over about late budgets; this year we were able to achieve an on time budget. It provides for a contingency budget that will take effect automatically on the first day of the fiscal year if the Legislature has not acted upon all of the budget bills submitted by the Governor, it requires to release an agency budget request to the Legislature at the same time they have delivered to the executives, it requires the Executive Budget be submitted on January 15th or February 1st for a newly elected Governor, it creates a fiscal stabilization reserve fund to provide adequate funding for May/June school aid payments. This is an excellent opportunity for us to make sure that we have on time budgets in the future. Thanked everyone for the time.
Village Manager Herbek announced that this was a continuation of a Public Hearing to consider Local Law Introductory No. 1 of 2005 establishing sewer rents in the Village of Croton-on-Hudson. The purpose of this law is to establish a separate sanitary sewer rent fund and propose sanitary sewer rent in the Village of Croton-on-Hudson in accordance with Chapter 14F of the General Municipal Law to ensure a proportional distribution of operation and maintenance costs and to use the sewer rents as the principal source of revenue.
Treasurer Zambrano opened with a power point presentation.
Village Engineer Dan O’Connor summarized the system reports; administration of the systems, reports, paper work, inspections that are made, new lines going in, pump stations, GIS mapping that is done, man hole repairs and rehabilitation, sanitary sewer main repairs and rehabilitation, jetting of the lines to remove any solids that build up, root control in the lines to kill any roots that are in the line. We have a few pump stations that are quite intensive in terms of the operation and maintenance requirements that require routine inspections, pumping of the pump station; a couple of pump stations have auto control systems that we need to operate and maintain on a daily basis, a few of the pump stations have generators that need to be maintained for emergency services when the power goes out and occasional consulting services that are needed to help us improve the system.
Mayor Schmidt opened the Public Hearing
Paul Rolnick, 1 Alexander Lane – Wanted to read a letter from Michael Getz. Mayor Schmidt commented that the public hearing will close tonight and that further correspondence can be submitted to the Village in writing up until Wednesday. Of the $478,000 money borrowed this year was that just for expenses that would be covered by the sewer rent or was that related to the new water project in Harmon? Trustee Zambrano replied that it was not and that it was just related to sanitary sewer projects. Mayor Schmidt stated that we have some very large projects going on and have an aging infrastructure just like the water system. Mr. Rolnick stated that he was at the hearing last May and feels that the board is misleading the public on the real costs to run the Village and who exactly pays for it. Last May, the proposed Sewer Rent was projected to reduce the budget by about $150,000 and now it is about $180,000. Last year, the $150,000 was just about what was needed to come to a budget increase over the year before which was just below 10% which was a goal that Mayor Schmidt had stated. It’s not a savings to the budget since we are going to be paying this money anyway and will be paying more since we will not get the tax benefit. One of the benefits that have been talked about is raising revenues from entities that have not been charged for sewers before, including the schools and churches, and when they get charged they are going to pass this fee on to us. Is it really worth it to collect this additional revenue from those entities that you have not collected from and can you legally collect these fees?
Edith Scott, Ridge Road – Read a letter from her husband Robert Scott who was unable to attend. You proposed to lease to us what we already own namely the sewers, which were brought and paid for by sewer assessments at the time of construction. What is now deductible on tax returns as taxes will now become separate and non-deductible Sewer Rents based on our usage of water. You are missing other opportunities; you can lease us the Village streets, which we also own, money spend on street maintenance can be called road rents; we also own village parks so why not transfer the expenses of their up keep to a separate account payable by everybody as park rent; money spent on the police department can be transferred to a rent-a-cop program, school taxes could become school rents and they could all further reduce taxes and our tax deductions. We would soon be living virtually tax-free with astronomical rents. What is wrong with this new law? Everything. No concrete numbers or percentages are offered and we must take everything on trust. Rents are described as a certain percentage of Village water to be reveled later; those who do not use Village water will pay a flat fee also to be revealed latter. It’s all open ended; a blank check for Board members trying to make themselves look good but offering no demonstrable benefit to the Village. Accounting trickery will only speed the departure of the growing number of people, young and old, who can no longer afford to live here.
Father Michael Keene, Pastor of Holy Name of Mary Church – Is thankful to two parishioners who serve as Trustees on the Board who have been keeping him informed of the progress as well as what has been printed in the local publications. It boils down to what he considers a nominal fee to the Church. If it is 15% it would be over $400 or so that they would be responsible for paying. A little over $200 if it is a 10% fee that is decided upon. At the last meeting he raised that they are a very community friendly church in that they sponsor CYO basketball, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and AA meetings. You don’t have to be catholic to come to the Church. They probably have the only public facility in Croton for anyone that wants to use it. Expenses will be passed on to houses of worship but he will not pass it on to the parishioners. It is not a good will gesture for houses of worship that have been tax exempt to be put upon by this way of taxation. If he receives a bill he will pay it but he opposes it.
Pat Barua, Croton on Hudson – Is basically opposed to the law for the reasons set forth in the letters by Trustees Wiegman and Kane but came to ask some questions. Are there any projected administrative costs to having the sewer fund? Treasurer Zambrano replied that there wasn’t any that he was aware of at this time. How many septic tank owners are there in Croton? Treasurer Zambrano replied that he was not sure but will be working with Dan O’Connor to determine how many people fit into that category. Ms. Barua asked if only those septic tank owners that have the ability to connect will pay the rent. Treasurer Zambrano stated that was correct. Ms. Barua further asked if it costs the Village anything for them to connect. Village Manager Herbek stated the Board could make the decision to extend a sanitary sewer line. It’s usually the developer that pays the sanitary sewer line in a particular area and in the past where sanitary sewer lines have been extended in non subdivision kinds of locations, they have all been paid for by the property owners themselves. Mayor Schmidt stated the homeowner is responsible for hooking up to the sanitary sewer line. So they either pay the tax for a sewer system they are not using or they have to pay to hook up. They are currently paying for this out of the general taxes. Ms. Barua asked if Metro North and the County Parks are going to have to pay this rent. Mayor Schmidt stated as far as they are concerned they will be paying this rent. Ms. Barua asked if anyone checked with them to see if they have a position. Mayor Schmidt stated that they have not but they were notified of the hearing as everyone else was. Ms. Barua asked if it is correct that the rents collected will be put in a separate fund and that the fund can only be used for sewer operations and improvements? Village Manager Herbek replied that this is correct. If we need to make a big capital improvement to our sewers are we limited to using the sewer fund or can we raise debt the normal way? Treasurer Zambrano stated that we can borrow the money. The fund will have to become self sufficient to pay its own debt. So if additional funds are borrowed, the new rates will have to include the proportionate amount to cover the debt service payments which would include principal and interest. You indicated that we have some big projects coming up so potentially this could be a big sewer rent that is not tax deductible in excess of the 15% you posted. Mayor Schmidt stated that the board would determine this rate every year based on projections and past performance of the fund. Ms. Barua wanted to bring to the Boards attention State Comptroller Opinion 79-792 which says that you have to set out the actual rate in the law that you are inacting and that you can only amend the rate by going through a local law procedure. When will the first bill be sent if this is passed? If it is passed, it will become effective December 1st and you would not get a bill until the end of the fiscal year which is May 31st.
Mel Howard, 98 Penfield – How was the $82,000 in interest charges determined? Treasurer Zambrano stated that he was able to go back and segregate the debt that the Village has incurred for sanitary sewer projects for the last four years. How much debt do we have for sewer purposes and how much overall debt does the Village have? Treasurer Zambrano replied that it is approximately $900,000. Mr. Howard stated that $82,000 in interest seems on the high side for $900,000 debt. You also stated that there was $44,496 in expenses for the nine months to date. How did you arrive at $99,000 in average annual expenses for the operation of the sewer? Treasurer Zambrano stated that he took the average over the last three years. Why was the average so much higher than the last nine months? Treasurer Zambrano replied that we are on a fiscal year that began in June. When you charge off the expenses for the water pumps where did you charge them? Treasurer Zambrano replied that they were charged to the sanitary sewer line in the General Fund. Mr. Howard stated that he has no comfort in the level of expenses that you have been put out on the floor and would prefer that it was a tax rather than a rent fee.
Joanne Minett, 5 Van Cortlandt Place – What are the entities and businesses besides the golf course, schools, churches, Metro North, which we are not guaranteed money from, and Croton Point Park? Mayor Schmidt stated that we are not enacting this law to go after these institutions. The purpose of this law is to institute a sewer rent that is fair and equitable for the homeowner. As a homeowner, if you are on the low end of water usage you are subsidizing many sewer improvement projects that benefit high end users of the sewer system. Yes, we will collect from a few other instutions that are not currently paying but the real purpose is a fair and equitable payment plan. Ms. Minett asked what if you were to lower the water tax and propose this new sewer rent fee. Mayor Schmidt stated that each fund is independent. Village Manager Herbek further stated that the water fund has to be its own fund and it needs to cover the costs of operating the Village water system. It has to be run as a self-subsidizing account to cover all the costs involved with the Village providing water to the people who are using Village water. Sanitary sewer rent is very similar to the water charge. For those people who are using the sanitary sewer system it is covering those costs of operating it. Most of the Village operations are incurred by the General Fund, which is $14 million and the largest fund, the Water Fund and the Sanitary Sewer Rent would be a third fund. We can’t have a separate fire fund, police fund or public works fund since we can only do those things that are prescribed by State Law and State Law allows you to establish a Sanitary Sewer Fund. Ms. Minett asked if the golf course pays a water tax. Village Manager Herbeck announced that they are one of the largest users and they pay a water bill.
Bob Wintermeier, 43 Radnor Avenue – Prefers that we didn’t use the term sewer tax or sewer rent and would prefer a sewer usage fee. When you look at this proposal, it is a transfer from the general fund to another fund. The sewer and water are a utility. Every facility in the village pays their utility bills. The major benefits will go to seniors who are on fixed incomes and low-income people. Most of those people take the standard deduction so as a tax it is meaningless. The people who are affected are the County park system, the golf course, railroad, and home businesses that have large cliental that have to make use of the rest rooms. The school district should not have any complaints since they will be passing it right back to us as a tax deduction. The church will be asking for additional donations. The churches are a great source of charitable contributions but they are also large users of water; large lawns that need to be watered, large numbers of people that congrate for money making and fundraising. So some of this additional money can be recouped through some of these activities. If bills go up, you can conserve water. It’s unfair that if someone does not use the sewer fund, that they have to pay. You stated that if the bills are not paid that you are going to add that amount to the tax bill. Doesn’t think that you should do that since that then becomes a tax. You should continue to try and recover those funds otherwise that gives them an advantage as having a tax deduction by not paying. Is a little concerned the $44,000 for this year is more than half of what is allocated. More details are needed from the Board and would hope that you will check with those people who are most affected by this.
Mark Aarons, 18 Georgia Lane – Could we as a Village increase our overall water fees? Mayor Schmidt replied that you could only spend it on water related expenses. So, sewer can’t be defined as being part of the water expense and we are mandated for fiscal responsibility if we want to take care of the future of our infrastructure and set aside funds we can’t spend them from a separate sewer fund fee? Treasurer Zambrano replied that you can have a combined sewer and water fund but you have to be able to generate sewer revenues. Mr. Aarons asked if they would have to be designated as sewer charges. Treasurer Zambrano replied yes. Mr. Aarons replied that we are being very transparent about the way that fees are being accessed and expended. In the general tax, I don’t think most of us see what goes towards our sewer expenses. It is probably one of the largest expenses that we have to incur as a Village and applauded the Board for trying to come up with a new way to put aside funds for infrastructure problems. Are we currently not collecting any fees from the schools, churches or Metro North for use of the sewer? Mayor Schmidt stated that was correct. Mr. Aarons replied that we can only be ahead and not behind regardless of what their position is on paying this fee. Those people who have septic tanks that have been paying for the use of those who use the sewers without the benefit of being able to use those sewers would benefit. So people talk about how this is an inequitable resolution by the Board; I can’t disagree more.
Joe Slakas – 44 Lounsbury Road – Has a septic tank and doesn’t mind paying the sewage tax. It would cost him $50,000 to connect to the sewer system as he would have to rent through other properties to do it. He lives on Lounsbury Road, which is below Kaplan’s Pond, which is below the arboretum. The golf course drains into the arboretum, into Kaplan’s Pond, down underneath his house and onto Lounsbury Road. You would have to put some kind of system into the sewers on Lounsbury Road since that is where most of the drainage from the golf course goes. When a lawsuit is filed against this by a group of non-profits, they will have a pro bono attorney representating them. Have you set aside funds to defend against that lawsuit?
Howard Millman, President of Scenic Ridge Homeowners – Scenic Ridge and Westwind has a proprietary sewer system. Is there any way that a proprietary sludge removal system will be connected to the village system? Village Manager Herbek stated that it would have to be evaluated from an engineering standpoint since it would involve connection, running a sanitary sewer line down to the Arrowcrest pump station. Village Manager Herbek stated that he thought he was going to ask whether they are currently paying for sanitary sewage through the General Fund. If that was your questions, the answer is yes. You are essentially paying twice; through the General Fund plus your own proprietary system. Mr. Millman asked how that might change under this proposal. Village Manager Herbek stated that whatever the charge you have been paying through the General Fund would be eliminated. It gets back to an equity and fairness issue. Mr. Millman stated that both Scenic Ridge and Westwind have investigated putting in their own pumping station and sanitary piping. They would very much entertain a prorated process if the Village would extend the sewer system from their area up to Arrowcrest. Village Manager Herbek stated extending the sewer line would only happen if those properties pay the additional cost to extend the line. Mr. Millman replied that they would be interested if they could prorate it over a period of time and potentially be part of the sewer system for the Village as opposed to being at the mercy of an entrepreneur.
Georgiana Grant, 37 Wells Avenue – Was hoping to hear overwhelming reasons for why we are doing this. It sounds like it’s not an awful lot of money that will come if you enact this law; it might even be considered a wash; it’s kind of a shifting of funds; maybe more equitably; maybe not. Mayor Schmidt stated that we do have the resident’s water bills and this will translate to your payment. You can look through that list and see where the wide variation is in terms of how much water people use. Most of the people in this room are on the low end of water usage but we have residents who are high water users; you are subsidizing their usage of the sewer system based on their higher water usage because more water has to go through the system and wear and tear. In order to subsidize the system and make sure it is equitable on that level, those that use it pay it on a proporiate level. That is the basis of the equity part. Trustee Steinberg stated that that is the key to it. The average household at $65; you go from that basis to a proportionate one based upon what your actual use is. Ms. Grant stated that Pat Barua mentioned that the wording in the law is that people who connect to or are within the sewer district limits how can we exclude the septic tank users that are within the sewer districts? Treasurer Zambrano stated that the County excluded them from the district. Village Manager Herbek stated that we have been successful in eliminating from the Ossissing Sanitary Sewer District certain properties from the village that stood very little chance of ever seeing a sanity sewer connection. If you are within the district boundaries and you have a septic system, you end up having to pay a sewer tax. Ms. Grant asked if Metro North is within the district? Village Manager Herbek replied yes. Also, residents that have septic tanks now may go into the sewer system when it’s upgraded. From an environmental standpoint our goal as a community should be to get as many of those people connected to the sanitary sewer system. Ms. Grant asked if anyone has taken into consideration Skyview, Van Wyck and Bari Manor. Doesn’t the golf course own the water line for Finney Farm and that they do not pay a water bill? Mayor Schmidt stated that is correct. So, the golf course is not only going to be paying their increased bills but also Finney Farm bills so that is why I have some problems on the equity of it. If we are looking for equity, I would suggest that it is very inequitable for those that don’t have sidewalks to be paying half the cost of replacing them that is rightfully the homeowner’s responsibility to do. Ms. Grant stated that if we don’t get anything from Metro North now for all that we supply how can we expect to get a sewer tax from them? This is not a political issue and there should be a unanimous vote either for or against. If this is good for the Village, it’s good for the Village and there should not be a difference on opinion. Mayor Schmidt responded that this has become a political issue based on misinformation and that is where this has become very polarized and politically motivated; he doesn’t anticipate a unanimous vote. We are presenting this as an opportunity to do something that is right for this Village, something that is looking forward not backwards. Yes, this is how it’s been done in the past; how we collected fees associated with the maintenance and upkeep of this sanitary sewer system. We are looking for new ways of doing things that are equitable and that provide for the future. We are providing a mechanism and a means to make sure that we as a Village and Board are doing our fiduciary responsibility to provide the best for our residents in this community by looking at every opportunity that the law provides to make sure that we are taking care of those long and short range things and to ensure that our aging infrastructure is taken care of. Most communities have ignored these things for far too long. This is an opportunity to anticipate those costs, provide that the users that are using it now, not only help to pay for current usage but help maintain the system. Ms. Grant asked how much additional money is coming in as a result of this. Mayor Schmidt stated that the purpose is to make it fair and equitable.
Marshall Goldberg – 11 Alexander Lane – Is skeptical tonight because the initial two things that he couldn’t get past was that it was broadening the number of people that would be taxed and the second was just the means of taking money out of the current budget and putting it into a separate budget fund that would result in a lower number next year. What he wanted to hear was why this was happening. What he basically heard tonight was fair and equitable repeated again and again to match usage with costs. The one thing that he couldn’t get past was the matching principal. Property tax isn’t matching; people who have enormous wealth live in small houses on small pieces of property and pay small property amounts. People stretch themselves to the limit to live in very large houses and pay very large property taxes. So wealth doesn’t correspond to property taxes. This matching principal really doesn’t do it either. There are poor families who live on small properties who may not be paying much in property taxes but who in fact may have a large family in a small house who use a lot of water. Mayor Schmidt stated that it is based on usage and not on wealth.
Paul Rolnick – Believes at the hearing back in May the thrust of the presentation was very much about the additional revenues to be collected rather than the fair and equitable. Mayor Schmidt stated that it was not the compelling motivation. Mr. Rolnick stated that you have the complete right to bring this forward but it is important for the public to know that part was much more important last May. There was a question from the floor on whether the sewer rent law could cover expenses related to drinking water and it can’t. This question is for Trustee Steinberg with respect to the article in the North Country News that you were quoted in which you said exactly that. Further, there were a few letters written after that from people using that same point and they said one of the reasons we want to support this sewer rent is because it can help pay for brown water mitigation and that is really incorrect. Trustee Steinberg stated he explained to Adam Stone the idea that when you have major infrastructure projects similar to the Harmon Water Project one way to help finance those types of projects, in this case projects that would relate to the sanitary sewer system, is using the excess monies that can be collected through sewer rent. He looked at the Harmon Water Project as a prime example of what a massive undertaking of an infrastructure improvement can cost the village. Paul Rolnick stated that brown water is something that everyone cares about and understands and he doesn’t blame people for misunderstanding. Why didn’t you correct those statements? Trustee Steinberg stated that no one came to him and said that they thought he made a misrepresentative statement and he did not see these letters. Trustee Brennan stated that he got on board with this rent that this is good government to plan for the future. The water system is old and it is good government to work out all the bugs to plan for the future.
Joanne Minett – Doesn’t have a sidewalk but is very happy to pay for them since she uses them. When she first moved to Croton eight years ago, she remembers how hard it was to walk around the village with a carriage on those sidewalks. It has been a tremendous improvement to our village and infrastructure. It looks great and is convenient for women with strollers; plus people walk safely. It does turn out to be a little bit of money, but for all the amount of high end users who are busting those pipes open, and the amount of years they were neglected, I think looking at the future is a good thing because whether a large or small end user we will all benefit. This is the way that you take care of the place you live and these things need to be addressed. So whether it’s a matter of a church or a homeowner paying it boils down to one thing that everybody uses it and that it needs to be fixed. As far as open government, you have been very open.
Pat Barua – Can we have a sewer fund in any other way except by having sewer rents? Could you take part of the general tax money and say we are setting up a special fund for sewer repair? Trustee Zambrano stated that he doesn’t believe so but can check with the State Comptroller’s office but believes that a fund needs to have revenues coming into it directly for the source. Trustee Kane asked about a benefit assessment instead of a sewer rent. Village Manager Herbek responded that yes that you could set it up on a basis of assessed valuation. In the staff’s analysis, they felt that the water usage was the fair way to set it up. The State calls it Sewer Rent and we are trying to parallel what is in the State law. State law provides for establishing sewer rent and doesn’t provide for calling it something else.
Mayor Schmidt closed the public hearing and stated that they will accept written comments up until Wednesday, October 19th. Wanted to clarify that there has been a misrepresentation that this is just a convenient way to lower the tax rate. We were successful in lowering the tax rate without this in place and we will continue to look for ways to lower the tax rate even if this doesn’t pass. The administration has committed itself to looking at our budget and keeping the tax rates low.
Village Manager Herbek read the following correspondence (full text available at the Village Office):
a.~~~~~~Letter from Marc Duncan, Recreation Supervisor, re: request to hold 2005 annual goblin walk on October 29, 2005. A resolution to allow them to use Old Post Road and Grand Street was approved by Trustee Steinberg and seconded by Trustee Brennan with unanimously approval.
b.~~~~~~Letter from Patrick Calcutti, Croton Central Veteran’s Committee, re: Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Ceremony on December 7th
c.~~~~~~Community Blood Program to be held on Sunday, December 4, 2005 at CET from 9:00 to 3:00
d.~~~~~~Letter from Robert McCrillis, President, Saw Mill River Audubon, re: Ceremony to celebrate the installation of interpretive signs at Brinton Brook Sanctuary on November 5, 2005 at 2 pm ~
e.~~~~~~Letter from Jerry Mulligan, Commissioner, Westchester County Department of Planning, re: Recognition of Westchester County’s Greenway Compact Communities
6.~~~~~~CITIZEN PARTICIPATION – AGENDA ITEMS
Marshall Goldberg, 11 Alexander Lane –Has read the handout that the Senator gave him and listened to his words and thought it was fascinating on what he didn’t say. What he did say is all very positive about the Amendment but if you actually read it you might understand why so many editorials in newspapers around NY State are not in favor of this. The single biggest thing that he didn’t say was that if a budget should not be passed by its required date there will be a contingency budget and once the contingency budget goes into effect the Governor is cut out of the equation completely. If there are any further changes to the budget after the budget date, the Legislature alone can make them. The Governor no longer has any input into the budget. That only provides the rationale for the Legislature to never do a budget before the date that it’s due since that dilutes their power. If you cut the Governor out, you create a situation of imbalance. It also suggests that it creates a fiscal stabilization reserve fund to provide adequate funding for school aid payments. The fund is already in existence and it doesn’t create the fund it adds to the fund. Would advise everyone to get on the net, read the Constitutional Amendment and vote.
Paul Rolnick, 1 Alexander Lane – Wanted to respectfully disagree with the Mayor’s statement that the Sewer Rent Law initiative last May was not intended to move money out of and to reduce the General Fund. After the hearing was tabled, the board went back and reworked the budget and made cuts, which amounted to about the same amount of money. Mayor Schmidt respectivefully disagreed and stated that he set a goal to what the budget was going to come in at and that is where he met the goal regardless of whether that was passed and that is what he did. You can ask anybody that was at this table; that is what they successfully accomplished. There were many other things that were presented to them at that time to increase and decrease revenue. Mr.Rolnick agreed on that but stated that if the sewer rent had passed and you were able to move that money from the budget that the other cuts would not have been made. Trustee Steinberg stated absolutely not. Trustee Brennan stated that this community needed some fiscal restraint and this administration did that regardless of whether we had that sewer amendment or not. What made us go for those reductions were good government for people that needed financial relief on their tax bills.
a.~~~~~Authorizing the Fire Department to accept the award from the US Department of Homeland Security for $60,000 for an Operations and Safety Program.
On motion of Trustee Brennan, seconded by Trustee Kane, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, the Croton Volunteer Fire Department has received a grant from the US Dept of Homeland Securities; and
WHEREAS, this grant award is in the amount of $57,000 and will be used to purchase self contained breathing apparatuses equipped with CBRN filters and
WHEREAS, the department currently has approximately 26 SBCA units that need to be replaced due to the age of the equipment,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Board of Trustees hereby authorizes the acceptance of this grant award from the US Department of Homeland Securities.
Discussion – Trustee Brennan thanked Assistant Chief Diggs and Chief Vlad.
b. Authorizing the Village Manager to sign the Service Fee Agreement with Penflex for $2,700
On motion of Trustee Steinberg, seconded by Trustee Kane the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, the Volunteer Fire Department Service Award Program was approved by referendum in 2003; and
WHEREAS, Penflex, Inc. provides actuarial and administrative services necessary to administer this program; and
WHEREAS, the Village has received the annual Service Fee Agreement from Penflex for the period November 1, 2005 through October 31, 2006,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Manager is hereby authorized to sign the 2005/2006 Service Fee Agreement in the estimated amount of $2,700,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that this amount be charged to account #3410.800
c.~~~~~~Authorizing the Village Manager to sign the agreement with the New York State Dept. of Transportation for snow and ice removal
On motion of Trustee Kane, seconded by Trustee Brennan, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, The Village’s agreement with the NYS DOT for snow & ice removal is due to expire June 30, 2007; and
WHEREAS, NYS Dept of Transportation has prepared an extension of the agreement for one year which will expire June 30, 2008; and
WHEREAS, the indexed lump sum estimated expenditure shall be $1,180 per lane mile for 11.24 lane miles for a total of $13,263.20 for the 2005/2006 and for the remainder of the term of the agreement unless changed by future amendments,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Manager is hereby authorized to sign the agreement with the New York State Department of Transportation for snow and ice removal expiring in 2008.
8. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION – NON-AGENDA ITEMS
Bruce Kauderer, 6 Georgia Lane – Wanted to express some thoughts on the Waste Transfer Station. He first congratulation all the people, both on and off the board, who worked very hard in winning a very important victory with the Court of Appeals that set an important precedent for the rest of the municipalities in New York. Unfortunately, he feels that this has a very short life. Under the current situation, it is a lose /lose for the village since we do not have any real good way out. If we lose the argument that they have the right as a railroad to run a waste transfer situation, that is a complete disaster and we could not regulate what they did. If we lose the argument that they do not need a special permit, this means that we could not regulate what they did. The other possibility is that we fight these battles, we win these battles, which will take years of litigation and will at least cost us $2M or more, and there is no guarantee that we will win. The operators are not in a good situation either; have a very large investment and revenue stream to protect; a lot of uncertainty in their minds; have to spend the same $2 million that we do. He is a real estate attorney for 30 years; this situation cries out for a settlement. The uncertainty, the risk to both sides. The potential benefits to both sides far outweigh the possibility of having the courts make this decision for us. There was a proposed settlement before and he was not in favor of it since it was not a good enough deal for the Village and we did not have as much to lose as we do now. If we lose now, we have no way to protect ourselves. Would like to propose the following settlement; we should receive a large sum upfront of a half a million dollars to defray our legal expenses; they should pay for a monitor that would be there everyday on the job that will ensure that the conditions of the permit would be met; we would extend the permit for three years. The only thing that we should ask them in terms of the existing litigation is that they acknowledge that they don’t have a right to further extend at the end of those three years; they should not have to waive any other rights that they have in terms of bringing on these other cases again since they wouldn’t do it; should pay us for tonnage fees about $1 million a year. There is going to be a very small vocal minority who would say not to settle under any circumstances and that attitude is a big mistake. These people are underestimating the harm that can come to the Village if we lose and are overestimating the harm to the Village under a settlement that would regulate the operation of this company. If you have a monitored situation where somebody is looking to see exactly what comes in, making sure there are no violations of tonnage and hours of operations we are going to have a situation that is not dangerous to the village since they wouldn’t be able to take in hazardous material. It will create a new important revenue stream for the Village that would keep our taxes down. Otherwise, as we fight this battle the taxes will go up; we can create a win/win situation out of this. The operator will have a very strong incentive to operate properly so at the end of the three-year term we would renew that permit. Would like to close if it wasn’t for all the publicity most of us in the Village would not know that the transfer station is even there. Would urge the board to make a settlement.
Mayor Schmidt stated that we are looking at all our options and working through advice of Counsel.
Mel Howard -- The village compliance officer did his job last year and he received a notice on not sholving his sidewalk. The fine was $500 a day and he asked the Village Board to reconsider the fine structure since it is a bit onerous. Mayor Schmidt stated that it was $500 maximum. On the weekend and holiday permit parking at the train station wanted to see if you could extend it to include weekly evenings from 7:30 until ½ after the last train arrives.
Georgiana Grant – She had to pay a $700 water bill because she had a leak which she didn’t know about. When another senior citizens gets a leak and the bill is large, you should consider that when you are considering all the other things that were raised tonight. Also stated that she doesn’t support Bruce Kauderer comments but knows that they will consider them.
Nancy Tejada-Ward, the County legislator candidate for District 9 which includes Cortlandt and Croton-on-Hudson. Announced that there will be a Legal Women Voters’ debate on the October 19th at Caputo Community Center in Ossining and October 25th at Village Hall in the Town of Cortlandt.
Dan O’Connor – Will be shutting off the water in Harmon tomorrow and Wednesday; notices have gone out. They are doing the interconnection at Oneida and Cleveland midday for less than 4 hours. It may be a little brown when they turn the water back on so refrain from doing any white laundry until Friday or Saturday.
Mark Aarons -- Parking lot by the train station flooded again. He heard from a number of people whose cars where fairly destroyed by water actually getting as high as the handle on the door. We need to do a little bit better in terms of marking off those areas that are subject to flooding so we can help the residents.
9. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Trustee Kane made a motion to approve the minutes of the Regular Board Meeting held on October 4, 2005 as corrected. Trustee Brennan seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimous approval.
Trustee Kane reported that the Open House at Harmon Shop was another success. The daffodil planting will take place this Saturday at Old Post Road South at 9:00 a.m.
Trustee Brennan reported that they had the first Community Center Meeting which went very well. They had six or seven appointees who showed up and it was very informative;
they are looking forward to moving ahead. Croton Harmon High School football is struggling a little bit but keep the faith they are trying to do the best they can.
Mayor Schmidt announced that on Sunday, October 23rd the 100-year celebration of the Croton Dam will be held at 1:00 p.m. at the Croton Dam Plaza and in case of rain will be at the Library.
Mayor Schmidt stated that they would be adjourning to meet with Village Attorney for advice of counsel.
Trustee Steinberg made a motion to adjourn. Trustee Brennan seconded the motion; approved unanimously. The meeting was adjourned at 10:20 p.m.
Marla Pardee, Secretary