Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, NY was held on Monday, March 6, 2006 at the Municipal Building, Van Wyck Street, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520.
The following officials were present:
Mayor Schmidt Trustee Wiegman
Village Manager Herbek Trustee Brennan
Village Attorney Stecich Trustee Steinberg
Treasurer Zambrano Trustee Kane
1. CALL TO ORDER:
Mayor Schmidt called the meeting to order at 8:10 p.m.
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 Kane and approved unanimously.
General Fund $ 74,153.83
Water Fund 2,310.82
Capital Accounts 63,448.90
Trust & Agency 2,140.00
2a) Attorney Stecich gave a report regarding the hearing before Judge Nicolai: the Village’s position is that a transfer station cannot operate at 1A Croton Point Ave. even with a special permit; Judge Nikolai did indicate in his decision that any new company would need a special permit; NIR never came to the Village for a special permit and they thought did not need a special permit from the Village. Attorney Stecich stated that she brought an action in Supreme Court sought to restrain them from operating and a hearing was held last Friday; she asked for a permanent injunction and a temporary restraining order. She added that she and Attorney Steinmetz on behalf of NIR argued their positions; Judge Nicolai said that he would not issue a temporary restraining order, but he said they couldn’t open up until they get his decision; in effect, the judge issued a temporary restraining order until a decision is made and all papers are in; Greentree & NIR have not submitted any papers which are due by Wednesday; the judge’s decision should be made on March 14th; NIR cannot open in the meantime; it seemed like Judge Nicolai is disposed to rule that a special permit is required, but they already had the right to the special permit because the previous owner had the special permit. Village Attorney Stecich stated that she is not optimistic and is prepared to go to Appellate Division if necessary. She also has heard about concerns that a condemnation action could negatively affect the judge’s decision but doesn’t feel that it will.
3. PUBLIC HEARING:
Mayor Schmidt opened the Public Hearing to consider Local Law Introductory #2 of 2006, a local law to increase the income level for partial real estate tax exemptions for persons sixty-five years of age or older. Village Manager Herbek read the full text. He added that it has been published in the official Village newspaper and that he has received one letter of correspondence from Robert Scott, 33 Ridge Rd. which was read aloud.
a) Georgiana Grant, 37 Wells Ave., stated that she would support a recalculation to reimburse those who have overpaid. Trustee Kane replied that he had distributed a memo to the Board and has received an opinion from NYCOM stating that a refund of money is prohibited under the constitution as a gift of public monies. Village Manager Herbek added that the Village cannot make a gift of tax monies as a back payment; the other repayment referred to by Ms. Grant was an insurance issue and the Village Board has the ability to override the decision of the insurance company and Village Manager. Mayor Schmidt stated that he has asked Joe Sperber to track this and keep tabs on it. Village Manager Herbek added that the state does not pass this every year and does not notify municipalities directly; this will bring everything up to date and they will do their best to try to keep up to date the next time the State Legislature makes a change. Ms. Grant asked if the Village Treasurer would speak with the senior citizens and Croton Caring Committee to explain this. Trustee Brennan commented that he wants to see that seniors get every exemption they are entitled to; however, this is an optional benefit and gets spread out to the rest of the taxpayers of the Village.
With no further comments forthcoming, the Public Hearing was closed.
Trustee Brennan made a motion to approve Local Law Introductory No. 2 of the year 2006 as proposed; the motion was seconded by Trustee Kane and approved unanimously. Upon adoption the law became Local Law 3 of 2006.
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Local Law Filing 41 STATE STREET, ALBANY, NY 12231
Village of Croton-on-Hudson
Local Law No. 3 of the year 2006
A local law to increase the income level for partial real estate tax exemptions for persons sixty-five years of age or older.
Be it enacted by the Board of Trustees of the
Village of Croton-on-Hudson as follows:
Section 1. Section 204-16. Percent of exemption allowed.
TOTAL INCOME PERCENTAGE OF
TAX EXEMPTION ALLOWED
Up to and including $24,000.00 50%
$24,000.01 to $24,999.99 45%
$25,000.00 to $25,999.99 40%
$26,000.00 to$26,999.99 35%
$27,000.00 to $27,899.99 30%
$27,900.00 to $28,799.99 25%
$28,800.00 to $29,699.99 20%
$29,700.00 to $30,599.99 15%
$30,600.00 to $31,499.99 10%
$31,500.00 to $32,399.99 5%
Section 2. This local law shall take effect on January 1, 2007.
Village Manager Herbek read the following correspondence (full text available at the Village Office):
a) A letter from Fran Allen, Chair, Waterfront Advisory Council, supporting the Village’s intent to be the lead agency on the 1A Croton Point Avenue proposal.
CITIZEN PARTICIPATION-Agenda Items
No one spoke
a) The resolution authorizing the Village Manager to sign the consent agreement with Best Web was tabled with unanimous consent. Village Attorney Stecich stated that there were a few issues she needs to discuss with some people and asked to table the resolution until they are worked out. Village Attorney Stecich added that she checked with the Public Service Commission who verified that this is not done by franchise agreement as previously suggested; there is no urgency as the contract with the school district starts in September.
Trustee Wiegman stated that franchise agreements usually come with a small compensation and asked if that is one of the differences. Attorney Stecich replied that if the Village wants to charge, they can. Trustee Wiegman asked if it is proper for the Village to receive a compensation for the use of a public right-of-way. Village Manager Herbek replied that he cannot recall a similar situation. Trustee Steinberg asked Village Manager Herbek to check with other municipalities to see if there is a similar arrangement and what they charge.
b) 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, Michael Lourenso has been a police officer in the Village of Highland Falls and has successfully completed the New York City Police Academy and the Rockland County Police Academy; and
WHEREAS, the Village currently has one open position in the Police Department; and
WHEREAS, Lt. Anthony Tramaglini has conducted an extensive background check of Michael Lourenso and both he and Police Chief Dennis Coxen recommend the hiring of Mr. Lourenso;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: that Michael N. Lourenso of New Windsor, NY, is hereby appointed as a Police Officer at the salary of $42,473, effective March 7, 2006 in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Westchester County Department of Human Resources.
Discussion: this hiring of the police officer is to fill an open slot. Village Manager Herbek stated that this brings the complement up to 20; members of the Police Dept. would like to discuss during budget discussions, what the full complement should be.
c) On motion of Trustee Steinberg, seconded by Trustee Brennan, the following resolution was adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York with the following vote: Trustees Steinberg, Kane and Mayor Schmidt, “aye” Trustees Kane and Wiegman, “nay”.
WHEREAS, on February 21, 2006 the Village Board of Trustees approved the proposal from AKRF for environmental consultant services in connection with the proposed relocation of the Department of Public Works facilities to a site at 1A Croton Point Avenue; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Treasurer is authorized to amend the 2005-06 General Fund Budget as follows:
1. Increase 1940.400 by $50,000 (Purchase/Surveying of Land – contractual)
2. Decrease 1990.400 by $50,000 (Contingent Account)
Discussion: Trustee Wiegman asked Village Treasurer Zambrano what does this leave in contingency account. Treasurer Zambrano replied “$70,000.” Trustee Brennan asked how much was in the contingency account last year. Treasurer Zambrano replied that the Village had used almost all the $100,000. and that this is only the 2nd time this year they have gone into the account.
Trustee Kane proposed two resolutions:
1) Formation of a citizen’s committee to help with the eminent domain process; he is suggesting five residents with appropriate experience to serve on the committee.
2) Hiring a special counsel for second opinion on what the process might be and the method of appraisal that the state courts use to establish a value of a parcel. with extensive experience with NYS eminent domain law to give a 2nd opinion on what the process is and the methods of appraisal.
Attorney Stecich stated that she has spoken with a pre-eminent domain counsel, who represented NYC on a condemnation and has asked him to meet with the Board, but he had a conflict; she has gotten in touch with another eminent domain lawyer and was going to discuss this with the board.
Trustee Steinberg stated that all board members were unanimous in agreement of eminent domain about 3 or 4 weeks ago and he is taken back by these two proposed resolutions; it would have been appropriate to have been notified prior to bringing them up tonight; he will take the resolutions into consideration, but needs time to review and comment at a later date. Trustee Kane replied that he was in agreement with what they are doing, but is asking to hire a special counsel for a second opinion.
Mayor Schmidt ended the discussion and requested that the conversation continue after this meeting and under advice of counsel.
7. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION – NON-AGENDA ITEMS:
a) Bruce Kauderer, 6 Georgia Lane, stated that he feels there is a very grave risk in proceeding with condemnation before the evaluation question is decided; he feels it is critical for the financial future of Village; a simple, easy way to mitigate the risk is to have an appraiser appraise the land with an operating waste transfer station; it must be taken into account that the Village must purchase the business; it is wrong to condemn land without paying for the highest and best use and they don’t know what that would be; the Village has records showing that the business received 12 million dollars gross; the Village is spending $50,000 for an environmental study; he suggested going to a specialist in eminent domain and the Village should wait to get a decision if a waste transfer station can be operated there.
b) John Harbeson, 5 Valley Trail, stated that he is concerned about the potential consequences of eminent domain; if Mr. Kauderer is at all correct, the Village needs to do due diligence; he is not aware that the Board had given consideration to any alternatives; they have not shared their thinking with the public and it effects residents’ property values.
c) Bob Wintermeier, 43 Radnor Ave., stated that he thinks the Board is following the right procedure and has an excellent attorney and he is sure she has found good legal advice and will find more. He added that Mr. Kauderer made the comment that Allied Waste’s gross revenue is around 12 million and 3 million dollars in net profit; not too many businesses get 30% net profit, his guess is that it would be around 10% which would have a dramatic effect on any calculations; the Board should find out net profit, not gross profit. He added that people in the Village and the Board should be patient; go forward on the path they are on.
d) Maria Cudequest, 84 Grand St., stated that the worth of Allied is readily available in Village documents about amount of waste taken into the site and the profit made; it was made clear that eminent domain is an extremely cautious issue not to be entered into lightly; has utmost confidence that they will be cautious and when the evaluation is received, will inform the residents accordingly; she expects they will be given appropriate amount of information. Ms. Cudequest added that everyone should give Attorney Stecich a chance and have confidence in her ability; it is a matter of public health, safety and welfare.
e) Mr. Kauderer added that he was told that in 2004 that was the tonnage; he has never gotten
a response to the arguments or that he wrong. Attorney Stecich replied that she will give her opinion at the proper time; she is not working to put the Village at risk and thinks Mr. Kauderer is wrong.
Mayor Schmidt replied that there has been information from the Board; the first step is to get the appraisal; when the appraisal is received they will then decide whether or not to continue forward. Attorney Stecich stated that the appraisal will not be made public immediately, can give a range, but cannot make it public until you have their appraisal.
f) Georgiana Grant, 37 Wells Ave., suggested respectfully that Attorney Stecich may be a little uncomfortable with some of the facets. Trustee Steinberg stated that the Board is proceeding in a direction that is appropriate to get to what the appraised value will be. Ms. Grant added that she would like the Board to consider getting expert advice on eminent domain.
Mayor Schmidt stated that there is no better expert than Village Attorney Stecich; the second opinion is Michael Gerrard who has been in consultation with Attorney Stecich. Village Attorney Stecich stated that she calls other attorneys on complex issues to share thoughts, not necessarily for advice, but to share; she has spoken with an attorney and is seeking another to speak with the Board. Ms. Grant stated that it would raise her comfort level if a second attorney would speak with the entire Board; she asked what kind of appraisal was ordered, how did they chose the company and how much did it cost? Attorney Stecich replied that they looked at person who had most experience, narrowed it to two, she and Mike Gerrard spoke with them, Norman Benedict was hired and will do three approaches for the appraisal. Ms. Grant added that this was very helpful information.
8. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Trustee Brennan made a motion to approve the minutes of the Regular Board Meeting held on February 21, 2006 as corrected. Trustee Steinberg seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimous approval.
Village Manager Herbek -none
Treasurer Zambrano -none
Trustee Wiegman thanked Village Attorney Stecich for mentioning that she has had discussions with other attorneys; he believes that the point that Trustee Kane was trying to make is that they are in a process that is clearly quite complicated and has some uncertainties built into it; the Village does not know the risk factors and he was trying to ask why rush forward on all counts.
Trustee Kane thanked Village Attorney Stecich for her response this evening. He reminded the public that there will be a debate tomorrow sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
Trustee Steinberg reported that last week all board members were contacted by Karen Kelesch who is coordinating the Under the Stars dinner dance this year with the Education Foundation and she asked him to remind the public that they are putting together a silent auction; people can donate for this event, being held on June 3rd, by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Trustee Steinberg reported that Congresswomen Kelly will be submitting proposed legislation regarding the loophole that NIR used and she is optimistic that this will be passed by the end of the year; copies are available from Trustee Steinberg.
Trustee Brennan reported that the Community Center Committee will be meeting on March 14th with the Village Recreation Committee; seniors may be involved also; they will put out a survey to the Village by the end of the summer and they are making good progress. Trustee Brennan stated that he has total faith in Attorney Stecich’s ability; advice of counsel must be heeded; when information is received it will be coming forth back to the Village.
Attorney Stecich reported that she had read letters in the Gazette about not rushing the process of eminent domain; the Public Hearing was to determine if there was a public purpose for the property; that was not a determination to condemn the property; studies must be done; an appraiser has been hired with many years experience in environmental issues; when the appraisal comes in, the Village has to balance its need to the cost of meeting that need; the environmental studies have to be done before the Village can acquire the property. Attorney Stecich asked if the Board wants to have a scoping session which is not necessary, but can if they want to schedule one. She added that there is going to be lots of opportunity for public participation; everything is hypothetical right now. Trustee Wiegman stated that he would be in favor of a scoping session; in 1998, the Board took a site and restricted what it would be doing and the question is if a public works department there is an expansion of things on that site that are currently prohibited.
The scoping session was scheduled for April 3rd.
Mayor Schmidt stated that he would hope the public would give a little leeway; they are waiting for the appraisal which is the first step; they are doing due diligence; Village Attorney Stecich is doing a good job leading the Village forward from little things to big things; he hopes that in the future, anyone who comes to the podium does not speak ill of her or send any emails; she is a valued Village employees and deserves the respect due her.
Trustee Brennan made a motion to adjourn. Trustee Wiegman seconded the motion; approved unanimously. The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 p.m.
Phyllis A. Bradbury
Phyllis A. Bradbury, Secretary