Village Board of Trustees Meeting April 16, 2008

The Village Board of Trustees met on April 16, 2008 at 7:30pm.

During his Mayoral report, Mayor Stebbins reported that a great deal of progress has taken place in the Village over the last month in a number of different areas. Based on comments from the public at the April 9 Public Hearing, the tentative budget for 2009 has been amended. In addition, both the Lake Law Revision Panel and the Viewshed Committee have submitted detailed reports and revised legislation for Board consideration. A new policy with regard to steam cleaning boats before they are allowed on the Village lakes has been implemented. Moving forward, all boats must show proof of steam cleaning before permits will be issued. Steam cleaning services will be available to residents at the Village Sewage Plant on weekdays from 9-12am. Appointments can be made through the Village office.

Stop logs have been reinstalled in the Wee Wah dam. Unfortunately, they are leaking and it appears as though water is sneaking around the ends of the boards. Engineers Westin and Sampson will be in the Village to further investigate the problem and propose solutions sometime in the coming week.

Deputy Mayor’s Report
Trustee Darby reported that the Village has reached a settlement in the Sterling Place Law suit. A detailed outline of the settlement can be viewed here.

Following a review of the outline, Mayor Stebbins reiterated that settling this suit was in the best interest of the Village for many reasons and that denying Sterling Place water would never have stopped this development from happening as they could have obtained water elsewhere.

With regard to the Budget, Trustee Darby reported that the Village continues to operate within budget although legal expenses continue to run very high as a direct result of litigation. Trustee Worthy inquired as to whether or not any of the litigation expenses were covered by Village insurance and was informed by Trustee Darby that they are not.

Police and DPW Reports
Acting DPW Superintendent Jeff Voss was not present.

Acting Police Chief Sanford reported the following for the month of March:
Non-Criminal Complaints – 49
Criminal Complaints – 3
Property Damage Complaints – 2
Speeding Tickets – 8
Speeding Warnings – 1
Fire Alarms – 1 (false)
Burglary Alarms – 1 (false)
Medical Calls – 2
In addition, the Village police assisted the Town of Tuxedo police 2 times and were assisted by the Town of Tuxedo police 1 time.

10,126 non-resident vehicles entered the front gate.

Sgt. Sanford went on to report that 2 arrests have been made with regard to the 2 recently reported burglaries in the Village. Some of the stolen property has been recovered and one of the culprits has been sent to jail pending prosecution. Sgt. Sanford continued on to praise officer Jim Ascione, who went out of his way to solve these cases. Resident Robin McFadden also offered praise and thanks for Officer Ascione, who she commented was extremely helpful and always available to discuss the case, regardless of time. When questioned as to the identity of the thief, Sgt. Sanford responded that he was not at liberty to identify the suspect, however he was able to report that the suspect is both a young person and a Village resident. Trustee Hansen then inquired as to whether or not the Village should institute a different policy when it comes to keeping residents informed of serious crimes within the Village. Specifically, he wanted to know if the community should be officially informed if another crime like this occurs and whether or not informing the community would impede police investigations. He suggested that having such a system in place might serve as a way to control the “rumor mill” and also be helpful to the public. Sgt. Sanford responded that decisions such as these need to be made on a case-by -case basis. Mayor Stebbins then suggested that the Board be notified of serious crimes when and if they occur and that decisions regarding public notification could be made in conjunction with the police. Sgt. Sanford commented that this was a good idea and suggested a meeting at a later date to discuss the issue. He went on to urge all residents to use good judgment in locking their doors when leaving their homes and not leaving car keys inside parked cars.

Advisory Committee Reports
On behalf of the Village Improvement Advisory Committee, Alan Heywood reported that the Committee is revising project estimates and will present the Board with new numbers in the near future.

Mayor Stebbins addressed the Wildlife Advisory Committee’s mission statement by asking the Board if they had any feedback with regard to the document. He commented that he had some reservations with regard to a questionnaire the committee is proposing to send to Village Residents and would like to be sure that the information collected from the questionnaire is productive for the Village before circulating it. Trustee Worthy commented that the statement was worded very well and that she does not foresee any issues with the proposed survey. On behalf of the Wildlife Committee Jim Burger commented that the Committee would like to circulate a questionnaire to residents annually so that they can gather community input before making recommendations to the Board. He went on to explain that they will be asking residents to provide their name and address as part of the questionnaire so they can determine if wildlife issues are specific to certain areas in the Village. Trustee Hansen suggested that the questionnaire be included in the next Mayor’s Letter. Mayor Stebbins responded that it might also be made available through the Village website. The Board accepted the Wildlife Advisory Committee’s mission statement.

Public Comments
During the Public Comment period, Lucy Edwards inquired about the Village recycling program, specifically whether or not the Board has received any feedback from Sterling Carting with regard to how residents recycle. She also inquired about the Tuxedo Club’s recycling, specifically whether or not Sterling Carting picks it up. Mayor Stebbins responded that Sterling Carting has complained that 1/3 of residents who recycle do not properly sort their recyclables. As a result, proper instructions have been repeatedly provided both on the Village website and the Mayor’s monthly newsletter along with continuous pleas for compliance. In addition, blue recycling bins are now being sold at the Village Office. He went on to comment that the Tuxedo Club uses their own garbage carrier separate from the Village. Mrs. Edwards suggested that selling recycling bins is not enough and that residents need to be constantly reminded and encouraged to keep up with recycling. She suggested posting notices at the front gate on a weekly basis to remind residents to recycle. Trustee Shaw commented that Sterling Carting has suggested the possibility of notifying residents who have not properly sorted their recyclables through the use of notes or message stickers.

Meg Vaught inquired as to whether there will be a Bulk garbage pick-up day and was informed that yes, there will be on May 10. Mrs. Vaught then inquired whether or not the Board might consider holding two, shorter monthly meetings as opposed to one long one. The Mayor responded that he would solicit the opinions of the Board members on this matter.

Former Police Chief Bill Bortnowsky complimented Sgt. Sanford and Jim Ascione on their hard work investigating the McFadden Robbery. He went on to commend the Board for their decision to hire two new full time police officers, commenting that this is the “proper thing to do”. Mr. Bortnowsky continued on to explain the importance of having officers who know Village residents and their families and cited several examples from his time of service where this personal knowledge of residents proved to be incredibly important in, one case, life saving. He observed that part time officers usually maintain other jobs and as a result do not have the invested interest in the community that full time officers do. He commented that it is crucial that the Village be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to law enforcement. Finally, he commented that he had been responsible for writing the schedule, which is currently included in the Police contract, and that in order for the schedule to work, 3 full time officers are needed.

Mr. Bortnowsky also commented that he was happy to see that the Village has invested in a proper police car rather than purchasing a used vehicle and converting it to a police car as has been done in the past. He suggested that the Village consider a training program for officers with regard to use of an SUV Vehicle in high-speed pursuits so as to avoid a situation similar to what happened in 1997 when Officer Conklin was killed.

Robin McFadden commented that there should be a notification system implemented to inform Village residents of serious crimes similar to the burglary her family suffered. David McFadden commented that since circulating his e-mail with regard to Village burglaries he has received nothing but grief from the Mayor as well as the website TPFYI. Specifically, Mr. McFadden commented that the Mayor’s use of the word “alleged” when referring to the robbery in his letter to residents was offensive and he demanded an apology. He went on to reference the March Board meeting, at which he asked the Board whether increased crime was a factor in their decision to hire new full time officers, and suggested that in his letter to residents Mayor Stebbins was attempting to use the robbery at his home to justify the Boards decision and to gain political support within the community. Mayor Stebbins responded that his letter to the community was intended to calm anxious residents by providing them with facts. He suggested that Mr. McFadden had seriously misinterpreted the letter and that he (the Mayor) has received several calls from residents thanking him for his efforts. He went on to comment that as he is not currently running for any political office, Mr. McFadden’s accusations are completely unfounded.

Prior to continuing the Public Hearing on the 2009 Tentative Operating Budget, Mayor Stebbins quickly outlined changes that had been made as a result of the April 9 public hearing. Most notably, $50,000 (to be paid over a two year period) has been allocated for a Lakes Management Study and more funding has been allotted to the DPW based on Richie Morrow’s concerns about potential water main issues in the Hamlet. Following these brief remarks, the Public Hearing was reopened. As there were no comments from the public, it was promptly closed. The trustees then embarked on a lengthy budget discussion. Trustee Hansen expressed his concerns with regard to infrastructure expenses. Specifically, Trustee Hansen commented that the tentative Capital Expenditures Budget proposes borrowing roughly 3 million dollars to be paid back at an annual rate of $250,000 per year, however, nowhere in the Tentative Operating Budget for 2009 has the Village provided any money for these expenses. He expressed concern that if the Village is unable to fit these expenses into the budget now, fitting the $250,000 in moving forward will be difficult. He suggested that the Village deal with infrastructure repairs on a project-by-project basis and avoid taxing Village residents with debt service. He referenced the $200,000 budgeted for infrastructure in 2008 and commented that much of these monies remain unspent. Finally, he suggested that the Village pay for as much of the repairs as possible up front so as to avoid incurring debt interest and borrow additional funds as needed.

Trustee Shaw commented that she shares the same concerns as Trustee Hansen.

Trustee Darby commented that the burden of capital projects flows forward in time, and therefore the future tax burden should be allocated to taxpayers who retain the benefits of the repaired services. He went on to explain that he and Mayor Stebbins had worked closely with Village accountant Jeff Freaga as well as other financial advisors and it was their mutual recommendation that the $250,000 not be included in the Operating Budget until funds have been borrowed and debt has been incurred.

Mayor Stebbins agreed with Trustee Darby and commented that much of the unspent money allocated for infrastructure in 2008 will be used to pay for engineering studies completed on the Wee Wah dam.

Next, Trustee Hansen commented that, in his opinion, Village legal expenses could have been managed better and are currently “absurdly high”. He went on to say that with regard to the Tuxedo Lake Dam litigation the DEC is probably going to be victorious and he suggested that the Board determine how much money they are willing to spend on mitigation moving forward.

Trustee Darby responded that this matter would be addressed during Executive Session.

Trustee Hansen then turned to the issue of surplus, specifically the $175,000 appropriated surplus as well as the reduction in reserves of $150,000.

Mayor Stebbins responded that because the Village faces many uncertainties with regard to infrastructure repairs as well as the burden of debt service, the appropriated surplus has been increased. With regard to the $150,000 reduction in the reserves, Mayor Stebbins explained that the Village has been running a surplus equal to roughly 30% of the Operating Budget and that this percentage is too high. He commented that rather than focusing on surplus amounts, it is important to focus on Village cash intake. In recent months the Village has collected roughly $88,000 in cash stemming from previously unpaid debts such as unpaid professional fees, delinquent water accounts and rent on the Garage space.

The Board voted in favor of the General fund 4-1 with Trustee Hansen casting the opposing vote.

The Board voted unanimously in favor of the Water Fund.

Borrowing Resolutions in Support of the Capital Budget
Next, Trustee Darby presented several borrowing resolutions in support of the Capital Budget.
Class A Buildings (Sewer Plant/DPW) $135,000
Class B Buildings (Police Station) $50,000
Water Plant - $1,400,000
Reconstruction of Roads, Highways, Streets and Parking Areas $200,000
Sewer System - $550,000
Dams - $875,000
Street Lighting - $100,000

The purpose of these resolutions is to enable the Village to borrow the funds needed for the major infrastructure repairs delegated to the Capital Budget. Trustee Darby reiterated that passing these resolutions in no way commits the Village to borrowing the funds.

Trustee Shaw commented that she felt it would be precipitous to pass all the resolutions in one evening. She suggested a special Board of Trustees meeting so the Board could have the opportunity to discuss and carefully prioritize the infrastructure issues. She further commented that she feels it would be prudent to have more concrete figures, which are based on factual information as well as project estimates before moving forward with the resolutions and stated that she was uncomfortable voting on the resolutions before this information has been obtained. She suggested that the completion of the GIS Mapping System would be very helpful in helping the Village to obtain more concrete information and that the Board should not act hastily with regard to the resolutions. She went on to comment that she feels the Village has collected enough detailed information with regard to the Village Dams to vote on that resolution. She expressed concern that should the Board approve the resolutions and then the guestimate figures prove to be incorrect that the resolutions would need to be amended at the expense of the Village.

Trustee Darby responded that passing the resolutions now does not commit the Village to borrowing the funds; it merely enables them to borrow funds once they are ready to do so.

Mayor Stebbins stated that passing the resolutions is the first step in a long process. He commented that Trustee Shaw’s suggestion of a special meeting was a good one and that the next steps in the process will be setting clear priorities and gathering the detailed information that Trustee Shaw referred to. He went on to say that while the figures were based on educated guestimates, it is a fact that each of the major infrastructure projects will need a significant amount of funding and passing the resolutions will enable the Village get started quickly once they are ready to move forward.

Trustee Shaw then commented that the allotted amount of $200,000 for Capital Improvements to the Village roads is too low.

Trusty Worthy stated that she supports the resolutions, however she is in agreement with Trustee Shaw regarding the amount allotted for Village Roads. As the Trustee Liason to the Village Improvement Advisory Committee, she stated that she has spent some time looking into the issue of the Village Roads, specifically the impending collapse of Tuxedo Road into the Race Track. She went on to comment that while $200,000 might be enough funding to get the a road restoration project underway, more funding will be necessary to complete repairs. She suggested adding an additional $200,000 to this resolution.

Trustee Hanson commented that he would like to see the Trustees more clearly prioritize the projects and collect more detailed information about each before voting to incur Village debt.

The Board voted in favor of the Bond Resolutions 4-1 with Trustee Hansen casting the opposing vote.

Watershed/Lakes Management
On behalf of the Environmental Advisory Committee, Trustee Shaw read the committees recommended next steps, which include engaging the firm of Princeton Hydro as an environmental consultant to conduct a lake/watershed assessment and create the Lake Management Plan, to the Board.

The Board voted unanimously in favor of entering into a contract with Princeton Hydro.

Viewshed Legislation - Gateway Overlay District
On Behalf of the Viewshed Committee, Gary Glynn presented changes to the proposed Gateway Overlay District legislation. Some of these changes include an enlarged buffer zone (from 100 to 150 ft), slight alterations to landscaping details, language changes with regard to driveways, language changes with regard to building materials and the explicit grandfathering of existing structures with the exception of driveways. Mr Glynn reported that the Committee had received supportive feedback from both the Planning Board and the BAR.

A Public Hearing for the Gateway Overlay District legislation will be held on May 8 at 7:30pm. The proposed legislation is on file in the Village office.

Lake Law Revision Report

A Public Hearing for the Lake Law Revision Panel's suggested revision to Chapter 65 (Lakes and Ponds) of the Village Code was scheduled for May 8 at 7:30pm. A copy of the panel's report and the proposed local law is available at the Village office or can be viewed by clicking here.

Village Boat Club Proposal
On Behalf of the Village Boat Club, Club President Greg Libby presented plans for proposed dock expansion. Mr. Libby commented that as a result of comments received at a previous Public Hearing,, the Club has altered their plans based on community feedback as well as future needs. The new plan, consisting of 3 docks, has been moved slightly to the south so as to have less visual impact on neighboring properties. It is exactly the same as the plan put forward by the Tuxedo Club, with the exception of size (The Boat Club is seeking 3 docks while the Tuxedo Club is seeking 4 Docks)

Mayor Stebbins inquired about funding for the project and Mr. Libby responded that the Club will fund the docks and the construction of the site, however they will need the assistance of the Village DPW for the construction of a granite wall as they do not feel it would be appropriate to bring in an outside contractor to work along the waters’ edge. A copy of the proposal is on file in the Village office.

In the meantime, the Board advised Mr. Libby to bring the project before the Architectural Review Board as soon as possible as the project will need that Board’s approval in order to proceed.

The Board voted unanimously in favor of allowing the Tuxedo Joint Fire District to hold their Bi-annual picnic at the Wee Wah beach club on August 9, 2008 with a rain date of August 10, 2008.

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