The Village Board of Trustees met on April 8, 2009 at 7:30pm.
Trustee Shaw was absent.
During his mayoral report, Mayor Stebbins reported that Take-A-Break held it’s grand re-opening on April 5. New menu items include pizza, with the option of home delivery.
The Board has received some reports regarding problems with unleashed dogs running crazy around the Wee Wah, relieving themselves on private property and in some cases intimidating residents. Dog owners are reminded to be vigilant and responsible when allowing their dogs to run free in the Village.
Mayor Stebbins has asked the Police Dept to consider updating their emergency contact information. This is a safety measure and residents are asked to please cooperate.
Recent use of ATV bikes on the Racetrack has caused some damage to this area. Residents are asked to please report ATV activity in this area to the police.
Over 100 false burglar and fire alarm calls were reported in 2008. These calls put an unwarranted strain and expense on the Fire Department, Ambulance Corps and Village Police Department as all three respond to each call. Moving forward, multiple offenders will be subjected to a fine.
Summer is coming quickly and the Mayor reminded boat owners who have been storing their boats outside the Village for the winter months that all boats entering the Village must either be steam cleaned at the sewer plant or have proof of steam cleaning provided for them. Steam Cleaning at the sewer plant is done on weekdays between 1 and 3pm. Please call for an appointment.
Finally, the Mayor reminded residents that with the spring comes the re-emergence of black bears. Residents are once again encouraged to secure their trash and bring in bird feeders.
Deputy Mayor Report:
Deputy Mayor Jim Hays reported that the Town Planning Board might make their final decision regarding Tuxedo Reserve’s revised Special Permit at their next meeting on Tuesday, April 14. Because the plan calls for several homes to be built within the Village watershed, Village Attorney Rick Golden was asked to determine whether or not the Village has any legal say as to what is built within the watershed. Unfortunately, they do not. Therefore, Deputy Mayor Hays is recommending that the Village write a letter to the Town requesting that Village engineers have input into those houses built within the watershed. The Board was supportive of this idea.
Police Chief Ken Sanford reported the following for the month of March:
Criminal Complaints – 0
Non-criminal Complaints – 39
Property Damage Complaints – 3
Speeding Tickets – 1
Medical Calls – 3
Fire Alarms – 2 (false)
Burglar Alarms – 1 (False)
Assists Given to the Town Police – 1
Assists Received from the Town Police – 0
Additionally, 8,161 non-tagged vehicles entered the Village through the Front Gate.
On behalf of the DPW, Superintendent Voss reported that he and Village Engineer Rich Messer had completed a survey of all the major bridges and culverts in the Village the week before. While most are in decent condition, the bridge going over the Warwick Brook at the north end of the Wee Wah Lake is in need of Major repair. Mr. Messer will prepare a report for the Board detailing the situation and recommending a course of action. Mayor Stebbins inquired as to whether or not the repairs would be costly and Mr. Messer responded that to fix the bridge outright would be very expensive, however it might be possible to put a “band-aid” on situation. He plans to fully investigate this possibility when preparing his report.
Superintendent Voss then inquired of the Mayor as to when the DPW should plan to put the stop logs back in the Wee Wah Dam. The Mayor responded that two can be installed immediately and the other 2 should be installed in a few weeks.
The Board voted unanimously in favor of opening a BID for a surplus DPW truck. Two Bids have been received, and the Board promptly awarded the BID to highest bidder. (Roughly $5000)
Finally, Superintendent Voss reminded everyone that hydrant flushing in the Village will begin on April 27.
There were no Advisory Committee reports given.
Public Hearing in the proposed tentative 2009-2010 FY Budget:
Mayor Stebbins began this portion of the meeting with a somewhat lengthy review of his Summary of Major Changes in the Modified Tentative Budget.
Following this review, the Public Hearing was opened. As there were no comments or questions from the public, the hearing was promptly closed. The Mayor then asked each of the Trustees for their questions and comments.
Trustee Hays noted that a previous version of the budget had included a new street sweeper and inquired as to why this item has been removed in the newest version.
The Mayor responded that he is hoping to negotiate splitting the cost of this machine with the Town and therefore will wait until he has spoken with them before budgeting in the expense.
Trustee Hansen commented that in his opinion the Mayor has done an excellent job with the budget, however he wondered if perhaps there was a way to better manage some of it by moving money from certain areas into a Capital Budget Fund (similar to what is done with water) to be used for infrastructure repairs. He went on to suggest that perhaps with some discipline the Board could substantially diminish their legal expenses. He further suggested that $75,000 could be taken from legal and $25,000 from the Contingency Fund and that these funds could then be allocated to the aforementioned Capital Budget Fund.
Mayor Stebbins responded that in his opinion the Board should move forward with the proposed tentative budget as it stands because if the modifications suggested by Trustee Hanson were to be made, some of the numbers would be exceeded and surplus funds would then be needed for the balance. These are bad economic times, and the Mayor argued that the Village needs its surplus funds in order to keep tax rates low until the economy improves. He suggested that the Board make an agreement to establish a Capital Fund one year from now.
Trustee Hansen responded that under the current proposed budget, tax rates are only increasing by roughly 3.5% because of the surplus. Without the surplus, the Village would be forced to raise taxes a whopping 9.6%. He suggested that currently there appears to be a little room in a few line items in the proposed budget and reiterated his point that because the Village is facing a great deal of expense in the form of major infrastructure repairs that it might make sense to take some of this money and set it aside now. Once again, he commented that the majority of this money could be taken from legal.
Trustee Hays expressed support for this idea.
The Mayor commented that while Trustee Hansen’s idea was a good one, he felt that he had “whittled down” the budget as much as possible and that “taking another swipe at it” would be detrimental.
From the audience, JoAnn Hanson suggested that at the end of the year, surplus funds could be swept into a capital fund, thus achieving Trustee Hansen’s goal without having to change what is currently being proposed.
Mayor Stebbins reiterated that in his opinion the Village would be risking having to spend more surplus if line items are reduced. He once again suggested waiting a year before establishing a Capital Fund.
Trustee Hansen countered that once the surplus runs out, Village taxes will go up and that while there are still surplus funds and taxes are low, relatively speaking, money should be set aside for infrastructure.
Following this discussion, the Board voted unanimously in favor of approving the proposed tentative budget.
The Mayor then made a motion to authorize borrowing $590,000 under bonding authority for infrastructure repairs. The Board voted 3-1 in favor of this with Trustee Hanson abstaining.
There were no public comments
Public Hearing on Local Law Introductory #5:
The Public Hearing for Local Law Introductory #5 was opened.
The Board held a lengthy discussion on this largely technical legislation, the purpose of which is to clarify and liberalize current language in the Village Zoning Code as it pertains to nonconforming uses, non-complying buildings and substandard lots.
A copy of the proposed legislation can be viewed here.
Trustee Hansen expressed a great deal of concern over the fact that he had only recently received a copy of the proposed legislation and as a result was largely uninformed. He commented that in his opinion the Board of Trustees should be the ones to direct legislature and not the Board of Zoning appeals, especially when it comes to major changes in the Village Zoning Code.
The Mayor responded that the BZA had been the ones to initiate the legislation as they are frequently called upon interpret the code and have found it to be confusing to apply in some cases particularly as it applies to applicants who are seeking to increase the degree of a protected non-conformity. Additionally, they feel that the distinction among nonconforming uses, non-complying buildings and substandard lots is not well stated and needs clarification. He suggested that the Board table further discussion until their April 22 meeting, which would give the trustees ample time to review the proposed legislation and discuss any questions they might have with Attorney Rick Golden.
As there were no public comments, the hearing was adjourned until April 22.
Local Law Introductory #4:
The Board briefly reviewed a new version of Local Law Introductory #4 regarding “Clean Hands”. The proposed legislation mandates that individuals who owe anything to the Village or are in violation of any Village law cannot file a building permit or make any other request of the Village. A Public Hearing was set for April 22.
The Board discussed joining the National Flood Insurance Program. Currently, there are 6 properties, located at the south end of Tuxedo Lake, which lie in the flood plain. Attorney Rick Golden advised them that the Village is required by law to participate. Additionally, if they do not participate, the owners of those 6 properties will be unable to receive and federally back mortgages. They will also be unable to obtain flood insurance if the Village does not join. Finally, should a flood occur and the Village is not a member of the program, they will not eligible for emergency relief. There is no cost for joining. . The Board was in unanimous agreement that the Village should join the program and asked Rick Golden to expedite the paperwork so that they can move ahead at the April 22 meeting.
The Board unanimously approved the request for two new double haul fuel oil tanks for the water plant area.
A request for commercial not-for-profit filming in two residences in the Village was approved. A Japanese TV station is putting together a documentary on American Technology in WWII and will be focusing on Alfred Lee Loomis for a portion of the film. Filming will take place in both Mr. Loomis’s old home as well as his laboratory. The approval was conditional upon the agreement that filming would last no more than 8 hours in duration and would intrude on Village residents in any way.
Finally, The Board briefly discussed the parcel of land on Eagle Mountain Road, which has been offered to the Village as parkland. There was some difference in opinion as to how the Village will accept this land in terms of whether or not they want to allow for the addition of a park bench or pathway in the future. No determination was made.