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Town Board Minutes 10/19/2004
AT A BUIDGET AND REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 19TH DAY OF OCTOBER, 2004, AT THE NISKAYUNA TOWN OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT;

LIZ ORZEL KASPER, COUNCILWOMAN
WILLIAM R. CHAPMAN, COUNCILMAN
RICHARD A. HOLT, COUNCILMAN
DIANE P. O’DONNELL, COUNCILWOMAN
LUKE J. SMITH, SUPERVISOR

        Others present:  Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Amy Houlihan, Town Assessor; Lew Moskewitz, Police Lieut.; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller; Kathy Matern, Town Planner; Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways; Linda VanDyke, Town Historian; and Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer.

PUBLIC HEARINGS
PRELIMINARY BUDGET 2005
SPECIAL DISTRICTS BUDGET 2005
        
Supervisor Smith outlined the Town of Niskayuna Preliminary Budget for 2005.  Reviewing department budgets is a lengthy process with input from Department Heads and Committees.  He recognized the Comptroller, Paul Sebesta, who works very hard on the Town’s budgets and educates the Board where needed.  The Preliminary Budget reflects the following:
*3.7% tax increase; a tax rate of $3.16 per thousand for residential and 5.79% increase per thousand for commercial property.  
*General and Highway increased from $10,506,000 to $11,359 (an increase of $852,506).  
*Sewer & Water increased by $123,605.  
*Total Town Budget is $16,460,090.
        *Police salary increases per the arbitration award of 3.75% (an increase of $256,000).  
*Heath Benefits increased $172,650 – 16.5%.  Over the past several years the Town has changed benefits to new employees, and privatized our dental coverage.  In the last five years the cost of health insurance has doubled.   
*$83,000 increase in debt payments on the 2004 bonded equipment.  
*Hired two additional highway workers.  Over the past several years the Town has added a number of new highways and parks with no added staff.  The Highway Superintendent has done a great job (as has his employees) in maintaining the staffing levels, however, the Town needs to add two additional highway employees.  This is the first increase since about 1999 when two employees were laid off. They rehired two employees to bring it up to the pre 2000 levels.  
*$51,000 for additional highway equipment for the Highway Department.  Upgrading our equipment has helped the Town not need new employees.  For example, the 10-wheel dump trucks allow the Town to do snow removal better; and they also collect leaves which cuts down on the number of trips.  
*For the past 3 or 4 years the Town has replaced two or three police vehicles.  They would like to keep the patrol cars in a state where they are no older than 3 years.  Each runs up about 90,000 miles.  We have added a Ford Explorer because of the heavy snow fall within the past few years.  They have been using front-wheel drive vehicles which has helped, but the 4-wheel drive makes sense in this part of the country.  This will not be a patrol vehicle but only used primarily used during the winter season and during emergencies during the rest of the year.
*Grange Hall:  The Town has a unique opportunity to combine some needs of the Town by having the Eco House which is presently located in Aqueduct Park and is in ill repair. They may move into the Grange Hall and rehabing it.  It is at a good location.    
*$25,000 replacement of Transfer Station compactor.
*$22,000 for temporary labor for yard waste collection.  The Town has been using temp labor for the last two years and this has worked very well.  
*Justice Court Clerk. The Court feels it needs a full time person (rather than the current part time) for the Youth Court.  The Town Justices will also receive an increase in salary.   
*Increase in salary grade for Dispatchers – Consolidating this function within the County would save all the municipalities a significant amount of money.  The concept is being studied, but in the meantime the Town has had trouble hiring and holding Dispatchers because of the salary.  Upgrading the nine dispatchers will cost $7,000.
*$12,000 part time maintenance helper.  Town Hall and our other facilities are in need of maintenance and these small jobs were not getting done.  The Town has hired a part time retired person.  

*Police is the largest at 33%; 12% to Public Works (Planning, Building Department, Engineering); Parks and Recreation 10%; Highway 30% (plowing and reconstruction of highways);  the remainder is from Administration – Supervisor, Town Clerk, Receiver of Taxes, Comptroller.
*Personnel services 41.2%; Contractual Services 27.9%; Benefits 18.6%; Equipment and Capital Outlay 14.9%; Debt Payment 7.4%.  
A home assessed at $135,000 total tax bill would be $5,945 paid at Town Hall.  $3,442 School Tax  57.9% County $1,523 or 25.6%;
Fire $303 or 5.1%               Town $676

Historical View
1993                    2005
School $1997            $3442
County $937             $1523
Town $502               $676
Fire $179               $303

*Total Town Debt:  Aggressive schedule paying off debt down to $5.8 million.  The Town has had to make some purchases and borrowed such as two pole barns at the Highway Garage; 10-wheel trucks, and they are projecting that next year it will go up to $7.2 million – the legal bond limit is about $120 million.  
        *Retirement Expenses – The cost this year is the same as last year but since 1998 and now over $600,000 is paid into the pension system and is a significant portion of our appropriations.
        *Annual Health Costs – 1999 at $625,000 now $1,140,000.  This has increased 14-15% per year and doubles in five years.

        Linda Champagne VanDyke, 2421 Troy Road, Historian of the Town is pleased with the attention to the needs of the Grange which is the first school house of the Town.  It is on a historic colonial road of the Town, served as a school until the 1930’s then it became a Grange Hall.  She has talked to Senator Farley about getting aid for the building and he thought this was a positive project and would talk further.  She requested that budget funds be allocated for the Town’s 200th birthday in 2009.

        Lorraine Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, spoke in opposition of ECOS taking over the Grange Hall.  They have been a tough tenant after seeing what they did with Aqueduct House.  She also did not think the Grange would be sufficient to take care of their programs and parking.  There is no water and sewer and not much parking area.  
        She asked if there could be a dedicated fund for the next few years to save for a Community Center located on the Town-owned land adjacent to Town Hall.  The existing Community Center could be sold for condos.  She suggested a committee to study this idea.  The Town Hall bond will be paid off in 2012.  

        Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket Avenue, said that the Town spends money on DARE and the Youth Court.  She has not seen studies on the effectiveness of the Youth Court but has seen studies that the DARE program has not been encouraging.  She encouraged the Town to find any relevant studies and evaluate whether the DARE program should be continued or whether we should look for something more effective.         

        When no other members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the Public Hearing.

TOWN CLERK’S BUSINESS
        The minutes of the meetings of September 7, September 21, and October 5 were approved as presented.

PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR

        Mike Ambrosino, 63 Lori Drive, spoke about his concerns about a road through the Paulsen/Cerone development.   Considerable time was spent at the last Planning Board meeting concerning land owned by Hislop and how it could be protected from being land-locked.  The Town hired a consultant to examine the possibility of building a road into his property from the end closest to Lori Drive.  He questioned whether this was paid for by the taxpayers and if so, why.  As a resident he would have thought that a developer would have paid for this.  He felt his concerns were not given merit by the Planning Board as a whole.  Every resident with the exception of two, have gone on record in voice or petition asking that the connector road not be approved.  The Town Board now has an opportunity to give a clear message to residents by letting the Planning Board know that they will not accept this road.  
        
Richard Harris, 48 Dublin Drive, thanked the Highway Department employees who put in the new road on Dublin Drive who did an excellent job.  If the Grange Building is historical register eligible either state or national this would give it a significant leg up in being grant eligible.

   SPECIAL DISTRICTS
        The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise noted.

        Resolution 2004-280 accepts bids for a used 1996 Freightliner Dump Truck from Dutchess County Diesels, at a total cost not to exceed $38,000.

        Resolution 2004-281 calls for a public hearing November 16, 2004 at 7 p.m. regarding the establishment of a Drainage District No. 21 for Woodbdidge Estates.

GENERAL RESOLUTIONS
        Resolution 2004-282 amends the Town’s Official Map to eliminate a Planned Unit Development known as Indian Meadows.

        Resolution 2004-283 denies a request for approval to make a formal application by BH Group for a proposed Planned Unit Development on Consaul Road because it does not meet the intent of the Zoning Ordinance for the objectives of a Planned Unit Development.

        Resolution 2004-284 rescinds only that portion of Resolution 2004-228, dated August 10, 2004, pertaining to the current base proportions for the Town using the 2003 class rates, and authorizes the Assessor to recalculate the current base proportions using the 2004 class rates, and certifies that the current homestead and non-homestead base proportions, the current percentage and base percentages for the Town are made pursuant to Real Property Tax Law.

        Resolution 2004-285 certifies that the current homestead and non-homestead base proportions, current percentage and base percentage for the assessing unit and each portion included in its boundaries are made.

        Resolution 2004-286 accepts title to Woodfield Drive, together with a detention basin and three utility easements.

        Resolution 2004-287 employs additional persons and establishes the new title for Edith Cannizzo in the Recreation Department.

        Resolution 2004-288 adopts Local Law No. 20 (2004, that adds a Stop sign on Wemple Lane at the intersection of Antonia Park Drive.

        Resolution 2004-289 adopts Local Law No. 21 (2004 that adds a Stop sign on Banker Avenue at the intersection of North Ravine Road.

        There being no further business to come before the Town Board, the meeting was adjourned.
                                        

Helen F. Kopke, Town Clerk


 
One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
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