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Town Board Minutes 10/24/06


        Others present:  Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller; Kathy Matern, Town Planner; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer; Lew Moskowitz, Chief of Police; Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways; Matthew Yetto, Jr. Engineer; and Bill Lawrence, Information Technology.


        Public Hearing No. 1 and 2 were held to receive public comment on the Preliminary Budget  and Special Districts Budget for the Town for fiscal year 2007.
        Supervisor Smith stated that based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 3.6%, it would seem that our 8.8% proposed tax increase is not justified.  However, the commodities that the Town uses, fuel oil, gasoline, electricity and health care costs, are increasing at a rate far above the 3.6% national inflation rate.  The Comptroller has suggested that the Town have a separate CPI for government commodities that we could compare ourselves against.  If you consider, however, that the actual dollar increase of expenditures in the 2007 budget amounts to 2.69% increase over 2006 expenditures it is clear we have held the line very well even when compared against the standard CPI of 3.6%. We have cut back one police officer position.. This was able to be done without cutting services because we have introduced computers into our patrol cars which will allow our officers to stay on the street and not spend time back in the Police Department doing reports.  They are confident they won’t be cutting police patrols by eliminating the one officer.  
        The Town eliminated one position in the Highway Department.  Two positions were added last year, however, only one of those will be filled.  We will redeploy Parks staff to help out and make sure we do not impact services.  Other adjustments were made through revenue and expenditures to limit the impact on taxpayers.  
        In comparison to other jurisdictions, some have done better and some have done worse. Colonie is up 29%, Rotterdam up 8.4%, Glenville started at 29% up and reduced it to 4% up.  Their significant reductions in police positions could account for a portion of this decrease but not all of it.
        Our Town’s lack of growth is an issue we faced this year and will be an issue in the coming years as we near build-out.  This year our growth in taxable value will yield only about $17,000 additional tax dollars over last year’s yield.  Since expenditures went up $294,000 in the General and Highway funds, the lack of growth is a real and significant issue.  We cannot continue to count on growth in our taxable value but rather look to economic growth that will generate sales tax revenue.  The County has been reporting robust economic growth and recently increased the sales tax by ½%.  He hoped that the County will allow the Town’s to share in this growth.  The Town’s provide the services that are needed for this growth (through the Planning Department, Building inspections; the whole developmental process and even Police services once the development is complete).  The demand on the Town’s police resources has greatly increased due to the revitalization of Mohawk Commons, yet we have not seen a corresponding increase in our share of the sales tax generated by this mall.  
        Finally, for a home valued at $135,000 the 8.8% tax increase amounts to $37.80.  
This is not a trivial amount, but given the services that resident's receive from the Town level of government – police, highway, recreation, building, planning and administration, the increase is not unreasonable.  
        The percent increase in expenditures from 2006 to 2007 for General and Highway is proposed to increase 2.51% or $294,000.  The Sewer & Water Department will increase $162,000, for a 3.9% increase, for overall increase of $456,000.  
        The major circumstances contributing to an increase in spending are contractual salary increases of approximately 3% for all Town employees.  Supervisor Smith stated that he felt this was a fair figure in view of the fact that inflation is rising at 3.6%.  The Highway paving budget will increase by 12.4%; health insurance increased by 7.2%; and the proposed budget shows an increase in fuel costs by 15%.
        Supervisor Smith pointed out the division of tax dollars for School, County, Town, and Fire District.  He showed the trend from 1999 to the present.  The Highway Department represents 39% of the Town budget.  Salaries for Highway constitute 42%, of their budget; materials are 35%. In the last few yeas, the cost of reconstructing one mile of road has gone from $125,000 to about $250,000.   Police and Justice represent 32% of the Town budget which is substantially labor costs.  Engineering, Building, and Planning is 15%, Parks & Recreation is 9%, and Administration of the Town is 5%.  
        Sewer District No. 1 is going up 2.8%.  The Waste Water Treatment Plant has had some major expenses.  We been dealing with the issue of inflow and infiltration to an aging infrastructure so costs have been rising the last several years;4.4% over the last ten year period.  
        The Water District shows a 4.5% increase this year, with a 2.1% over the last ten year period.  A 90,000 gallon water bill will go from $208.00 to $217.50 in 2007.  
        Town debt was graphically shown and the Town has done very well in aggressively keeping down its debt. The first payment for bonding the Town will do in 2007 will not show up until 2008.  Examples of bonding items are RFP’s being reviewed for a revaluation which will be in the range of $250,000 to $300,000; $400,000 of equipment will be needed for the Water & Sewer Department to redo our pipes in the ground; equipment to deal with drainage is needed to meet MS Storm Water Regulations that come from the Clean Water Act requiring substantial demands on local government to protect the local water ways.  Town Hall debt will be paid of in 2012.  

        11152006_33019_0.png, stated that from his experience on the Planning Board, Town Departments work hard with a minimal amount of resources.  Regarding the Town’s purchase of property, for several years the budget has shown a zero appropriation.  He requested that funds be added to the line item for the purchase of property.  He would like the Town prepared should a piece of property become available for parkland that would be advantageous for the Town to purchase.
        He noticed that Police fees were projected higher this year which is due to increased fees for alarms.
        11152006_33019_0.png, questioned why fluoride chemicals were listed under water purification when fluoride does not purify water and suggested it should be a separate budget line.   There have been studies that indicate that fluoride can be harmful to some people and that it can be obtained from other sources other than drinking water.  She feels this program medicates everybody whether they need it or want it.  She understands this system is expensive and breaks down fairly often.  
Councilman Chapman stated that the budget includes $8,500 as a start on the Safe Route maps that the Safe Routes Committee requested. Supervisor Smith suggested that lobbying our County legislators for a greater share of the sales tax would go a long way to helping this. The County contributed $100,000 towards paving the bike path in 2006.     

        There being no other members of the public who wished to be heard, Supervisor Smith closed the public hearing.

The minutes of the Regular Meeting of October 10, 2006 was approved as presented.

        There being no members of the public who wished to be heard, Supervisor Smith closed Privilege of the Floor.

        The following resolutions were approved with a vote of four ayes (Councilwoman Kasper was not present for the resolutions), unless otherwise noted.

        Resolution 2006-220 authorizes a repair to the generator at the Imperial Drive pump station from Cummins Northeast, at a cost not to exceed $5,500.

        Resolution 2006-221 authorizes advertising for bids for the purchase of chemicals to be used in the Town’s public works operations during 2007.

        Resolution 2006-222 authorizes advertising for bids for the installation of a new well for Consolidated Water District No. 1.

        Resolution 2006-223 calls for a public hearing, November 14, 2006, at 7:05 p.m. to consider the appropriation of $150,000 from the Reserve Fund for the improvements to the Capital Projects Fund for Consolidated Water District No. 1 to finance the cost of the drilling and installation of a new well, piping, wiring, and chemical feed

        Resolution 2096-224 calls for a public hearing November 14, 2006 at 7 p.m. to consider deleting the existing Chapter 180, entitled Soil Erosion and Sediment Control and to replace it with a new Soil Erosion Ordinance in accordance with the new rules and regulations from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

        Resolution 2006-225 authorizes the reimbursement of special district assessment monies previously paid in conjunction with the establishment of Extension No. 91 to Sewer District No. 6 to Joseph A. Salamone.

        Resolution 2006-226 makes line item budgetary modifications.

        Resolution 2006-227 authorizes advertisement for bids for the purchase of various materials to be used by the Town in its public works operations for 2007.

        Resolution 2006-228 authorizes the advertising for bids for labor, equipment, and materials to be used during the 2007 paving season.

        Resolution 2006-229 authorizes advertising for bids for the grinding, mulching, and disposal of yard waste.

        Resolution 2006-230 employs an additional person in the Recreation Program.

        At this time Supervisor Smith requested that the Board go into Executive Session to discuss a contract matter.

        With no further business to come before the Town Board, Supervisor Smith adjourned the meeting.

                                        Helen Kopke, Town Clerk


One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
Phone: (518) 386-4500 Fax: (518) 386-4592 | Hours: M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.