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Town Board Minutes 10/23/2007
AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 23RD OF OCTOBER, 2007, AT THE NISKAYUNA TOWN BOARD ROOM, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT;

LIZ ORZEL KASPER, COUNCILWOMAN
WILLIAM R. CHAPMAN, COUNCILMAN
MARIE P. FREUND, COUNCILWOMAN
DIANE P. O’DONNELL, COUNCILWOMAN
LUKE J. SMITH, SUPERVISOR

        Others present:  Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller; Marion Rhodes, Receiver of Taxes; Kathleen Gansfuss, Director of Recreation; Lew Moskowitz, Chief of Police; Bill Lawrence, Manager of Information Technology; Amy Houlihan, Assessor.

PUBLIC HEARING
        A Public Hearing was held regarding the Preliminary Budget and the Special Districts Budget for the Town for 2008.  
        Supervisor Smith stated that the budget was developed with significant time and effort by the Town Board and Town employees, most notably, Paul Sebesta the Town Comptroller.  The starting for the Board is the Supervisor’s Tentative Budget or first draft.  This starts with the Department Heads submitting their proposals and what they feel the Town needs to move forward in a responsible fashion.  He noted that the Department Heads wish list started with a 40% increase, then it became the responsibility of the Supervisor’s Office and then the Town Board to pare that down into a budget that is reasonable and responsible.  
        The Board spent approximately 14 hours in meetings going line by line.  In addition each Board member spent additional time reviewing the Tentative Budget and discussing expenditures and revenues with Department Heads and the Committees that they chair.  A great amount of time is spent by the Town Board and Department Heads going through the budgets.  The development of the Town budget can be a difficult and sometimes contentious process.  Keep in mind your Board members are tax payers also.  One is a retiree and another is soon to be retired.  We take any increases in taxes very seriously and held increases in spending to those that are necessary and responsible and this year has been especially difficult.  This year’s budget reflects a 2.67% increase in spending in the General and Highway budget and a 9.9% tax increase.  The primary reason for the increase is that revenues are flat.  We have a very small increase in taxable value which generates the property tax.  Sales tax is virtually unchanged based on projections.  Mortgage tax is going down, or being held flat and this is a major stream in our revenue budget.
        Spending increases are driven by inflation but many people fail to realize that this propionate share of the commodities we purchase, such as gasoline and heating fuel, insurances, road maintenance materials come from the high end of the CPI.  Although we have maintained an aggressive repayment on our debt load, circumstances have made it necessary to move forward on borrowing to pay for significant equipment and repair projects necessitated by aging infrastructure and mandates such as the Clean Water Act.  These costs have not only impacted the General and Highway budgets but also the Special Districts Budgets with reflected increases although not as high as the General Fund.  The Water District rates are an exception.  Rates for water consumption will be increased by $.35/1,000 gallons.
        As a practical matter, the 9.9% budget will yield a tax rate of $3.90/$1,000.  Every year, we use as an example, a house assessed at $135,000 to illustrate what this means in real terms.  This results in an increased cost of $48.60 per household.  This amount covers increases in highway maintenance, snow removal, police services, planning, building, recreation, and administration.  While this level of increase is disappointing to me and my fellow Board members, I believe it is a responsible spending plan that reflects the realities of today’s economy and the needs of our community.
        In terms of significant changes for next year, for our computer administrator, we propose an increase from half time to full time.  We have had a half time administrator for the past seven years and it worked well for awhile but based on the growth of the Town, the new programs we have and new hardware it has become very difficult splitting him between us and the Town of Glenville.  So much is lost in process when he starts working on a project for a few days here then must go to Glenville for a few days.  It has become very difficult to maintain continuity in the projects that he works on.
        The Board has also agreed to modify the brush pickup by eliminating the use of cans and requiring that bags be used.  We have had an increase in the weight of the cans and the danger of more workers’ comp injuries which has become very expensive.  We have had several back injuries which we have been paying off in comp claims.  Residents load up the cans and they get so heavy it’s become a danger to our employees and our fiscal well being.  We hope we won’t have as much brush and will have lower disposal fees.  
        We have eliminated a Police Officer position because the DARE program is undergoing some changes with the School District who is reviewing the program.  Presently they have hired an x-Police Officer to work part time with them.  The DARE Advisory Board is also working with the district to review the program and making a determination of the long term future of the program.  If that officer is to be put back in then that will have to occur but for now that police officer has been removed from the budget.  
        We have held expenditures for paving flat which will result in a cut back given increased costs.  In effect we will do less in terms of road maintenance given the size of this budget and trying to keep it down into single digits.  
        The budget shows an increase of $321,000 for General and Highway which is a 2.67% increase.   Sewer & Water has increased 5.5, for an overall increase of 3.57% in expenditures.
        Some of the major circumstances driving the increase in the budget are labor costs and contractual salary increases of 4% or $193,000 for the Town employees.  We have about 130 full time employees. Health insurance increased an average of 6.7% which is down from previous years.  The net increase in debt service payments is $102,000.  The Clean Water Act and an Order of Consent from DEC on inflow and infiltration work has to be done on our infrastructure and drainage system and we have had to purchase equipment to deal with it.  We can’t hold off until the debt goes down.  
        The additional half time computer systems administrated increases the budget by $38,000 with salary and benefits.  The additional funding for storm water maintenance and improvements $25,000.  
        The total taxes on a home assessed at $135,000 (with a probable market value of $240,000 to $250,000) would be $6,7222 which includes $3,888 for the school district and $1,576 for County taxes, and $852 for the Town taxes including water and sewer unit rates and the fire district of $406.  
        He showed the breakout of taxes of 49.6% for highway, 5.3% for administration and management of the town, parks and recreation is 8.8 and public works is 15.1.  Police and justice is 31.2% (71% of this goes to salaries and 22.6% for benefits, 2.2% equipment, and 4.2 miscellaneous).  The police total budget is $2,708,751 without benefits.  71% of this is for salaries or insurance.
        Highway salaries are 40.4% of their budget; benefits 15%, miscellaneous 37.6 (materials such as asphalt, sand, lime stone, crusher run) that is needed to maintain the roads.  
        He then gave an example of other Schenectady County towns over the last 10 years Glenville has increased 86.3%; Rotterdam (although based on a faulty assessment) increased 80%; the County has gone up 46% compared to the Town of Niskayuna.
        Sewer District No. 1 is going up from $3.45 to $3.51, a 1.9% increase and over a 15 year period it’s a 2.25% average per year increase.  Sewer District No. 6 is going from $2.45 to $2.55 an increase of 3.66% for an average of 2.78% over 15 years.  
        Water rates are going up and this year will go from $1.80/1,000 gallon to $2.15/1,000.  In 1993 the rate was $1.94/1,000 and it was dropped in the late 90’s and was held very low which caused a lot of the fund balance and reserved to be used up and we have been playing catch up over the last several years.  These rates are about 1/3 of Clifton Park and some of the other communities.  The Town is exploring new wells at the Town well site to increase our production.  One of our major expenses is a payment to the City for water.  We have to buy a minimum but we are going way above this minimum.  If we can hold this down using our own systems we can slow or stop the growth of that water rent consumption rate.
        Regarding debt, in 1998 the debt load was $10.2 million.  We have had an aggressive schedule of paying off debt and trying to purchase things as the debt comes off.  In the last couple of years with the consent decree from the State for the Clean Water Act we have had to buy equipment which has pushed up our debt 6.8% this past year.  There is some significant debt being forecast and those decisions will be made by the next administration
        He stated his interest in hearing suggestions that people might have for changes and reductions in the budget.  We are all tax payers and nobody likes a 9.9% tax increase.  H Hopefully it won’t continue but we had hoped to see an increase in sales tax revenue this since we heard that a lot of good things were happening with Metroplex, etc.  At the last minute we got word that it our revenue wasn’t going up.  
        
XXXXXXXXXX, 2229 Fairlawn Parkway, stated that she is becoming very concerned about the increase in taxes.  They wanted to see if others shared their concerns and did an informal poll in the community.  They are also concerned about the reassessment and what that will bear upon their taxes because they feel now it’s already too high.  
Since 2002 her taxes have gone up 39% which includes the school and town tax for her 3 bedroom 1,500 SF ranch. They understand that costs have gone up across the board but she wanted the Board to understand that costs have gone up across the board for taxpayers also.  Fuel, utility bills, food, health insurance, mortgages, college tuition are all going up. Many people on fixed income, families with young children, and people with illness in the family are really feeling the pain.  They are proud of the Town and they don’t want people to have to leave.  
The Town and County taxes and the school district’s taxes are getting pretty close.  When these taxes are getting this high it doesn’t spell good news for the people in the Town.  She moved to a middle class neighborhood because she didn’t want to incur large tax bills.  We need more commercial business coming to Town and we can’t continue this bedroom community mentality.  When we do that everything begins to rest on the taxpayers and the economy is not that great.  For long term planning we need to look at bringing commerce into Niskayuna to support the Town and our expensive school district.

        XXXXXXXXXXX, 2112 Nott Street, was surprised to find so many people as concerned about taxes as she is.  Many residents are very upset.  They spent five hours surveying the public who reported that they don’t want their taxes raised.  It’s upsetting that the taxes are raised every year.  They got 95 signatures in five hours throughout Niskayuna. The Board needs to reconsider the budget as 9.9% is much too high.  
        Supervisor Smith understood and said the hard part was what do they cut; they need suggestions.

        XXXXXXXXX, Hummingbird Manor, has lived in Town for 1-1/2 years.  He disagreed with funding improvements to Town Hall which he read about in the Times Union.  He disagreed with paying $100,000 for repaving the bike path which he does not use.  He suggested that people who use the bike path should pay for the repaving.  He still works at 73 years old to pay his taxes and has no pension or retirement. Sr. citizens are struggling and having a hard time living day to day.  
        He was informed that employees contribute to health insurance premiums.

        XXXXXXXXX, 2151 Lynnwood Drive, listed specific methods where they could cut the general and water budget by over 30% each.  The Board was elected to provide services to the residents at a price they are willing to pay.  Their job is to listen to both employees and residents to determine what is wanted and how to provide the least expensive method to providing services.  They have a legal responsibility to serve the residents not the Town employees.
        They propose a 10% tax increase on top of the natural tax increase that occurs every year through new construction and through increased assessment when a house sells.  He believes we should be able to keep our tax rate constant and it ought to be able to pay for its salaries out of the increase in assessed value for the property which moves with inflation and should be able to handle the increase cost due to an increased population because of the new construction and the increased value with this new construction.  
        The Supervisor’s budget letter says the board spent 14 hours going line by line and he suggested that the Board look at a number of departments using a zero based budget approach where you pretend that a department does not now exist and determine how to best provide the services.  Based on his eight years as Commissioner of Public Works and using a zero based budgeting approach he proposed specific ways to reduce the general budget by 31% resulting in a 21% tax cut.  
        Water District No.1’s budget could be reduced by over 30%.  The water district’s proposed budget increase is 19% in the water rate plus 17% increase in the unit rate.  Both the water rate and the unit rate have increased 40% in the past four years.  These are largely unnecessary increases.  The 2007 projection was to buy 800,000 gallons from the City which is a 220% increase over what was purchased in 1996.  In 1995 he designed five new wells that reduced the water rate by 31%.  
In 1996 the Town wells produced 60% of the Town’s water but due to lack of maintenance and repair they only produce 40% now.  He is told the Special Districts Committee when they did this project that they would have to redevelop the wells every four years and move them 10 feet every 12 years.  But the Board has failed to follow his recommendations for well redevelopment and replacement.  A replacement well costs only $30,000 and would pay for itself in months.  The bid specifications for both well redevelopment and replacement are in the Town’s files.  Why not simply have a secretary change the date of these specs and get them out for bid before year end?
        The Water District’s budget has over $250,000 for administration, salaries, and benefits to pay for this lack of action.  He suggests they totally eliminate the administration and hire consultants as needed.  The water districts budgets $50,000 in salary to run a water bill twice a year and he suggests the Town use a contract billing service and save 80%.  The water plant ran perfectly for years with two employees not its staffed 50% greater, costs twice as much, and produces less water.  The Water & Sewer Maintenance staff looks over staffed at 15 people.  Why not consider keeping the budget closer to the 2007 budget by not filling a couple of positions.  Why is highway charging $400,000 into Water & Sewer Administration thereby boosting the water and sewer rates?  He is unaware of anything that Highway does in water and sewer administration.  
Implementing just a few of these suggestions should result in a 30% decrease in the budget rather than a 19% increase in the budget.
        The Town General budget could be reduced by 31% with no decrease in services.  He suggested the Board look at each department from a zero-based budgeting approach.  Computers and the internet have changed the way we do business forever.  The Engineering Department salary and benefits are in excess of $250,000.  Under Supervisor Ed Reilly, over a six year span, with a smaller Engineering department, they designed and supervised the construction of eight soccer fields, five baseball fields, two parking pavilions, two toddler lots, a golf driving range, five new wells, a new Town Hall, capped the landfill and completed one water or sewer extension per year.
        In the past ten years there has been one sewer extension project and one skate board park probably both designed by outside consultants.  If the Town is not going to do engineering, why not totally eliminate the Engineering Department and add $30,000 for consulting engineers which would reduce the tax rate by 9%.  He reminded them that for eight years the Town has been operating without an appointed Engineer.  Both State and Town laws require the Town Engineer’s signature on a number of documents such as the acceptance of new roads.  If there were an accident and someone sued the Town, he wonders what kind of legal and insurance problems both the Board and Town would be in.  Why don’t they appoint a Town Engineer?  
        The prior Controller’s Department consisted of two people and didn’t have computers.  Computers now handle all of the accounting yet the current staff has more than doubled.  It costs Fire District No. 1 only $10.000 to account for its budget and payroll and expenses for 24 employees.  Why does it cost the Town 23 times that amount?  The salary and benefits to produce the Town’s payroll checks are nearly $100,000.  Why not consider contracting with a payroll service at $10,000 and use the savings to reduce the tax rate by 4%.  Salary and benefits for the Comptroller alone are $115,000. What does the Comptroller do except change a few numbers on the budget spread sheets each year?  Why not consider eliminating the Comptroller and contracting with an accounting firm for about $40,000 per year reducing the tax rate another 3%.  
        Years ago each Town appointed an assessor to estimate the current value of property.  Now it’s done every decade by outside consultants using computer models.  Each time a property changes hands the County reports its selling price.  In between reassessments, the State provides the Town with an estimate of how to adjust the property values.  He does not understand what the Assessor’s Department does today.  Why not consider eliminating it and continue reassessing every ten years using consultants which would reduce the tax rate another 5%.  
        He designed and maintained the Town’s computer network as a minor part-time assignment.  Yet in 2008, the maintenance expensive is being doubled into a full time job which costs us $100,000.  Why not consider contracting with a computer support firm at $20,000 and reduce the tax rate another 3%.
        The Receiver of Tax Department tells an outside computer service when to run the tax bills and then collects two tax bills and two water bills per year.  This might have made sense 50 years ago but today a local bank could receive these payments for free in exchange for getting the float on the money.  Why not consider eliminating the Receiver’s Department and reducing the tax rate another 2%.
        Salaries and benefits to the two Building Inspectors is $164,000.  For many years during peak building years, Niskayuna managed with only one inspector.  The current mortgage lending crisis has resulted in a rapid slow down of new construction that is likely to last for years plus there are fewer building lots left in Niskayuna.  Why not eliminate one Building Inspector thereby reducing the tax rate by 3%.  
        Fire District No. 1 is budgeting $8,000 for attorneys while the Town is budgeting twelve times that amount.  Why not pay the attorney’s by the hour rather than an annual contract and reduce the budgeted amount from $100,000 to $50,000 and reduce the tax rate another 2%.  
        The Police, Highway, Recreation, Highway, Justice, Town Clerk, and Sewer Department’s look reasonable to him.  
        Why not consider replacing some of the wells as soon as possible and reduce the water rate by over 10% rather than a 19% increase.  My suggestions consist of reducing the engineering department by 9%, comptroller by 7%, assessor by 5%, computer maintenance by 3%, tax receiver by 2%, building inspector by 3%, town attorney by 2% giving you a budget down by 31% resulting in a tax decrease of 21% rather than a tax increase of 10%.  Zero based budgeting will upset Town staff that will lose their jobs.  But the Town Board must legally represent the residents not the Town employees in providing the services that residents wants at as low a cost as possible.  Please bite the bullet.
        
XXXXX, 1131 Mohegan Road, is happy with the services that the Town provides.  Another way to keep our budget is to increase our revenues.  Residential land in Town doesn’t exist anymore.  Most of the lots have been built upon and the remaining lands are all commercial.  We need to be able to develop the commercial base to attract more revenue to help with our budget issues.
        
        XXXXXXXXX, 5 Cliff Street, complained about the traffic on Albany and Filmore Avenue and dangerous conditions for pedestrians, especially children waiting for school buses due to the curvature of the road and the heavy, speeding traffic.  Bringing in more commercial when some stores are empty doesn’t make sense.
        
        XXXXXXXX, 1919 Pawtucket Avenue, although not liking to see her taxes rise, noted that the Town portion is the smallest, the County much more, with school taxes unbelievable.  She sees a lot of services she receives from the Town that she doesn’t get from the County.  The roads are maintained, she gets sewer and water, she gets good planning and this is very important to her and gives her a quality of life she would not have in the City.  This is very valuable and she thinks the Town is doing this right.  She watched the Board go through line by line and being very careful to not forecast revenue that won’t be there.  She knows how much of an effort this took.  She thinks the budget is realistic and she would like to see the increase be less but this budget is realistic.

        Councilwoman Kasper thanked Mr. Kent for his suggestions.  She agreed with some and disagreed with others.  The Board took a lot of time with this budget but this is their job.  They could have taken more time and this doesn’t mean this is the final budget.  Budgets can be changed up until they vote in November and she thinks they have more work to do.  She thinks the budget has some places to cut and she wants an executive salary freeze of $80,000 and there is about $35,000 we can take from various lines.  She also proposed a hiring freeze which could mean $50,000 for one employee not replaced.  This comes to $165,000 which would cut the increase in half.  Everybody has had a time when their salary was frozen.  She has heard a suggestion of using more fund balance to lower the increase but the safest way is to get the money from the top which is don’t spend it.  She doesn’t want to cut any services that are a detriment to the health and welfare of our citizens.  

        XXXXXXX, 1131Mohegan Road, said that cuts are fine but if they read the economic report on the Stanford Crossing project that would generate $150,000 per year in sales taxes and property taxes.  This is a perfect place to start helping increase revenues.
        
        XXXXXXXXXX, 2421 Troy Road, stated that that promise of great taxes coming out of that $50 million benefit for Lecce and Roth and the developers is a phony one.  It will suck business from other places in Town.  We have empty spaces in this Town with another empty space when Blockbuster goes and we need to fill those places.  We don’t need to rip down the history whose site can be used for many things.  They never gave us a chance, they had a secret contract with Highbridge and trustees and nobody knew about it as this went through the Town.  He is out to make $50-60 million on that but who pays for those unnecessary buildings?  
        Supervisor Smith corrected Ms. Champagne that there have been no secret meetings about this project with anybody from this Town Board unless from her side which he didn’t know.  Every meeting has been open.  Ms. Champagne stated there was a secret contract and there have been secret meetings.
        
Councilman Chapman stated that they will have to take a hard look at a hiring freeze and with retirements the Town can generate some accruals there.  Other members of the Board have not been too wild about considering modifications to the paving budget and he suggested 5% which would be $25,000.  He suggested that we have a payment in lieu of taxes for Alterra on Upper Union Street and with the Glen Eddy and he would like to approach Ingersoll.  It wouldn’t be a lot of money this year but they do grow over time.  
        The $100,000 that was mentioned for repaving the bike path is not in this budget (it disappeared a long time ago).  The $61,000 for repairs to Town Hall has been reduced considerably and any figure is for all facilities not just Town Hall.  We have been through the budget more than once and he is willing to go back again.  There are things that Mr. Kent mentioned that he will be taking a look at.  In fairness to the Board and Town department heads we have spent time looking carefully at the line items and trying to see if we can squeeze more money out of those.  We do want to maintain services, we have a good Police Department, and a request for an additional officer has been taken out of the budget and lots of other things.  We will keep looking for other places to make cuts.
        Supervisor Smith stated we will continue to look for cuts and it doesn’t end until we vote.  

        XXXXXXXXX, 2112 Nott Street, asked for confirmation that 31% of the Town’s budget was for the Police Department.

        XXXXXXX, 2455 Brookshire Drive, requested an explanation of the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT).  We are getting property taxes from vacant commercial properties but we are not getting sales tax.  We need commerce now.  By the time other places are built we won’t see relief quickly because of the PILOT for new businesses.  The budget is high and there seems to be a balance between getting rid of a DARE officer and increasing to the Computer Manager.  There are other areas that should be reviewed.  
        
        In addressing Mr. Boyd’s concerns, Councilman Chapman added that the Town Board has tried hard to make some improvements on Albany Street.  We have installed new sewers for 80 homeowners and the Town received a 0% loan to cut the cost in half to make it affordable.  They got a grant for low income homeowners to pay for the hookup from their home out to the sewer line.  
While they were working on the extension they held off on paving the road and they have now been repaved and water drainage was addressed at the same time.  
Our Town Planner, in collaboration with nearby municipalities, has been working on forming a nature preserve near Albany Street which would be an open space area for the neighborhood.  They also have a new 100 acre development on the other side of State Street near Consaul Road who will provide 65 acres of open and green space that will have trails which is a nice amenity for this neighborhood.   
Mohawk Commons has provided some shopping facilities for this neighborhood.  The Town has been working on getting more light industry and commercial development.  We have a new Light Industry & Technology Zone in the northwest corner of Town and this is becoming a Light Industry/High Tech corridor.  General Electric, Schenectady International, Environment One have all expanded; there is a new medical arts building at River and Balltown Road and we have the Unilux Boiler Plant.  He is hopeful we will get tenants in St, James Square and Upper Union Street will continue to prosper to help with the tax burden.
        
TOWN CLERK’S BUSINESS
        The minutes of the Regular meeting of September 25 and October 9 were approved as presented.

PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
XXXXXXX, 1082 Regent Street, stated that he felt the Town is inappropriately supporting a local developer’s efforts to commercialize a parcel of land known as Ingersoll or Stanford property.  In a surprise to him, and many of his fellow citizens, the Town has, without review and approval of the Town Board, taken upon itself to appeal a decision by Schenectady County Court Judge Sise.  The Courts ruling nullified the Town’s approval of a Special Use Permit for construction on the Ingersoll/Stanford site.  He nullified the permit because the Town did not adhere to the relevant laws guiding the issuance of that permit.  The Town’s appeal is highly irregular.  Contrary to what they may have been told, it is not simply a matter of procedure.  The appeal is a radically different action. In joining the appeal, the Town is taking a proactive stance fighting against the Friends of the Stanford Home.  The Town has started a new law suit but apparently is a main participant in the litigation.  The Town could simply have accepted the Court decision and rest.  Instead, rather than simply following the Court’s order, the Town is advocating for the developers. This partisan position is astonishing given that the Town is deeply divided on this issue and it begs the question why is the Town fighting a legal battle to help the developer avoid State laws that simply require a full environment impact analysis of the project.  Why, rather than simply reevaluating its action and following the appropriate State law. Is the Town now not only ignoring the law as it is written but is also challenging Judge Sise’s ruling.  He submits that not only is the Town’s appeal an act of bad citizenship but is also a frivolous use of resources and taxes that need far great scrutiny and justification.  
The Town Board is the governing body that must review this matter as part of its fiduciary responsibilities.  Such duties include taking care that any extraordinary use of Town resources such as the use of the Town Attorney and the Town staff who support him.  It should be reviewed, assessed for appropriateness and approved by the Town Board before these resources are utilized.  As you know, the Town goes through the exhaustive, but fiscally and legally necessary procedure of reviewing and approving the purchase of snow plows and promoting the Town’s law enforcement officer to new ranks.  It is amazing that these far lighter matters receive such scrutiny when this very serious matter does not.  
        Given the above, I respectfully request that the Town Board produce a copy of the resolution authorizing the Town to appeal the Court’s decision and justify that decision for the voting public.  If no resolution authorizing that appeal was approved by the Board prior to the appeal then appropriate actions must be taken to rescind the Town’s involvement in the appeal.  The legal mechanisms for doing so would be to withdraw its Notice of Appeal.  Recent investigations by the New York State Comptroller have shown that the misuse of government employees is a serious matter.  If the Town’s legal appeal was made without a resolution of the Board it is imperative to explore and rectify any fiscal irregularities including misuse of salaried employees and address any questionable policy decisions that led to that activity.  Potential conflicts of interest should also be explored.  He looks forward to your response in this matter.

        XXXXXXXXXXX, 2421 Troy Road, identified herself as President of Friends of Stanford Home, who won an Article 78 case in September against the Town. During the course of the last year it was said by the Supervisor and others that the Friends were illegal and the Town had to give the Special Use Permit.  They never had to give this permit because they have a choice and given all the circumstances they should have done an EIS as requested by the Conservation Advisory Council and the Planning Board who recommend a Special Use Permit after they did an EIS.  
The case was also looked over by a very high quality judge, Joseph Sise.  It meant that the Special Use Permit that had been granted to Highbridge Development was nullified.  They expected the developer to appeal but they did not expect the Town to appeal, especially if was never discussed at any public meeting and was not voted on by any of the Board members and some did not even know that the Town had appealed on October 8 until they saw the document.  Can they inform the residents by some document that it was properly appealed after a discussion and resolution by the Town Board?  They feel that the process of appealing without a public discussion by the Board and a vote to go ahead may not be proper. When the Town appealed it created an automatic stay.  The SUP which was held in abeyance by Judge Sise’s decision is back in play.
        What are the solutions now by the actions of the Town Attorney who filed the October 8 Notice of Appeal.  First, the Town Board could vote to order Eric Dickson to withdraw the appeal and she would advocate this.  If the Friends of Stanford Home make a motion to the Appellate Court to vacate the automatic stay for the Town, the Town can consent to that action to vacate the stay.  In other words, the SUP would not be decided upon until the Appellate decision dealt with the appeal by Highbridge.  
        They urged all Town Board members to act now to seek a Board majority to act in the interest of obeying the judgment of Judge Sise regarding the inappropriate actions which led to the Town’s issuing a SUP to Highbridge.  All citizens who care about preserving the Stanford/Ingersoll site, as well as those concerned about proper legal procedures by our elected officials, she urged them to call and write letters and appeal as she is doing directly to the Town Board, and to the area, the community, the media, the newspapers to protest this current appeal by the Town.

XXXXXXX, 5 Cliff Street, stated that he supported the statements made by Ms. Champagne and hoped the Town would adhere to her request

XXXXXXX, 2455 Brookshire Drive, noted that regarding the appeal of the decision of Judge Sise, she requested the Supervisor to change his vote to appeal since he will be leaving the Board.  Even though there have been some wonderful accomplishments and achievements in his eight years as Supervisor, conceding that the appeal is not best for the Town she believed would enable him to leave his administration on a higher note.

XXXXXXXX, 1131Mohegan Road, stated that there is a petition signed by 300 Town residents in support of the Stanford Crossings project and he asked the Board to keep their best interests in mind when they make future decisions.  They could not be there today, but he spoke on behalf of the 300 residents who signed the petition in favor of the project.

SPECIAL DISTRICTS
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise indicated.
        Resolution 2007-222 authorizes advertisement for bids for the purchase of chemicals to be used in its Public Works Operations during 2008.

        Resolution 2007-223 authorizes the execution of an Outside Sewer User Agreement with Stephen J. Riviezzo and Holli A. Riviezzo, owners of property located at 2254 Banker Avenue.

        Resolution 2007-224 authorizes the execution of an Outside Sewer Agreement for the Monarch Group, owners of property located at 2250 Banker Avenue.

GENERAL RESOLUTIONS
        Resolution 2007-225 adopts the Annual Plan for 2007 for Section 8 housing.

        Resolution 2007-226 authorizes the repair to the roof of the Town Office Building by Bradley Services, for a total cost not to exceed $3,600.

        Resolution 2007-227 allows a deck over a portion of a Town easement to Michael F. Henry and Mary S. Henry, owners of 1302 Rowe Road.

        Resolution 2007-228 appoints Frank DeMasi, Frederick Muellen, Christopher Rochow, and Richard Stevenson, to the position of substitute bus drivers, on an as-needed basis, to service the Community Center during times of absence of the regular bus driver at an hourly rate of $13.00 per hour, effective November 1, 2007.

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

                                        Helen Kopke, Town Clerk



 
One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
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