Public Hearing - 2011 Budget

The 2011 Budget Public Hearing was held November 10th, 2010 at the Lindley Town Hall, 637 US 15, PO Box 62
Lindley, New York 14858.
Official Minutes held at Town Clerk’s Office

Town Board Members Present:
Gerry Simcoe – Deputy Town Supervisor
Lloyd DeMun, II - Councilman
Paul Mortzheim – Councilman
Paul Stermer – Councilman

Richard Biggio – Town Supervisor

Attendance list

• Meeting was called to order by Gerry Simcoe @ 7:05pm.
• Pledge to the flag completed.
• Reports were received from Town Clerk, Justice, Historian, Supervisor, and Highway Superintendent.
• Minutes of the September Board Meeting were accepted as read. The reading of the other meeting minutes were waived.

1. Gerry S. announced that Richard Biggio was away due to illness.
2. Gerry S. announced that a resolution was needed to adopt Sawyer Rd. as part of the Lindley Town roads per a request by the NYS DOT for their inventory. Paul Mortzheim made the motion to include Sawyer Road as previously included. Paul Stermer seconded. Roll – all present agreed.
Motion Carried
3. The bridge on Cty Hwy 115 into Lawrenceville will open with a ribbon cutting ceremony on November 18th.

Budget Review:
Gerry S. indicated that the budget for General Fund is $255,701 with the amount to be raised by taxes being $170,401. Budget for Highway is $551,880 with the amount to be raised by taxes being $434,380. Proceeded to review line by line items.
Jeffery Swan asked why a Bailiff was needed for the court. Gerry S. indicated that one time per month there were criminal cases. On these occasions, sometimes family members/friends arrive that can require the presence of a bailiff to subdue high emotions. Jeffery Swan indicated there are two justices in Cooper and no bailiff. Jeffery asked why a panic button was needed. Paul Mortzheim indicated that a panic button in all the offices supports everyone, and Gerry S. indicated that there was only one court session per month that the bailiff was present, so a panic button would assist on the other court dates.
Dick Pierce stated that the Town did away with a constable and stated that according to Town Law couldn’t the constable serve as the bailiff? Gerry S. indicated this would most likely cost more than the $900 a year for a bailiff.
Jeffery Swan indicated that the constable costs were paid by whoever had him serve the papers.
Kitty Pierce asked if the bailiff lived within the town of Lindley. Gerry S. indicated he would find out.
Jeffery Swan asked why the Justice salary went up by so much? Without the Finance Director present the Board had to estimate it went up about $200-$800. Gerry S. said he could find out how much it went up. Jeffery indicated that Lindley’s budget for the court is the highest, followed by Addison. Jeffrey S. read salaries for surrounding towns compared to Lindley. Gerry S. commented that Lindley has Rte 15 traffic tickets. Kitty P. asked how much was for the Court Clerk and Mary Lentzen asked how much money the Justice was bringing in to the town. Paul M. indicated the Board was having difficulty getting a fully disclosed amount given the confidentiality of the court finances, back money from the previous term, and no track record. Paul M. indicated that as of yet, the court was not working on a steady stream number.
Jeffery Swan asked why a Court Clerk was needed. Gerry S. indicated there was a large backlog from the previous term. Gerry S. indicated that the mailbox is now full of new tickets as well. Jeffery Swan expressed his opinion that it doesn’t seem like the Town is getting it’s money’s worth, and that other towns don’t spend as much.
Gerry S. indicated that it’s possible tickets could increase when the truck scales station up the highway gets put in. That may be in 2015. Paul M. indicated the town is getting more money over the cost of the court. It’s estimated that the town gets approximately 23 - 30% of the cost of the tickets, overall.
Jeffrey Swan stated it was his opinion that the Justice was wanting another raise and this shouldn’t happen. The other towns pay less.
Pam Clarkson Smith commented that the Justice was wanting higher pay because she has to work 24/7 and that the justice knew that coming into the job. Paul S. indicated that all justices are 24/7. Pam S. stated that the Justice knew what the job paid when she took the position. Gerry S. indicated that next time there will be a track record to go by. Kitty Pierce asked about the salary being set for a term or a year? Gerry S. and Paul M. indicated that it would be set for that year but could go down for the next year, but not below the amount it was upon election. Salary when elected was approximately $5600 or 5800. Justice received a raise the first year based on workload and backlog. Kitty P. commented she was with Jeffery Swan and indicated the Justice pay was too high compared to other towns.
Continued on to other line items:
Jeffrey commented that the Finance Director salary was high compared to other towns. Indicated that Supervisor always did it. Board explained that the town of Lindley has had a separate person the last few years and the pay is low.
Pam Clarkson Smith commented on the difference between the raise for the Town Clerk vs. the Justice, who was getting several hundred. No comments. Pam S. asked if the Justice was at the Town Hall one night per week. This was confirmed. Pam S. added that she worked for minimum wage for years and saw it as a community service. Paul M. commented that the Town Clerk won’t take a raise even though the Board tries to give her one. Kitty Pierce added that the Town Clerk works 24/7 too. Board agreed.
Discussion of Legal Services and current fee-for-service system as compared to past.
Dog control discussion is slightly cheaper by contracting with Chemung Co. SPCA. Dog licensing will be done now out of Town Clerk’s office. NYS is dropping their involvement. Previous Dog Control Officer now lives in Campbell and works swing shifts. Chemung Co. SPCA is available to accept 24/7 and will accept sick animals as well.
Dick Pierce asked about Dust Control funding. Gerry S. indicated this would be discussed later in the meeting. Jeffery asked if it was returned to the budget, like it was taken out before. Board as a group commented that this had never been removed.
Regarding the Library funding, Jeffery stated he was glad to see one town stood up. Linda Swan stated that it is a necessary service to the communities, the staff is small, the Supervisor is not the highest paid in the state, and that she has actually saved money since in the position through energy savings and endowments. The Library serves the whole Southeast Steuben County area. Cost per family is about $2-$5.

Regarding the numbers for State Retirement: - Kitty Pierce asked who that is for. Gerry S. stated that this covers Dick Johnson. Paul M. clarified that no one from the past is on it.

Fran Tempel expressed that it is worth stating, regarding concern about the Court, that they are bringing in $22,000, so it’s a wash.

Paul M. indicated that this number was the Board's expectation, since the Justice legally can’t give an expected revenue amount. Paul M. stated, based on the overall state numbers, $22,000 is what the Board has agreed upon for expected revenue.

Regarding Highway expenses – Paul M. stated that road oil is in the Contractual line item and is not broken down between oil, salt, and so forth. Use is at the discretion of the Highway Superintendent. Paul Stermer commented that after the Board determines the amounts in the budget, the Board has no control over how it’s spent. Paul M. clarified that the Board is always trying to save money and in the past observed that oil for dust control was being placed where it was not needed. Therefore the amount needed was cut back. Paul M. indicated that his understanding was that it seemed the community thought the Board took away funding for road oil. This did not happen.

Frank Hall indicated it seemed there was a feud going on between Highway Superintendent and the Board. Board disagreed. Gerry S. stated that the line item that includes dust oil is up to $50,000. Paul M. stated that the Highway Superintendent is elected and the Board cannot control what he does. Paul M. indicated he had heard from community members that the Highway Superintendent has said that if he couldn’t oil everyone’s driveway he wasn’t doing anyone’s. Discussion about dust control, saving money, and the decision being the Highway Superintendent’s.
Dick Pierce commented that Paul M. had come a long way from “it was your decision to live there.”
Dick Pierce asked about whether or not Dick Johnson would run for re-election next year. This was not in writing at this time. Dick Pierce asked what the salary would be for the next person. Gerry S. said a notice would be put in for the position when needed. Dick P. raised the issue about a new person coming in getting paid the same as a veteran worker. Paul M. indicated that the Board would do a comparative analysis of roads and so forth and what the current standard rate is. Dick Pierce commented that it seemed the Board was putting itself in a box by not talking about the roads until May 2011 as regards appointing or electing a new highway superintendent.
Paul reviewed the Boards’ qualifications as relates to road conditions (truckers, businessmen, contractors) and the expressed his opinion that the Board is qualified to help set the salary.
CHIPS discussion regarding expected decrease of funds starting next year. Amount is not known at this time but is expected to decrease.
Jeffrey Swan asked if Dick Johnson knows what he’s budgeted for the year and does he show the Board what’s left? Does the Board get the money back? Paul M. indicated there’s often $38-40,000 left that is returned to the budget.
Jeffrey Swan asked about Town savings. Current reserves expected will be $293,600 for Highway Fund, and $198,500 for General Fund. There is also a restricted “Equipment” fund of $100,000 for highway equipment only. Town is only allowed by law to save a certain amount above tax rate. Gerry S. said there might be some in the Cemetery for Fairview, perhaps $3-4000 but legalities are still being worked out.

Total expected increase of the Town is 5.61%, with some funding from Town savings helping to drop it ($23,000 from savings). The County chargebacks will then be added to that.

Jeffrey Swan commented his observance of tax breaks for businesses coming into other towns. Should the town of Lindley do a similar thing? Gerry S. thought there was some hope with the new access roads for higher-end homes. Jeff S. thought the gas drilling might increase the cost of buying. Discussion about when this might happen in NY. Possibly 6 months to a year.

Megan Thistle, Town Clerk, asked for clarification about where in the line items should salary and contractuals be placed. Examples were her own line items, with her deputy town clerk’s salary, and the justice/court clerk/bailiff line items. For consistency, legality, and the salary page for elected officials, where and what should the line items reflect? Discussion and Board opinion was that salaries be broken down between elected official’s salary and other personnel salaries. These should be on separate lines in order to not be misleading to the community. Paul M. stated that technically the bailiff and court clerk salaries could be cancelled, but not the Justice’s. Megan T. asked if the $11,140 total would still be paid to the Court, even if work load decreased. Paul S. expressed his opinion that the Justice may be placing all personnel on one line item so that the Board could not cancel the bailiff or the court clerk. Paul M. commented that the Justice’s request might be to cover the cell phone expenses she’s experienced and that both that and the other personnel expenses should go on the contractual line. This wouldn’t change the total amount for the court. Gerry S. said the line item issue could be corrected.
Jeff S. expressed confusion that the Town isn’t able to see some of the court books. Board clarified that many tickets were youthful offenders and therefore confidential. Paul M. commented that years ago, the board would see who had a ticket and how much was paid on it. Now it’s a lot different and the Board is still required to do an audit. The Board has determined that any audit the Board does has no validity because there’s nothing to that the Board can see to compare receipts or deposits. Lloyd commented that the Justice is setting up a meeting between the Board members and a NYS auditor to learn how to do Justice audits.
Jeff S. asked if the Town had been approached by the same outfit that appraised Caton. Paul M. indicated that 4 years ago they looked at it. It would have cost $75,000 because of the impact all the highway and Hawbaker changes were having and so the results would have been useless. And if the Town doesn’t keep up to date on it the Town would have had to do it again at the cost to the Town.
Budget motion wording was discussed. Need Kathy to review Line Items for A1110.1 and what should be included in there, and also correct page 17 to reflect accurate Elected Official’s salary.

Paul Mortzheim made the motion to adopt the 2011 budget with those stipulations that do not impact the financials. Seconded by Lloyd DeMun. Roll – Lloyd DeMun – Yes; Paul Mortzheim – No; Paul Stermer – No; Gerry Simcoe – Yes.
Motion Failed

Fran Tempel asked what the next step would be. Gerry S. stated the Board would have to make a decision next meeting, Wednesday the 17th, with the Budget due the 19th. This will be a public meeting but not a public hearing. The Board will need to work out the differences and make a vote.

Bills were reviewed and approved with exceptions noted on the certification pages. Paul Stermer made the motion to pay the bills. Seconded by Paul Mortzheim. Roll – all present agreed.

Lloyd D. asked Paul S. and Paul M. why they voted against the budget motion and both expressed their concerns with the Highway budget and accountability. General discussion of Highway expenses ensued.

Motion to adjourn the meeting made by Lloyd D. Seconded by Paul Stermer. Meeting adjourned at 10:00pm

Respectfully submitted,

Megan Thistle
Lindley Town Clerk

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