The First Public Hearing regarding the 2012 Budget was held November 9th, 2011 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:
Richard Biggio – Town Supervisor
Lloyd DeMun, II – Councilman
Paul Mortzheim – Councilman
Gerry Simcoe - Councilman
Richard Johnson – Highway Superintendent
Paul Stermer – Councilman
- attendance list
• Meeting was called to order by Richard Biggio at @ 7:02pm.
• Pledge to the flag completed.
• Minutes accepted with corrections
Announcements by Richard Biggio:
• Election Results – Congratulations to Gerry Simcoe, Pat Clark, Linda Salyerds, Megan Thistle, and Harry Pierce.
• Cemetery Volunteers – Dee and Randy Hill will assess the tree, bushes and flags with Richard and determine when and what to do. More volunteers will be needed for spring cleanup. Contact Richard Biggio (684-8450).
• Gas Drilling – Thank you Mary for forwarding the emails regarding imminent Gas Drilling operations. Richard expects things to be happening by April next year. Long-term studies have been done that are factual regarding the effects of Boom and Bust cycles and Richard urges the new Board to watch the Gas Drilling events closely.
2012 Budget Public Hearing:
Richard Biggio prefaced the public hearing: The increase is low and was kept low because the school taxes were so high. There are future needs in terms of highway equipment and one new truck can cost $180 thousand. The Town does have reserve accounts started.
Regarding the increase in the Highway Superintendent Position salary: The goal is to have the position filled by a knowledgeable resident who can meet the needs of the town. The problem is the cost of health insurance. A balance was sought that would benefit both a person filling the position and the Town in order to reduce the cost of taxes paying for health insurance. The Board didn’t feel right to offer a full insurance but tried to make up some difference in the salary.
The Board is working on putting money into reserves in order to avoid what other townships have had to do, borrow.
There is an increase for the Fire Department. With training costs, gear, equipment and so forth, this increase is not superficial and the town should be proud of the organization and what they do.
The Board did a diligent job developing this preliminary budget.
Fran Woodring – asked about the railroad taxes.
Now that activity on the railroad has increased, the assessors will have to re-assess.
Dick Pierce – Asked if the Assessor Chair is elected and can the Chair come to the meetings and give a report?
Richard Biggio – Suggested a quarterly report. The Chair is chosen among the Assessors and then appointed by the Board each year.
Jeff Swan – questioned the increase in Highway Superintendent Position salary from $37,000 to $45,000 and asked about the difference between the cost for 2-person insurance and family insurance ($6500).
Richard Biggio – the salary is not out of line with surrounding towns.
Jeff Swan – What about the question to be on the ballot about whether the Highway Superintendent position should be elected or appointed?
Richard Biggio ¬– The Board did pass the law but the Board of Elections had a caveat: If someone was running, the Town Board had 30 days before the election to get the question on the ballot. If someone was not on the ballot, the Town had to get the question on the ballot 130 days before the election. We missed the deadline but it’s a local law and we can re-enact this for the next election. It can be reviewed again by the next Board but the consensus of everyone at the Public Hearing was to place the question on the ballot.
Paul Mortzheim - Something people missed was that everyone has the constitutional right to petition their local government.
Dale A. Salisbury - This is not meant to be accusatory. 21% increase regarding the Highway Superintendent position salary is ridiculous. Did trying to fit someone from the town into the position play a roll? Because that’s wrong.
Richard Biggio – everything was done in a public meeting. We know the problems of perception but we needed to look at the net effect on the budget. The net effect is a financial benefit to the Town.
Kathy Biggio – I created a formula so that if a person in the town did not take the position the salary and benefits were flexible enough to make the position desirable to someone else. The Board didn’t fit this to a particular person.
Dale A. Salisbury ¬– What is the average salary across towns?
Gerry Simcoe – some are: Jasper - $40,680; Addison - $45,500; Rathbone - $44,400; Tuscarora - $32,607. Other towns were also considered.
Dale A. Salisbury – Were there discussions amongst the Board and an individual prior to the meetings?
Richard Biggio – not outside the meetings.
Dale A. Salisbury – How can you ask an individual even in a meeting what they would accept or not accept?
Richard Biggio – it was about how much the insurance would cost, not the salary.
Dale A. Salisbury – asked why there was any discussion at all for the position and what it would take for the person to move from one position to another.
Gerry Simcoe – I did make a phone call to the individual following the election because there were all kinds of rumors.
Jeff Swan – Do we have something to compare all Town salaries?
Richard Biggio – We can do that. The problem is that benchmarking in public works has problems because of the number of variables per town.
Paul Mortzheim - We tried this a couple years ago but town sizes, steep hills, paved roads, number of roads all play into how a salary is determined for a particular town.
Jeff Swan – Raised the issue of the Court costs. $6000 for the Justice, $900 for a bailiff. His feeling that the Justice salary was out of line.
Paul Mortzheim - stated that the Court also brings in more money ($40,000). They are doing a good job with a lot of work.
Jeff Swan – Will the salary decrease if the workload decreases?
Richard Biggio – In these cases we can do benchmarking. They did a lot of work when you consider the backlog, getting 48 states in agreement for those people who had left the state, and it doesn’t look like things are going to slow down.
Gerry Simcoe – Indicated that if workload did decrease, the first thing to go would be the expense for the Court Clerk position.
Kathy Biggio – showed a graph that reflected costs and revenues in the Court department, with a dramatic increase in revenues as compared to the cost of the Court.
Paul Mortzheim - Several people have contacted me asking why there is an increase of 20% in the Highway Superintendent position salary. The people aren’t here because they have respect for the people working for the town and don’t want to point at anyone. I don’t see a justification for the increase.
Dale A. Salisbury – questioned if money was taken out of savings.
Kathy Biggio - $10,000 in surplus from each fund from 2011 will be used for 2012.
Jeff Swan – What about Control of Dogs?
Richard Biggio – contracted with Chemung County SPCA 24/7 and have a good response.
Kitty Pierce – Do they deal with wild rabid animals?
Kathy Biggio – they would refer you to the DEC but rabid pets they deal with.
Paul Mortzheim motioned that the 2012 Budget be voted on. Gerry Simcoe seconded. Roll – all agreed.
Richard Biggio asked for a vote to adopt the 2012 Budget. Roll – Gerry Simcoe - Yes; Richard Biggio – Yes; Lloyd DeMun – No; Paul Mortzheim – No.
Paul Mortzheim indicated that he would like a full Board present when there’s a split. Richard Biggio agreed and said he also felt the decision could have been made tonight with the Board members present. Paul Mortzheim expressed his concern about the cost of medical insurance and this was reinforced for him when several people asked him about the costs. “I can’t convince people that it’s ok.”
Howie McFall – to Paul Mortzheim – You should tell them they should be here.
Paul Mortzheim – I agree. But no one wants to say anything that might be construed as against anyone.
Richard Biggio – Health, medical, and pension problems started with the introduction of free trade agreements and it upset the economic balance, and we’re paying for it.
Lloyd DeMun – we’ve been raising the salary for the Highway Superintendent position 3% all these years and this is the biggest kick in the face to Dick Johnson. We have to figure the salary out based on the Highway Superintendent position. When asked for an amount he would approve, Lloyd said $41,000 with 2-person insurance, just like it was started at.
Richard Biggio – that’s a 10.8% increase.
Lloyd DeMun – If he won’t take that salary, I will and I’ll do a good job too.
Richard Biggio asked for a motion to table the 2012 Budget Hearing decision until next week when all Board members could be present. Gerry Simcoe made the motion. Lloyd DeMun seconded. Roll – all agreed.
Richard Biggio and Kathy Biggio will prepare the financial documentation and present at next meeting.
Second Public Hearing on the 2012 Budget will occur on Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 at 7:00 pm.
The Model Local Road Use and Preservation Law has been reviewed but it’s been over a month since we looked at it. We need to vote on this. Gerry Simcoe made the motion to table this decision until the Board has time to review. Paul Mortzheim seconded. Roll – all agreed.
Jeff Swan – asked about the Ambulance contract and if the savings would show on the bill.
Richard Biggio – has not talked to Al Lewis - but the best thing would be for you to call because I don’t know how much they would share with me, since I’m not the patient.
Jeff Swan – I think it should show our savings on the bill before we do any future business with them.
Jeff Swan – What about the campers in the trailer parks? They’re still there.
Dave Fuller, Code Enforcement Officer – NYS Department of Health is working on getting them moved because it is a septic system issue. I need a law to base a citation on. If a septic overflows and runs on the ground I can report that.
Discussion about campers, mobile homes, trailers, and zoning law. Trailer parks are assessed and taxed based on the number of lots available, not on the number of trailers present.
Dave Fuller - Process in cases of violations is that it will go to court and person has about 21 days before a judgment if they don’t fix the problem. If they correct the problem, usually it’s been dismissed.
Board reviewed bills. Gerry Simcoe made the motion to pay the bills. Lloyd DeMun seconded. Roll – all agreed.
Paul Mortzheim made the motion to transfer $135.34 from A1990.4 Contingency to A8510.4 Community Beautification for the recent work done on the Memorial Lawn at the Town Hall. Gerry Simcoe seconded. Roll – all agreed.
Paul Mortzheim made the motion to transfer $544.60 from A1990.4 Contingency to A8810.4 Cemetery for lawn care. Gerry Simcoe seconded. Roll – all agreed.
Paul Mortzheim made the motion to transfer $12,457.42 from D9060.8 Health to D5112.2 CHPs for road work. Gerry Simcoe seconded. Roll – Paul Mortzheim initially said no, then yes, after discussion of the poor quality of road work completed. Gerry Simcoe – Yes; Lloyd DeMun – No; Richard Biggio – Yes.
Discussion about the third transfer and the fact that sometimes, a project will go over budget. Also the difficulty that in this case the money is spent and the bill has to be paid.
Paul Mortzheim made the motion to adjourn. Lloyd DeMun seconded. Roll – all agreed. Meeting adjourned.
Lindley Town Clerk