Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Stacey Farina new Speculator Deputy Clerk

Speculator VB August 26 2019

Stacey Farina new Speculator Deputy Clerk
SPECULATOR--The Speculator Board of Trustees met on August 26 and Stacey Farina was put forward for the Deputy Clerk position. After discussion, and no objections from the Board, Mayor Jeannette Barrett appointed Farina to fill the unexpired term of the Deputy Village Clerk/Treasurer that was created by the resignation of Roxanne Cook that took effect on May 31, 2019.The term will run through March 31, 2021. This part-time position is scheduled for 25 hours per week and thus is not eligible for benefits and is classified as FLSA-non-exempt with a wage of $16.50 hour. Start date is September 10.
Trustee Karen McComb suggested the Trustees be given the courtesy of seeing the draft minutes prior to public posting. Mayor Barrett noted the process of providing Clerk minutes to the Hamilton County Express prior to Board approval was a long-standing policy and one which continues to date and that according to the Handbook for Elected Village Officials, as well as the prior Clerk, minutes are drafted in compliance to said Handbook; oversight and/or board approval has and continues to be by local precedence and is not a State law requirement.
Trustee Letty Rudes made a motion Clerk minutes be provided to the Board by noon Wednesday following the Board meetings; any comments or questions regarding information must be submitted to the Clerk within 48 hours for her consideration of modification. As usual, minutes will be formally approved at the following Board meeting. Trustee Eric Craven seconded and the motion was passed unanimously.
Neil McGovern and Bob Benkovich commented it was their understanding the Clerk’s minutes belonged to the Clerk and did not have to be approved before being made public. It was also commented minutes should be available to the public as soon as possible; to which Art Brown also agreed. Open Meetings Law requires minutes to be posted no later than two weeks of the public meeting.
Highway Superintendent Roger Blanchard Jr. Superintendent submitted the following written report: “30 day Activities - Continue sidewalk work; New playground toys set; Mow and weed eat; Grass and clean up Marion Avenue; Work on roads for paving; Garbage and recyclables; Opened beach; Rake dirt section Elm Lake Rd.; Bear with base set; Road side mowing complete.
Next 30 days Planned Activities - Continue sidewalk work [topsoil, item 4 etc.];
Mow and weed eat; Continue preparing roads for paving; Garbage and recyclables; Haul crusher run to Wells to replace what we used for Shuttleworth Road; Rake dirt section Elm Lake Road; Wood chips at playground; Guardrails on Marion Avenue.
CHIPS Planned Activities next 6-months: Order replacement culverts; Get Marion Avenue culvert in and pave; Dig out rocks and check culverts; Chip seal Shuttleworth Road; Pave Marion Avenue and Elliott Lane; 5500 truck has been ordered; Install guardrails on Marion Avenue; Haul item 4 for roads as needed.
Additional commentary was made as follows: Bear cans have been placed; one plastic can is at the entrance to the pavilion and the steel can is at the bottom of the sidewalk next to the Kiosk. To date, the bear problem has been mild when compared to past years.
Woodchips from the Speculator burn pit will be sifted and placed under all playground equipment six feet tall.
Crystal O’Brien presented the transition report.
O’Brien commented that most lifeguards in prior years were in college and had to leave by mid-August for school. She will try to spark interest among high school students to support a longer beach season.
LED Street Lights: Mayor Barrett was informed by Jessica Waldorf (NYPA) that there are 8 communities in Fulton County, of comparable size to Speculator, that are working as a group for bidding purposes and recommended we be included.  Their plans are to “break ground” in Spring 2020 which would be in line with our timing, should the board decide to progress.  The finance committee will continue to crunch the numbers and remain engaged with NYPA. The board will be appraised and engaged with the ramp up in activity early next year, culminating in final board decision to be taken in the Spring.
Kiosk: Mrs. O’Brien reported she, Mrs. Craven, and Mrs. Benkovich met to discuss engaging the 8th grade class to undertake the Kiosk as a class project. Mrs. Benkovich agreed to help with supplying any necessary information to the students on a by-weekly or weekly basis. After the meeting with Mrs. Benkovich, the Lake Pleasant Superintendent, Heather Philo, was contacted for her support and affirmed the idea. A meeting has been set for late September to discuss details of the project. Trustee Craven suggested the Village offer a “Community Service Award” for those 8th graders that participate.
The condition of the trees on Osborne Point was presented by Mayor Barrett
Trees on Osborne/Tunney Estimates.
RE: White pines on the point; Dead poplar trees south of the point along shoreline. Dead trees near electrical wires: northern border of the SVFD and Elm Lake Rd.
All contractors agreed that the middle pine is in immediate need of removal as it poses a danger to park dwellers with falling branches. Center of the tree is more than 50% dead. Tree closest to the lake is in better shape and may be made stronger with input from an arborist. Arborist being consulted, Dead poplar trees can be removed by the DPW in the winter, as per Blanchard. Contact National Grid for SVFD tree as it is close to electrical wires.
Kevin Elkin: Middle white pine is dangerous now. Center is dead, branches falling.
Removal of the middle pine treat may take out the river birch trees and small white pine trees. Pine closest to the lake may be able to last another couple of years. Removal is not urgent.
Mats would be placed to minimize damage to the grass and park. Stumps would be left "as low as possible" to the ground. Removal to take place in the fall. Estimate $1,800/tree.
Tom Germain: 5-man crew required {if he can find them). Suggests that the stumps be removed using kerosene and burn them out over the course of 1-2 days. Removal to take place in the fall. Estimate has not been provided.
Gary Bureau: The middle pine is dangerous now with dead branches falling and ricocheting down. Has a bucket truck and will be able to cut branches and lower them to the ground without damage to any other existing trees {birches and white pines). He suggests making a tabletop for the remaining stump. Blanchard confirms that this is something DPW can manufacture if needed. Estimate: $1500/tree.
Three bids were provided for the removal of one of the trees because it is more than 50% dead and poses a safety hazard.  Further discussion will take place after a DEC forester evaluates the condition of the trees on August 29.
Bob Benkovich raised the issue of Street Addressing and provided a 2016 Letter that had been distributed by Lake Pleasant to residents in the town and Village.  International Fire Code provides the specifics for posting street addresses, so they are visible for emergency vehicles. Benkovich noted many residents have not conformed to this code and there have been multiple ambulance calls where unmarked homes made it difficult for first responders.
Donecker noted that given the number of residents not currently complying, the Board consider making a public appeal followed by enforcement alternatives if necessary.  All agreed to discuss further at a future meeting.
Trustee McComb requested the word “improper” removed from the proposed resolution title, indicating the word had negative connotations. After a lengthy discussion, the Trustees agreed that although the word “improper” was factual, it would be removed to soften any perceived negative connotations.
Trustee McComb asked if the affected employee noticed the dependent’s name was on the insurance card. Trustee Craven explained the employee was given written notification from the former Clerk his dependent was not eligible for insurance after May 2013 when he turned 26. Since the employee’s dependent secured his own insurance through his employer and made zero claims to the Village insurance (he didn’t even know the Village was paying nearly $17,000 to purchase insurance for his dependent over this period of time), the employee had assumed the dependent’s name continuing to be listed on his insurance card was an error.
Trustee Rudes asked if the Village health insurance carrier could have reinstated without notice? Mayor Barrett had previously contacted the insurance company with that question and was informed dependents that were previously terminated for age were placed back on the insurance census, with the census being reviewed and certified by the former Village Clerk for each of the four subsequent years.
Barrett informed the Board the former employee has signed a release stating he would not pursue any legal action against the Village for this matter in exchange for a settlement of $3,000 to cover his taxes owed resulting from his dependent being included on Village insurance without his knowledge.
Trustee Donecker made a motion to accept the resolution, Trustee Craven seconded, and the motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Barrett provided an update on the Chamber of Commerce Bear and Wine Festival, to be held on October 5.
The event is designated under Farmer’s Market regulations.  Trustee Craven noted that only adults 21 years and older would be admitted into the Pavilion for tastings, however there are likely to be children attending with parents who should be able to stay together. The Chamber of Commerce will be asked to accommodate families for the event.
Barrett addressed increasing Attorney Katie Smith’s rate to 80% of her standard rate if there are billable hours exceeding the 5 hours/month covered by her retainer which has remained unchanged since 2009.  Her retainer will be increased in June 2020 to be in line with the Zoning officer and the Building Code Enforcer.
Art Brown commented that as a taxpayer, he took issue with the fact that the Board spent 20 minutes determining whether the word “improper” should or should not remain in the wording of the resolution and yet the Board spent no time whatsoever discussing the Village’s responsibility for the prior years of improper premium payments, and had not expressed any outrage over the fact that nearly $17,000 of the taxpayers money was wasted.
Barrett and Craven noted the matter is taken very seriously by this board and all efforts are being made to correct oversights in prior years. Both assured Brown that procedures and checks-and-balances have been implemented by the Mayor and Finance Committee to prevent this from happening again. Both also expressed their strong desire that future Mayors and Trustees would maintain these new procedures and strong governance oversight.

Editor Note: Story based on the minutes from Crystal O’Brien, Village Clerk - Treasurer

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