Sunday, April 19, 2020

Wuhan Virus closes Speculator Village meetings to the public Budget ready to view

Speculator VB March 26 2020

Wuhan Virus closes Speculator Village meetings to the public
Budget ready to view
SPECULATOR—The Speculator Village Board of Trustees held a daytime meeting on March 26. Mayor Jeannette Barrett called the meeting to order at 2:45 p.m. and began the pledge of allegiance.
Due to the Wuhan China Virus (COVID-19 virus), the meeting was closed to the public, but the full meeting would be broadcast on Dackland Radio to remain compliant with Open Meeting Laws.
The board will be looking into meeting through Zoom® for future meetings.
Roger Blanchard, DPW Highway Superintendent, submitted a written report, presented by Trustee Mark Donecker.
Mayor Barrett reported on being contacted by garden club regarding the flower barrels that are set out on main street for the summer months. But due to the COVID-19 virus there will be no barrels put out this year, but the garden club will work hard on the existing gardens to make them even better than they are. Barrett said the DPW was able to cut down and clear the three dead trees at the point before the snow and ice melted and the Christmas tree at the four corners was removed.
Due to the COVID-19 virus, the DPW is following guidelines and procedures to help prevent the spread of the virus. Frequent hand washing, social distancing of 6 feet, working outside as much as possible, disinfecting surfaces, trucks, tools, and working alone when possible. If anyone has a fever or flu symptoms they are to go home and call their doctor. In addition, the DPW, WWTP and SVFD are also following the recommended protocols.
The Village Hall has been reduced to one person in the office at all times with office hours reduced to 9 am – 12 pm and by appointment only. With the upgrades to the computer system at the Village Hall, Clerk Treasurer Crystal O’Brien is fully operational at home.
O’Brien’s presented a verbal report stating: The NYS Retirement system Gold Certification, transitioning to Enhanced reporting, has now been completed.
The Village General Election, as everyone should be aware, is postponed until April 28.
She has spoken to Rebecca Riscito at NYCOM regarding absentee voters. Riscito responded that NYCOM was still waiting for further instruction from NYCOM on the timeline for the postponed Elections and they would be getting out that information as soon as possible.
The budget timeline is not affected by the PAUSE in New York State because we can still hold our Public Hearing for the budget through live broadcasting or live video with the ability for the public to comment. The Village planned to hold a Special Meeting on Monday, March 30 to present the tentative budget to the Board of Trustees.
A motion to enter executive session at 3 pm to video conference with Schopf Law regarding the notice of claim made by Moose Creek Holding LLC was made by Trustee McComb. Trustee Rudes seconded and the motion was passed unanimously.
A motion to exit executive session was made by Trustee McComb at 3:25pm. Trustee Donecker seconded and the motion was passed unanimously.
Trustee McComb had to leave the meeting at 3:30 pm due to a prior commitment. OLD BUSINESS
Mayor Barrett advised that we are awaiting finalization of the DEC contract for the Fire Tower grant, which will be reimbursing the down payment made for the Makomis Fire Tower by the Village.
The submission deadline for uploading information related to the Halloween Storm for FEMA will not be delayed by the COVID-19 virus, keeping the deadline date April 24, 2020. Mayor Barrett has been working with NYSDSHES and FEMA, as well as Village staff to complete the forms before the deadline. Part of these forms include delegation of time spent during emergency response, debris clean up and management time, which can all be reimbursed at 75% by FEMA. We are still waiting to learn if NYS will be contributing any emergency funds. In the past this has been 12.5%.
The MLA is with Verizon awaiting finalization
The Employee Handbook Review and Update has been postponed
National Grid has still not responded with a Buyout letter. Mayor Barrett will be following up in the next few weeks.
Mayor Barrett presented an update on the COVID 19 virus. The Village is complying with State Mandates for the pandemic as stated during the DPW monthly report. NYS has been approved as a FEMA Disaster and the kickoff meeting next week will determine if we are eligible for any relief funding. Mayor Barrett has been keeping the Board of Trustees and Village staff appraised of COVID-19 Public health and County updates, as well as information posted to our website for residents and visitors. O’Brien and the Website Developer have added a tab to the top the Village website for all COVID-19 updates and information.
There was a suggestion from an employee that we increase the compensation time limit under the current COVID-19 circumstances, to 80 hours from 40 hours. There were many of the Board members not willing to increase the compensation time limit because the employees are already given a generous amount of vacation, sick and personal time, and concerns over available coverage were raised.

This article is based upon minutes provided by Crystal O’Brien, Village Clerk Treasurer.

Press Release April 14, 2020
The Speculator Board Proposes a Zero Property Tax Increase Budget and seeks Public feedback on the proposed 2020/2021 budget.
The COVID-19 pandemic and PAUSE NY have made the budget process a challenging prospect, but Mayor Barrett and the Board are committed to transparency in this process.
The Board has taken a conservative management approach in the development of the budget. We have sought to improve efficiencies and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Last year’s budget increased property taxes less than 1.25%, well below the tax cap. Considering the current economic hardships, the Mayor and the Board are committed that the most prudent course of action to support our taxpayers and businesses was to not raise property taxes for this year’s budget.
As we all know, personnel costs are a major portion of municipality budgets, and the Village of Speculator is no exception. As a result, we focused on this area to accomplish our goal of not raising property taxes. Key actions include significantly lower office personnel costs, efficiencies resulting from our recent technology upgrades, lower health insurance costs with higher employee value and reducing temporary workers hours in the peak summer months. Rest assured, even with these reduced costs, we are committed to maintaining the excellent services we all have come to expect from the Village.
Water and Wastewater budgets were retooled so that the costs were reduced to more closely align with the revenues given that these department expenditures are required by law to be completely sustainable by their revenues. We are happy to confirm that the usage rate will not increase, and the base rate will not increase beyond the previously communicated planned adjustments necessary to fund the current plant upgrades.
The proposed budget is available for public review on the Village website (
The Board requests our residents to review the budget in the spirit of transparency and partnership.
Public comments are welcomed and may be submitted to the Board prior to the final approval on April 27 by using the Village website (
For more information contact Mayor Jeannette Barrett at Email:; Phone: 518-548-7354.

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