Monday, May 11, 2020

Speculator VB April 13 2020

Speculator holds public hearing on budget
SPECULATOR at the April 13 meeting of the Speculator Village Board of Trustees, Trustee Letty Rudes made a motion to open the public hearing on the 2020-21 budget. Trustee Mark Donecker seconded, and the motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Jeannette Barrett summarized the 2020-21 budget, the highlights include no increase to property taxes this year, the redistribution of DPW personnel salaries based on averages calculated from the 2018-19 PERMA Payroll Audit, a 2% raise for all employees except water and sewer employees who will receive a $1/hr. raise per agreement made in 2018, water and sewer budgeted revenue has been re-estimated based on the number of users, average usage and the expected increase to the base rate this August, and water and sewer expenditures were greatly reduced to more closely reflect the budgeted revenues.
Matt O’Brien commented that, as both a resident and business owner in Speculator, he was appreciative of the Board for being able to have no raise in taxes this year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and having to hold the public meeting through video conference, all materials regarding the budget were to be available on the Village of Speculator website.
Trustee Karen McComb made a motion to close the public hearing. Trustee Rudes seconded and the motion was passed unanimously. Mayor Barrett closed the Public Hearing and opened the Regular Board meeting.
Ed Scharpou, WWTP Chief Operator, submitted a written report. Additional commentary was made as follows:
In the water department; first, they have been able to replace a 4” high/low flow meter at Camp of the Wood; second, Mr. Scharpou found that Pump #1 is not functioning at this time and plans to have someone come assess it to find the problem, but the hope is to wait to do any repair/replacement until June when it is budgeted; third, two breaks in the Wolfe complex have been fixed and with the amount of breaks this pipe has had, and the expectation that there will continue to be breaks in the future, the entire pipe should be replaced (ownership of the line will be confirmed); lastly, they will continue to maintain and check for water leaks and proceed with the annual cleaning and maintenance of the chlorine system.
In the Sewer department; first, the DEC WTC form and the annual withdrawal report have been completed and submitted ; second, daily operations at the sewer plant consisted of, replacement of clarifier #2, digester #2 and effluent tank #2 valves in the blower room took place while construction was in progress, cleaning of effluent tank #2 and removal of buildup of rags from digester #2, outside tank #2 is in operation while awaiting diffusers to replace those in Aeration #2 that are bad, pump #2 at pump station #2 had to be pulled because it was lodged with “flushable wipes,” and spring cleaning; third, once the weather begins to cooperate they will begin preventative measures on pump stations and continue to inspection of manholes; fourth, an update on Phase 1 of the upgrade project, at this time new drives have been replaced in both plants, concrete patchwork has been done to the tanks, the valves, bypass and check valve at pump station #1 have been completed, awaiting the delivery of the pumps for the final steps in contract #1. Originally there were going to be two more contracts, but Mr. Scharpou would like to combine this into one project which he has Lamont already working on. There was a question raised by Trustee Donecker as to whether this would speed up or slow down the project. This questions will be put to Mr. Scharpou. Lastly, the new SPEDES permit will go into effect May 1st, and at this time Mr. Scharpou is modifying his reporting to comply with the new limits.
Crystal O’Brien presented the Clerk Report. Additional commentary was made as follows:
NYCOM has planned several webinars for reference and guidance through the COVID-19 pandemic. Mrs. O’Brien attended the webinar on Open Meeting Law & Public Hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday April 10th and plans to attend the webinar on the postponement of the General Elections for March, April, and May. The webinar on Open Meeting Law and Public Hearings during the pandemic was very informative, it explained the specifics of the Governor’s Executive Order 202.1 and highlighted the facts that the executive order authorizes public bodies to meet remotely by conference call or similar service and explained that if a public body is restricting in-person access to its meeting or conducts a meeting remotely by conference call or similar service they must: 1) allow the public to view or listen to the meeting live, 2) the meeting must be recorded and transcribed and 3) the recording and the transcription need to be made available to the public. The webinar also explained that with the law on holding a public hearing, the public must be given reasonable, meaningful opportunity to be heard. Giving the public a reasonable opportunity to submit meaningful comment via online videoconferencing technology and in writing by email, local officials are likely to have a strong case should their actions be challenged, so allowing the public to comment by April 27 should be sufficient.
O’Brien and Mrs. Farina are wearing masks while at the village hall to comply with the governor’s recommendation to wear masks in a public building.
O’Brien and Mrs. Farina are waiting out the PAUSE NY and any future executive orders from Governor Cuomo, there are many projects at the Village Hall that can be completed, like organizing the storage room and filing cabinets in the waiting area, putting together the 5 year report of revenues for the water and sewer department and getting ready for summer activities.
Budget 2020-21 was to be approved on April 27 and the public was encouraged to review the documents on the website and remit any comments to the Mayor before then. As stated earlier, an article soliciting feedback on the budget will be submitted to the Hamilton County Express.
Mayor Barrett met with Scharpou, Lamont Engineers and representatives from FEMA and NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to review engineering reports, confirm information that was needed and find out what the next steps are for FEMA reimbursement for the Halloween Storm. The finalization and submission of spreadsheets for debris, emergency actions, contracting, management and donated resources was a big step in the process and is to be completed by April 25.
Mayor Barrett reported that Verizon has decided against having a master license agreement that addresses right of ways since the Village does not have any poles within Village right of ways. They have decided to do a site-specific agreement that has been reviewed by the lawyer, Mrs. Smith, and will be submitted tonight if there are no objections. After some discussion, no objections were raised Board members voiced objections.
We are awaiting the MWBE waiver to progress with the Makomis Fire Tower Project. Mayor Barrett was contacted by Laurie Rankin, who is the NY Director of Forest Lookout Association, to confirm a planned program by Marty Podskoch that was tentatively scheduled for June 30th. After some discussion on the longevity of the PAUSE NY, it was decided to reschedule that event for late August.
Despite reaching out to National Grid several time there is still no response on a buyout for LED Street Lights.
The Employee Handbook review will be postponed to the next regular board meeting.
Covid-19 Update: Mayor Barrett presented an update on COVID-19 in our area; there are presently three confirmed cases in Hamilton County. PAUSE NY has been extended to April 29 and a recent Executive order by Gov. Cuomo is to fly the flags at half-mast for the duration of the PAUSE NY. Procedures for the Primary Care in Speculator have been updated and posted to the website. The Village website is updated with notices on COVID-19 as we receive them. All essential employees in Speculator have been provided with masks and about 55-60 Fabric Masks were made by ladies in our community and distributed to seniors & infirmed residents, Charlie Johns employees, Sunrise employees, DPW, WWTP, Village office staff, employees at the state home, SVFD, children in our community and Dr. Parslow. A big thank you to Pat Sorbello, Lorie Whiting, Kelly Hayes, Kelly Toogood, and Marcia Beuhner for making these masks.
The SVFD was able to hold their annual elections for officers through a silent ballot and televote. Chief O’Brien and Mr. Marshall provided a letter to the Board for approval. Chief O’Brien was present to speak with the board about the Fire Department’s thinking behind their rotation of people and creating a deputy treasurer position. Having Mr. Underwood shadow Mr. Peck in his duties will prepare the Fire Department for when Mr. Peck retires. Additionally, Mr. Marshall is still committed to grant writing for the Fire Department and will keep the Village Board apprised of grants he is applying for and whether the Village will need to budget for any items.
Trustee Rudes made a motion to approve the slate of the Volunteer Fire Department Officers. Trustee McComb seconded and the motion was passed unanimously.
Mr. O’Brien  commented  on  the  PPP, paycheck  protection  plan,  and the  small  business  loan/grant that  are being offered, stating that he has applied for the small business loan about two weeks ago with no response and has contacted the bank regarding the PPP, and have been told that no bank is willing to take that risk right now.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment