Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Speculator seeks to save on health insurance

 Speculator VB October 13 2020

Speculator seeks to save on health insurance 


SPECULATOR—When the Speculator Village Board of Trustees met on October 13, it looked at ways to save on its medical insurance plan.

The total cost to renew the current medical plan is $89,450.16. Additional high deductible plans were reviewed. The village would pay the deductible and the employee would be responsible for copays after the deductible was met. This would provide a significant savings for the employee as their out of pocket costs would be about half of what they are paying with the current plan.

Mayor Jeannette Barrett presented an attachment outlining the EPO Gold 2 HDHP which is a National plan and HMO Gold 2 HDHP HMO plan. After some discussion for clarity on the differences, advantages and total costs of the two plans, the board decided to switch our current plan for HMO Gold 2 Plan with high deductibles that results in a savings of $8,345.88 over the renewal of the current plan.

Trustee Rebecca Smith made a motion to accept HMO God 2 Health Care Plan with high deductibles to replace the current plan. Trustee Mark Donecker second and the motion was passed by the vote: aye – Barrett, Crary, Donecker, Rumsey and Smith; nay – none


Edward Scharpou, WWTP Chief Operator, submitted a written report. Additional commentary was made as follows:


Service is complete for a property on Oak Mountain Drive and is ready for use.

Pump #1 at the Well Building has a new solenoid valve was installed and the pump is still not working. A new valve ship date is 11/20/20. Scharpou restated the fact that there is no impact on the Village water supply as there is still one functioning pump and noted the broken pump could be run manually if needed.

The hydrant at the Four Corners was taken out by a truck on 9/29/2020 at 7:45 p.m. but they have been unable to identify and locate the driver for insurance purposes. Mayor Barrett stated that the Village has not had insurance coverage on our hydrants since typically auto/truck insurance would cover these losses. Scharpou stated this will not be replaced this winter. After some discussion it was agreed there was sufficient coverage from the surrounding hydrants. Scharpou stated that we have two extra hydrants so that will not need to be purchased.

There is a leak in the Wolfe complex on Lakeview Drive. Scharpou stated we need to investigate who is responsible for maintaining the water lines. The 2” line is insufficient and has breaks a couple of times a year and this property has been brought up at previous board meetings for leaks.


SPDES and DMR have been completed for July.

Scharpou raised issues he has had regarding the testing of biosolids which needs to be complete prior to removal. The lab is going out of business and there are limited options. Rodman facility will no longer accept our biosolids; There is a possibility of a place in Johnstown which is used by the county, however, Scharpou will have to submit a request and have it approved by their board and noted that transport cannot take place once the biosolids are frozen. DEC has been contacted regarding holding the biosolids at the plant until Spring 2021.

Contract 2 of the Sewer Project is almost ready to go out to bid. Scharpou asked the Board to move forward with the bid solicitation process for Project #1 Contract #2. He stated that our Project Engineer, Brendon Becker, Lamont Engineering, has provided a summary of this request. The funds remaining from the total construction budget are more than sufficient to complete Contract #2. With the estimated costs of this contract, it is expected to expend most but not all of these funds.  There will be a determination as to what additional work/projects can be completed with the remaining funds, if any, after we receive the bids.

Mayor Barrett reminded the Board that Speculator is not immune to the financial impact on COTW, our businesses, residents, and visitors. Overall, water and sewer receipts have had a net decrease of nearly 20% at the present time due to COVID restrictions. The Mayor thanked Scharpou and commended him for his remarkable job in his management of the budget and limiting spending but noted that this can only last so long.

A Special Meeting was planned for Wednesday, October 28 at 3 p.m. to discuss different scenarios and planning to address water and sewer revenue while balancing the burden of rising costs on Village full-time and seasonal residents.

Mayor Barrett introduced a resolution to solicit bids for Contract #2. In this contract there will be upgrades/improvements to the headworks that will improve debris removal, increase sludge digester capacity, and provide improvements to the WWTP controls and automation. She requested authorization to solicit contractors who are able and willing to perform the construction of the WWTP upgrades as specified in Contract #2.

Trustee Cindy Rumsey made a motion to accept the resolution to solicit bids and review qualifications of contractors for the upgrades as specified in Contract #2 Trustee Donecker seconded and the motion passed by the vote: aye – Barrett, Crary, Donecker, Rumsey and Smith; nay – none.


Crystal O’Brien gave a verbal Clerk-Treasurer Report as follows:

We have received foreclosure notices from the County.

O’Brien will be attending the Introduction to Government Accounting School offered through NYS OSC for the remainder of the week.

O’Brien reminded the board they need to develop a plan for water/sewer deferred payment so we will have clear guidelines laid out if someone were to make that request. Mayor Barrett and Trustee Crary will meet to decide on a policy.

Financial report #4 is ready for review and approval for the next board meeting.

Trustee Crary made a motion to approve Abstract #9 in the amount of $25,625.81. Trustee Smith seconded and the motion was passed by the following vote: aye – Barrett, Crary, Donecker, Rumsey and Smith; nays – none.


In the COVID-19 update, Mayor Barrett reported there are 2 new case reported for Hamilton county over the past two weeks and the number of COVID cases have risen to 19 totals in Hamilton County. So far, no deaths have been reported for people living in Hamilton County. One of the new positive cases is in Speculator, but the subject immediately quarantined without exposure to the community. The other new case was in Indian Lake and was being aggressively monitored and managed by the Hamilton County Department of Public Health in cooperation with the Indian Lake Central School. So far, all tests have come back negative. Rapid COVID tests will be received by Public Health soon. Thirty-five states are on the New York list requiring quarantine upon arrival to New York.

The Department of Public Health has scheduled Flu Vaccine Clinics in the county. There was one this afternoon at the senior center. They are in the planning stages for conducting COVID vaccination clinics once a vaccine is available.

Roger Blanchard and Mayor Barrett met with FEMA and NYS DHSES representatives last week for our first on-site inspection of the park waterfront and beach. Mayor Barrett reported we are still waiting to hear feedback from FEMA as to the extent of the project costs and to discuss mitigation plans but she felt it was a positive and productive meeting and reported the funds we will receive should be sufficient to cover the damage.

A 15 ft. addition has been built on the cell tower by Verizon, however, nothing more will be done until next year due to the lack of an access road for Verizon to get needed equipment to the tower.

Streetlight inventory is still being collected for the LED Streetlights project.


One sealed bid was received and opened for the purchase of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) from Jerome Fire Equipment in the amount of $70,029.14. There are a limited number of suppliers. It is imperative that the new equipment be compatible with the existing systems. SVFD Chief, Matt O’Brien added that this county-wide grant will provide several departments with the same brand of SCBA and mask fittings can all be done by the same company.

Trustee Crary made a motion to accept the bid for the SCBA for Speculator Fire Department from Jerome Fire Equipment in the amount of $70,029.14. Trustee Smith seconded and the motion was passed by the vote: aye – Barrett, Crary, Rumsey and Smith; nay – none; Donecker abstained due to his son being an officer on the Fire Department.

A plan for the Memorial Benches is needed. Mayor Barrett provided details as to the cost and time put in to care for the memorial benches that were first placed approximately 10 years ago. Monies collected for the purchase and upkeep of the benches ran out last year and the Village has expended approximately $800 for repairs. The Village was also informed that Jerry’s woodshop is no longer able to repair the benches which they had been doing at a reduced rate. Several issues were identified: 1.  The Village expends a minimum of 80 hrs./year to place, pick up and store the memorial benches; 2. Funding for the repair of the Memorial Benches; and 3. Identify someone to repair the benches taking into consideration the cost of transporting the benches. The board needs to consider options in dealing with the benches as they continue to age, and repair costs will continue to rise. Mayor Barrett presented an option of approaching the sponsors of the memorial benches when their bench requires significant repairs to see if they are willing to cover the cost of their memorial bench. If they do not, then they would have the option of taking the bench as is, taking the plaque, or opting to have the bench recycled for parts. A list of donors and contact information would be required from the Beautification Committee. Neil McGovern, in an email to Mayor Barrett, said that he may know of a resource and we are waiting for that information. Any other suggestions from outside sources would be greatly appreciated. The Village cannot, by law, solicit funds for this purpose. Trustee Donecker commented that he does not feel the taxpayers should fund the benches. The Board agreed to wait one month to receive suggestions/proposals before deciding


The sidewalk paving is complete. DOT has paved the shoulder between the sidewalk and Rt 8. The paving of Black Bear Run and White Birch Lane have also been completed.

Trustee Rumsey mentioned that she spoke to Ryan Marshall who hoped the bid for the SCBA for the Speculator Fire Department would be approved and also mentioned he had not been contacted regarding a grant for an electric sign so he does not think we will be awarded one at this time.


Mitzi Fox reminded the board that one bench belongs to the Chamber of Commerce, although it is still collected and stored with the others. She also stated that she spoke with Mr. Blanchard about the possibility of the DPW working on the benches during the inclement weather this winter.

This article is based upon minutes provided by Tracy J. Marshall, Village Deputy Clerk-Treasurer.

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