TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY
TOWN BOARD MEETING
MONDAY DECEMBER 14, 2020 7:00 PM
ROBERT YATES, SUPERVISOR PRESENT
DICK SENA, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
DUNCAN MCNEILL, COUNCILMAN ABSENT (ILLNESS)
LOUISE ORTMAN, COUNCILWOMAN PRESENT
STEVE SENSKE, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
OTHERS PRESENT: Howard Peacock, Justice; Dale Robbins, Attorney; Robin Miller, Bookkeeper; Brad Lawson, Zoning C.E.O.; Dan Strickland, Highway Superintendent; Clayton & Helen Emick; Mike Pfeil; Nancy Thomas, Town Clerk
- PLEDGE & MOMENT OF SILENCE
Mr. Yates asked for a moment of silence for our Military, Police and those affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. He also asked for prayers for Councilman Mac McNeill who is in hospital and his family.
- MINUTES: BUDGET HEARING 11/05/20 AND 11/9/2020
- MOTION # 116 OF 2020
- SENA MOTIONED TO ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE 11/05 AND 11/09/2020 MEETINGS AS SUBMITTED BY THE TOWN CLERK. MRS. ORTMAN SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- PUBLIC COMMENT:
- DUE TO COVID 19 AND UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE COURT WILL NOT BE HELD ON THURSDAY EVENINGS AS MANDATED BY THE NYS OFFICE OF COURT ADMINISTRATION
Mr. Peacock said the shutdown will be for at least 60 days, not just for North Harmony but for the entire County.
- DUE TO COVID 19 AND UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE THE TOWN CLERKS OFFICE WILL NOT BE OPEN ON THURSDAY EVENINGS
Mr. Yates said we will still be operating here at the offices; maintaining social distance and doing our best.
- CORRESPONDENCE: The following correspondence has been received by the Supervisor and is available for review:
- Association of Towns (AOT) 2021 Annual Meeting & Training School 14- 17, 2021. All-Virtual
Mr. Yates said he has the literature on this if anyone is interested.
Mr. Robbins said he had attended the AOT Conference in New York City as a Supervisor in the past and found the information and classes available to be very good.
- Todd Button, Chaut. Co. Finance – Sales Tax Report 12/7/20
Nov.-Jan. quarter 5% less than last year (QTD is now 5.33% less than last year
Sales tax update 12/14/20 indicates that QTD is now 5.21% less than last year.
- Assessor – October Property Transfers – Assessed Value $1,580,700.00; Sale Price $2,131,000.00 (+$550,300.00)
Appraisals on Town Properties
Mr. Yates said he has not heard anything back yet on appraisals for the town properties discussed at previous meetings. He said hopefully there will be some news before the end of December.
- OLD BUSINESS:
- Review Planning Board meeting held on the 12/8/20. Transient Rental discussion.
Mr. Yates said he, Mr. Robbins, and others had attended the 12/8/20 Planning Board meeting at which there was a review of the Transient Rental Law. He said he and Mr. Robbins have done some research on other local Town Laws regarding this and will be putting together an email for the PB to review at a future date. He said he would keep Mr. Lawson advised as well. He said he had spoken to Mr. Goodling, Planning Board Member and he felt that we should not create a law that we cannot enforce. He said more will be determined after the PB receives their information and has further discussion.
Mr. Sena said the dilemma is that people in the town are going to still do this and asked if maybe there are compromises or options to be sought before it is tabled indefinitely.
Mrs. Ortman said the original law started out as a need to get a handle on the rentals in the town:
1) where they are 2) who are owner’s/contact info in emergency, etc. She said it then comes into discussion that because you invite registration then you are in effect changing the zoning intent because you are tacitly allowing rentals at this point. She said she will be interested in what the other towns are doing.
Mr. Lawson said the original proposed law submitted to the Town Board by the Planning Board would in effect change the zoning to allow Transient Rentals by right in the R districts. He said that was the leading edge and the Planning Board had worked hard on the law. He said after that it expanded into the area of registration and through the public process. He said with the public, PB, and Town Boards input at the meetings he can better understand the resident’s issues. He said as the zoning is, if someone calls him and wants to build or turn something into a Transient Rental, the answer will be no because our zoning doesn’t allow it.
Mr. Yates said if anyone does build, etc. at this time they are in violation.
Mr. Lawson asked if we want to go with that as it will be complaint after complaint…it may not be, but he could see it happening.
Mr. Sena said Mr. Goodling had not been at the last PB meeting, but at the previous meeting his issue was with enforcement; i.e. why have a law that you can’t enforce?
Mr. Lawson said he had a lot of complaints last year. He said there have been years with several complaints that are mostly about the number of people; traffic; parking; etc. He said that all goes with the Transient Rental because you do get more people at times but that is also true of residents over holidays like 4th of July.
Mr. Yates said that happens; he has not had any calls from persons complaining they couldn’t rent their place out, but he has received calls about neighbors partying.
Mrs. Thomas said she feels many are concerned that people will purchase properties solely for the purpose of Transient Rentals as they are profitable.
There was further general discussion of the possible positive/negative effects of this type of law.
Mrs. Ortman noted that it also needs to be considered that tourism is a big industry in our area.
Mr. Lawson said if you go anywhere in the country where there are lakes and tourism, that is what it is. In amongst the rentals are residential homes as well.
Mr. Senske asked if you have to identify whether it is a primary residence, second home etc.
when you purchase a home.
Mr. Robbins said you might have to for a mortgage, but aside from that there is no reason for identifying a property use.
Mrs. Ortman said it should not be difficult to pick out a house in North Harmony and pretty quickly find out who owns that house and what their phone number is.
Mr. Pfeil said having the sewer project coming in is a prime opportunity to collect information as we are already getting information for easements, etc. He said that information should be available.
There was further discussion on sources for information available through the Town Clerk and Assessor’s office.
- NEW BUSINESS:
- Resolution for a new streetlight to be installed by National Grid at 3541 West Lake Rd. for the entrance to the Highway Dept.
Mr. Sena asked where the light would be located.
Mr. Strickland said it will be directly across the road from the highway building entrance. He said when the weather is bad it is very difficult for the drivers to see where to turn into the entrance because of poor visibility. He said there is already an existing pole there and they will just install the light.
Mrs. Thomas asked if he could provide her with the pole number and he agreed.
- MOTION/RESOLUTION # 117 OF 2020
- SENSKE MOTIONED TO ADOPT THE FOLLOWING RESOLUTION:
WHEREAS THE TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT IS IN NEED OF GREATER VISIBILITY FOR INGRESS AND EGRESS AT THE HIGHWAY BUILDING LOCATED AT 3539 WEST LAKE ROAD (RT. 394);
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE TOWN BOARD OF NORTH HARMONY AUTHORIZES AND REQUESTS THAT NATIONAL GRID INSTALL A POLE/STREETLIGHT AT POLE #287 (3541 Rt. 394) FOR VISIBILITY AND SAFETY OF HIGHWAY EMPLOYEES AND MOTORISTS.
MRS. ORTMAN SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION/RESOLUTION WAS CARRIED.
- Note an increase of $1,004.30 to NYMIR insurance policy -adding new location 5350 Stow Rd.
There was discussion that this would decrease some when the old building is empty.
Mr. Yates asked everyone to finish up with records removal, etc. by the end of January.
- YEAR END TOWN BOARD MEETING SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY 12/28/20 5:00 PM
- Schedule Organizational Meeting as soon as possible after the new year begins.
Mr. Yates said the 2021 Organizational meeting will be held at the 1/11/21 Town Board Meeting. There will be an opportunity to be sworn in/take oaths at that time.
ANNE GOLLEY, ASSESSOR
Mr. Yates read the Assessor report for those present.
TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY
In December, the office has been receiving back the renewals of the 2021 Aged exemptions, disability exemptions, and Agricultural exemptions. Along with existing property owners switching over from the Basic STAR exemption to an Enhanced STAR exemption.
We are still reviewing building permits and doing fieldwork for the 2021 Assessment Roll.
Thank you for your continued support of the Assessor’s Office. Have a wonderful Christmas!
HOWARD PEACOCK, JUSTICE
Mr. Peacock read the following report into the record. He asked the board what they wished to do with his old desk from the court. There was discussion that there are several desks from the old building that someone might want. It was discussed that they should be put on Facebook (Mrs. Emick will do that); Mrs. Thomas said she would put something on the website. Photos will be provided by Mr. Yates.
COURT REPORT FOR MONTH OF NOVEMBER 2020
December 14, 2020 Board Meeting
$34,485.00 in fines, fees, and surcharges was collected by the Court and given to the Town of North Harmony CFO for the court cases reported to the NYS Comptroller for November 2020. We opened 244 new cases and closed 206 cases.
In addition, the Office of Court Administration for New York State updated protocols for Town & Village Courts in the Eighth Judicial District, which took effect on December 9TH. These protocols include no trials or hearings in civil or criminal cases, no in-person appearances for desk appearance tickets (such as zoning issues), and there is to be no traffic court in-person appearances or calendars until further notice.
Should there be an in-person matter, (extremely rare and limited circumstance) proper social distancing, face coverings, and the court must provide proper PPE as required.
DAN STRICKLAND, HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT
Mr. Strickland provided the board with copies of a quote for a 4-year Lease proposal from Caterpillar for a new M318-07 excavator. He said the cost of the equipment is $251,777.00 (interest at 2.99%) and the yearly government lease payment would be $65,856.85 or $68,665.82 (with insurance). He said he had spoken to Lori Finn at M&T and she had indicated that was a good interest rate. He said this is a good way to purchase equipment when finances are tight. He explained that they currently have a 2011 Duson which is getting older and more difficult to find parts for and it is a good time to update. He said Caterpillar has a great service agreement that comes with an unlimited 3-year warranty that will cost approximately $1,000 per year extra. He said the excavator has a thumb and they will have to build a bracket on the front, but the mower deck will be attachable.
Mr. Sena asked what would happen to the Duson.
Mr. Strickland said he would probably put it on Auctions International because you do not have to accept a bid and he hopes it will bring around $60,000.00.
There was further general discussion of the excavator specifications.
Mr. Yates asked when the order had to be in.
Mr. Strickland said he is asking the board to authorize him to sign the quote and sales order agreement to get it ordered because that places you on the list and determines delivery. He said this does not lock us into the lease agreement and the full resolution of financing would follow.
Mr. Sena asked how much he has in his equipment budget.
Mr. Strickland said $70,000.00 and that is what he requested in anticipation of this purchase. He noted that while the program is a lease, the buyout at the end is $1.00.
- MOTION # 118 OF 2020
- SENA MOTIONED TO AUTHORIZE THE HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT TO SIGN A SALES ORDER WITH CATERPILLAR FOR THE LEASE/PURCHASE OF A NEW MODEL M318-07 EXCAVATOR. MRS. ORTMAN SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
Mr. Strickland said he had been working on a contingency plan for snow plowing this year due to the COVID pandemic. He gave scenarios: 1) if an M.E.O. got it and they were all exposed, he said they can’t stop plowing and his plan (excluding the COVID case) is to limit exposure to simply coming in; go to your truck; plow your route; and go home, as indicated for essential workers. 2) if they have to shut down a truck due to illness, he has devised a 3 truck route instead of the usual 4.
There was discussion of who could operate a plow in an emergency situation assuming someone had the qualifications. Mr. Robbins said if it is an emergency, it is one thing, but if it is just filling in, it is not a good idea as far as liability.
There was discussion and concern expressed about the safety of any employee working alone at night.
BRAD LAWSON, ZONING C.E.O. (Copy of Report in Minute Book)
Mr. Lawson reviewed his report for those present. He said a person in Ashville has been operating a pig farm and he has sent a zoning violation. There are homes in the process of being finished. He said the Leighton Homes building at Hadley Bay had a bad fire that has damaged 6-7 apartments in what was supposed to be a 2 family home. He said the building has been closed until the zoning and other issues have been resolved. He said thankfully no one was hurt but the situation is a mess.
JOHN STOW, DCO
Mr. Stow’s report indicated that he had two calls. In the first call both dogs were licensed and returned to the owners. The second call was a warning to license dogs.
NANCY THOMAS, TOWN CLERK (Copy of Report in Minute Book)
Mrs. Thomas said she has submitted disbursements for the month of November, 2020 to the Supervisor in the amount of $2,507.50 and also a check for 2020 Tax Collection penalties/interest in the amount of $5,845.00. She said her office is getting ready for Tax season and submitted to the Board an insert that will be placed in all outgoing tax bills this year. She said basically the insert requests that taxes be paid by mail or placed in the drop box outside in an effort to slow the spread of COVID. If payment must be made in cash, correct change and an appointment will be requested.
Mrs. Emick asked if there is a way of collecting phone numbers from tax bills in relation to the Transient Rental situation.
There was discussion and Mr. Robbins said he thought there was a rule that you cannot add anything to a tax bill.
- MOTION # 119 OF 2020
- SENA MOTIONED TO ACCEPT THE NOVEMBER, 2020 TOWN CLERKS REPORT AS SUBMITTED. MR. SENSKE SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
ROBERT YATES, SUPERVISOR (Copy of Report in Minute Book)
Mr. Yates reviewed the Supervisor’s Report for those present.
- MOTION # 120 OF 2020
- SENA MOTIONED TO ACCEPT THE NOVEMBER, 2020 SUPERVISORS REPORT AS SUBMITTED. MRS. ORTMAN SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
Mrs. Miller said she had discovered an error on the Supervisor’s Report for September and October. She said those are included in the documents provided to the board. She asked that the record reflect that those corrected pages be added to the Clerk’s respective minutes.
Mrs. Thomas requested that the changes be clarified with her after the meeting.
Mr. Yates said the numbers got carried over from September to October and the reason was there were 2 abstracts excluded.
- MOTION # 121 OF 2020
MRS. ORTMAN MOTIONED TO ACCEPT INTO THE RECORD THE CORRECTIONS TO THE SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER SUPERVISORS REPORT AS SUBMITTED BY THE BOOKKEEPER. MR. SENA SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- General Fund Vouchers; Highway Fund Vouchers; Capital Fund Vouchers
- MOTION # 122 OF 2020
- SENA MOTIONED TO AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF THE FOLLOWING VOUCHERS AS REVIEWED AND AUDITED EARLIER:
GENERAL FUND $36,477.25
HIGHWAY FUND $17,941.00
CAPITAL FUND $16,212.68
- SENSKE SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- Executive Session
- MOTION # 123 OF 2020
ON A MOTION MADE BY MR. SENA, SECONDED BY MR. SENSKE, AND NONE BEING OPPOSED, THE MEETING WAS ADJOURNED AT 8:10 PM.