TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY
TOWN BOARD MEETING
MONDAY 2/8/2021, 7:00 PM
SUPERVISOR, ROBERT YATES PRESENT
RICHARD SENA, COUNCIL PRESENT
LOUISE ORTMAN, COUNCIL PRESENT
STEVE SENSKE, COUNCIL PRESENT
OTHERS PRESENT: P.J. Wendel, County Executive; Dale Robbins & Kelly Johnson, Attorney’s; Dan Strickland, Highway Superintendent; Helen & Clayton Emick; Brad Lawson, Zoning C.E.O.; Robin Miller, Bookkeeper; Dan Thomas, Historian; Nancy Thomas, Town Clerk
- PLEDGE & Moment of Silence in Remembrance
- MINUTES: 1/11/2021
- MOTION # 15 OF 2021
MRS. ORTMAN MOTIONED TO ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE 1/11/2021 TOWN BOARD MEETING AS PRESENTED BY THE TOWN CLERK. MR. SENA SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- Southern Tier West Renewal and Class offerings Last Call!
Mr. Yates said there are some very good classes to attend and if anyone is interested to please let him know and he will help get them signed up. All classes are virtual.
- Ball Creek Stabilization Project Grant – Awarded $36,742.41
Mr. Yates said the Town has received notification from the CLWMA that we have been awarded a grant in the amount of $36,742.41 for the Ball Creek Project as submitted on 9/24/2020. He said we have one year to spend the funds. He said he had requested $120,000 for the project and although it was not enough to complete it, it is enough to get it started. He said one of the first areas to stabilize is the area by the County Road, but they are all important. He said by doing this he hopes NYS will look more favorably on the project when he requests further funding this summer.
- Herbicide Grant Funding
Mr. Yates said he has not received any breakdown from the CLWMA on the Herbicide map at this time but will advise the board when he does.
- NYSERDA’S Latest Clean Energy Communities Grant
Mr. Yates said he plans to attend the webinar on this in hopes of grant funding for solar for the town. Mrs. Thomas said she has further information on this available for review from John Meyer at STW.
She said the town already has 1000 credits accumulated toward this.
- Bookkeeper Robin Miller has again requested an audit of Town Books by the NYS Comptroller’s Office.
Mr. Yates said in light of recent local activities, Mrs. Miller has again requested an audit as we had done last year and the year before. He said nothing had been in writing from the Comptroller, but they had verbally stated there was no reason to perform one last year.
- PUBLIC COMMENT:
- J. WENDEL, COUNTY EXECUTIVE
Mr. Yates introduced Mr. Wendel and thanked him for coming to the meeting.
Mr. Wendel thanked the board for the invitation. He went on to speak about his plans since he took office in January, 2021. He said the major issue at this time is Covid 19. He said the County is doing everything in its power with the assistance of Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and other elected officials who have been very supportive, in dealing with this crisis and other related issues. He discussed that his safety plan template to reopen NY has been followed by the State. He said he feels that he brings a unique set of skills to the County because of his background as a teacher, fireman, EMT and Administrator. He said the Covid Team comprised of Christine Schuyler, Sheriff Quattrone, John Griffith, Emergency Services Director and 3 physicians have worked well together making decisions that are unanimous across the board. He said the major focus at this time is increased demand for the vaccine and not enough supply. He noted that our sales tax revenues have come in higher that what was adopted last year in the budget. He said those decisions netted a savings of about $1,500,000.00. He said the County is fiscally very sound. He said if the new package comes out from the Federal Government, we should be getting approximately $16,000,000 from NYSAC for Chautauqua County. He said that may allow things to go back into the budget that were taken out. He asked if anyone had any questions.
Q: It was asked if Mr. Wendel agrees with the recent PJ article from Legislator Chagnon about the County’s priorities at this time especially regarding solar power.
A: Mr. Wendel said everyone is focused on the South Ripley Solar Project which had started out as a massive project, but now only encompasses 12-1500 acres which is still a large amount. His position is that Chautauqua County is a Home Rule County and he feels it is up to the local communities and their elected officials to make these types of decisions. He said the County would provide guidance, etc., but go no further. He said his major concern is if you are looking at solar, you need to make sure that the company you are dealing with has a clear decommissioning plan (20-30 years).
Q: NYS requires the County pay $600,000.00 per week in Medicaid costs. Cathy Young had introduced 2 bills that would reduce that expenditure by 20% per year over the next 5 years. What happened to that?
A: Mr. Wendell said they did see a reduction in what is called Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for a savings this year of about 2.1 million in Medicaid payments to NYS. He said they are working through NYSAC to increase that FMAP funding to save more. He said people do not realize that NYS provides the Cadillac of Public Health Assistance with 28-32 different programs. He said they are working on getting legislation that would give the counties the decision on what plans are offered.
Q: Does the State owe the $610,000 state penalty due to Medicaid?
A: Mr. Wendell said he has heard nothing further about that.
Q: Why did it take so long for the County to get the bed tax agreement with Airbnb?
A: Mr. Wendel said Airbnb is relatively new and the language of the agreement is also new and required time to develop. He said the county has people who had been working very hard to manually look up that information and pursue that revenue. He said as far as other entities like Airbnb they are working on similar agreements.
Q: Why are we charged for Community Colleges on our property tax bill?
A: Mr. Wendel said that is a state mandate. He said the charge occurred when the City of Jamestown gave up sponsorship for JCC and that cost has fallen to the County. He said this has happened to many NY Counties.
Q: Isn’t the tax exempt real estate assessment in the County quite high (i.e. Ag exemptions; town, county, state lands; churches, etc.)?
A: Mr. Wendel said he believes the allowance of those exemptions is state law.
Q: Why did management level employees at the county receive a 3% pay increase during the Covid crisis?
A: Mr. Wendel said those managers having been working non-stop through the pandemic. He said there was not a single department head or manager who was not going above and beyond. He said the budget was actually less than 3%, but the legislature chose to increase it. He said he felt there was not one person who didn’t earn what they received this year.
There was discussion of the Real Property Tax foreclosures and the Tax Auction. The County is discussing having 2 different auctions this year.
Q: What is the county doing about opening more vaccination sites in Western NY?
A: Mr. Wendel said he has been in contact with the state and JCC is scheduled to be a NYS Mass Vaccination site. The only problem is there is no vaccine and everyone is dealing with this. He said the Governor has changed his plan to allow Local Health Departments to have more authority on the vaccines and what we can do. He said once the vaccine is available, the county has a good plan in place to make it available.
Mr. Senske thanked Mr. Wendel and said he felt the County was doing a very good job during a difficult situation.
Mr. Sena noted that the County Office of the Aging was very helpful in helping his parents and others over 65 get vaccination appointments. He also said he appreciates the radio spots that Christine Schuyler at the Department of Health has been giving for updates.
Mr. Yates thanked Mr. Wendel for taking the time to come and speak.
- Dan Thomas, Historian
Mr. Thomas said he has been working every Tuesday with Pam Brown at the Harmony/North Harmony Historical Society. He said there has been a lot of historical material from Art Thomas, Sally Carlson and others they have been sorting for retention determination. He said he has more to discuss related to what he is doing but felt it was better held for another time. He said he would recommend that the town discontinue keeping “scrap books”. He said the Historical Society web site provides a lot of this information and many things can be looked up on the PJ web site. He said the Historical Society has volunteer day every Tuesday and they could use some able bodied men to help with heavier work. He said the town’s historical records are all being moved there, but there are many that have been discovered during the move to the new building that will have to be handled. He said he, Rob, and Will Ortman have all been involved with the Sea Lion Project, Ltd. on the Ferry and noted that they have officially changed the name to the Bemus Point –Stow Ferry. He said they are planning to operate the Ferry this year and there will be a lot of people to thank for their hard work to make this happen.
- Ro Woodard made a request pertaining to Ferry Fundraising Events
Mr. Yates said the Ferry committee is planning a re-opening ceremony and fundraiser in May and he has received a letter requesting that the town give permission for them to use the park at the landing for a food truck or barbeque to help raise funds at the event. He said they had also requested to hold this every weekend for the summer and that would have to be discussed further by the board. He said maybe Bemus Point could also help.
Mrs. Thomas said that Chris Flanders has written a new Ferry Book that has been published and they would be interested in leaving copies at the town offices for people interested in purchasing it. She said she would be glad to do this if the board agrees. She also noted that the town still has quite a lot of the original Ferry Book by Art Thomas and asked if the town might consider donating 100 of the approximate 300 copies we have to them to raise funds for the Ferry. She said the town has already recouped the printing costs from the original.
- MOTION # 16 OF 2021
MRS. ORTMAN MOTIONED TO DONATE 100 COPIES OF A FERRY TALE TO THE BEMUS POINT – STOW FERRY FOR THE PURPOSE OF RAISING FUNDS FOR THE CONTINUED OPERATION OF THE FERRY. MR. SENA SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- Clayton Emick extended a Thank You to the Highwaymen for a good job plowing this season Also, the Boardman’s out on Rt. 33 and Donelson Rd.
- Court Security Agreement with Sheriff signed – $32.80/hr (last year $31.15/hr)
- Assessor – December Property Transfers – Assessed Value $832,100.00; Sale Price $974,000.00 (+$141,900.00)
There was discussion of a possible revaluation based on sales and this was briefly reviewed by Mr. Robbins and the board.
- Chautauqua County Finance – Statement of all funds paid to Town of North Harmony in 2020
- Congressman Reed’s Grant Opportunities Update
- OLD BUSINESS
- Sewer Update
Mr. Yates said the Town Clerk has been working with the S&SSLSD to get all the easements completed for the project. He said there is a list of about 50 easements that the Clerk is working on getting contact information on so that we can move forward.
- 2020 Year End Fund Transfers
Mrs. Miller read the following year end fund transfers into the record.
- MOTION # 17 OF 2021
MRS. ORTMAN MOTIONED TO ADOPT THE FOLLOWING 2020 YEAR END FUND TRANSFERS. MR. SENSKE SECONDED.
TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY YEAR END FUND TRANSFERS
Highway Fund Transfers:
From: To: Amount
DR5110.4 Maintenance Cont. DS 5142.4 Snow Removal Cont. $1,650.76
Total Highway Fund Transfers $1,650.76
General Fund Transfers:
From: To: Amount
A8810.4.2 Cemetery/Wild Rose A8810.4.4 Cemetery/Bly Hill $ 315.00
A1989.4 Contingency A1620.4 Building $ 260.42
A1989.4 Contingency A5132.4 Hwy Building $1,591.00
A5132.2 Hwy Bldg. Equipment A5132.4 Hwy Building $1,000.00
A1355.4 Assessor A1355.2 Assessor Equipment $ 29.02
Total General Fund Transfers $3,195.44
YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- AUDIT: Court Books; Town Clerk Books; Supervisor Books
Mr. Yates said he and Mr. Sena would be auditing the Court Books this Saturday. He said Mrs. Ortman and Mr. Senske have completed the audit of the Town Clerks Books and the Supervisors Books are ready for audit. Mrs. Ortman and Mr. Senske said they would review the Supervisor’s Books.
- MOTION # 18 OF 2021
MRS. ORTMAN MOTIONED FOR A SATISFACTORY CONCLUSION TO THE AUDIT OF THE TOWN CLERK’S 2019 AND 2020 BOOKS. MR. SENSKE SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- NEW BUSINESS:
- Charter/Spectrum – Cable Franchise Agreement (due for renewal in April 2021)
Mrs. Johnson said she has reviewed the contract presented and she feels there are a couple of items that need to be addressed before we move forward. She said the way this agreement is worded the fees the town would get 5% of are a lot less that previous contracts. It was noted that Spectrum has been building out in the area.
- Make a resolution for Highway Superintendent to sell at auction 1 SNOGO Blower. Also to add those funds into Highway Budget
Mr. Yates said Mr. Strickland would like to wait for a resolution on the allocation of those funds until they have an actual figure.
- MOTION # 19 OF 2021
- SENA MOTIONED TO AUTHORIZE THE HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT TO SELL AT AUCTION ONE SNOGO BLOWER. MR. SENSKE SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- Authorize Supervisor to sign Easement Agreement for Sewer Extension
- MOTION # 20 OF 2021
MRS. ORTMAN MOTIONED TO AUTHORIZE THE SUPERVISOR TO SIGN THE SOUTH AND CENTER CHAUTAUQUA LAKE SEWER DISTRICT (S&CCLSD) EASEMENT AGREEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE TOWN. MR. SENA SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- Asbestos Abatement – Mitchell Property
- MOTION # 21 OF 2021
- SENSKE MOTIONED TO AUTHORIZE THE SUPERVISOR TO ENTER INTO CONTRACT WITH H.H. RAUH IN THE AMOUNT OF $3,000.00 FOR ASBESTOS ABATEMENT/REMOVAL AT THE MITCHELL PROPERTY. FURTHER AUTHORIZING THE EXPENDITURE OF AN ADDITIONAL $525.00 FOR 3RD PARTY AIR MONITORING OF THE PROCESS. MRS. ORTMAN SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- Appraisals on Town Properties
Mr. Yates said he does not have all the appraisals in yet on the town properties. He said he does have some market analysis in from Century 21 and ERA but not Timberland Reality who will do an actual appraisal. He said he wants to get these done because the market is so strong at this time.
Mr. Robbins recommended he get an actual certified real estate appraisal. There was discussion of the permission referendum requirement to sell town property and how that works.
There was discussion about the demolition of the Mitchell house and what that will entail.
- Permits for Herbicide Application
Mr. Yates said a motion is needed for Mr. Sena to sign the Herbicide Application Permit forms.
- MOTION # 22 OF 2021
MRS. ORTMAN MOTIONED TO AUTHORIZE COUNCILMAN RICHARD SENA TO SIGN THE HERBICIDE APPLICATION PERMITS AND ALL OTHER DOCUMENTS NECESSARY TO MOVE FORWARD IN THIS PROCESS. MR. SENSKE SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- Dick Sena – Snow Totals
Mr. Sena said as of today we have had 84 inches of snow. He noted that in February 2020 we got 56 ½ inches.
PIERRE CHAGNON, LEGISLATOR
Mr. Chagnon’s report indicated the following occurred at the January Legislature meeting:
- So looking forward to being back with the town representatives again. I miss you all.
- As the County begins the new year many challenges still remain but continue to be dominated by COVID-19 impacts.
- The staff of the Department of Health and Human Services has done extraordinary work throughout this coronavirus pandemic. Those on the front lines are working overtime, evenings, weekends, and holidays. We have pulled and trained staff from every division to do COVID-19 response work. Staff is tapped out and is burning out. And in the midst of this the Mayville public drinking water emergency was the second in the County to be dealt with.
The County Legislature has authorized funding for additional positions in the Health Department, but filling those positions is a huge challenge as qualified candidates are almost entirely unavailable.
- The new District Attorney is very busy processing many of the enormous backlog of cases in his department.
- The County Executive has appointed Noel Guttman as the Director of the Office of Emergency Services replacing John Griffith as he retires. He faces enormous challenges in the sustainability of both the volunteer fire service and the emergency medical system. We have seen this recently in Bemus Point as the Bemus Point Volunteer Fire Department was forced to downgrade their level of EMS care from advanced life support to basic. The reason was simple as they no longer have members to respond who are credentialed to provide that type of care. Now the members of that community must rely on others to be there for advanced EMS care. Fortunately, the County has now implemented the fourth Fly Car into the system providing advanced life support.
- We have been interviewing the candidates for the position of Director of Real Property Tax Services and expect an appointment soon.
- Although sales tax receipts have been a pleasant surprise by exceeding our fears, the County is suffering from dramatically decreased collection of property taxes and occupancy taxes.
- Keep your seat belts fastened!
HOWARD PEACOCK, JUSTICE
Mr. Yates read Mr. Peacock’s report into the record.
COURT REPORT FOR MONTH OF JANUARY 2021
February 8, 2021 Board Meeting
$31,746.00 in fines, fees, and surcharges was collected by the Court and will be given to the Town of North Harmony CFO for the court cases reported to the NYS Comptroller for January 2021. We opened 224 new cases and closed 206 cases.
DAN STRICKLAND, HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT
Mr. Strickland said he covered his report earlier under New Business 2.
BRAD LAWSON, ZONING C.E.O. (Copy of Report in Minute Book)
Mr. Lawson reviewed his report for those present.
ANNE GOLLEY, ASSESSOR
TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY
In February we’re still busy with receiving exemption renewals, providing apportionments when needed, and continuing with our fieldwork for new construction and any demolitions.
As always, thank you for your continued support of the Assessor’s Office.
NANCY THOMAS, TOWN CLERK (Copy of Report in Minute Book)
Mrs. Thomas said tax collection has been very busy and today over $400,000.00 was collected. Of the warrant amount of $3,819,713.66 we have collected $3,250,257.57 with a balance unpaid of $569.456.09 (15%). Mrs. Thomas noted that the Warrant to the Supervisor has been satisfied in the amount of $1,138,075.77.
- MOTION # 23 OF 2021
- SENA MOTIONED TO ACCEPT THE TOWN CLERKS JANUARY 2021 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)
- MOTION # 24 OF 2021
- SENA MOTIONED TO ACCEPT THE SUPERVISORS JANUARY 2021 REPORT AS SUBMITTED. MRS. ORTMAN SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- General Fund Vouchers; Highway Fund Vouchers
- MOTION # 25 OF 2021
- SENA MOTIONED TO AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF THE FOLLOWING VOUCHERS AS REVIEWED AND AUDITED EARLIER:
GENERAL FUND $14,007.22
HIGHWAY FUND $27,664.69
- SENSKE SECONDED. YES (4): SENA, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- MOTION # 26 OF 2021
ON A MOTION MADE BY MR. SENA, SECONDED BY MR. YATES, AND NONE BEING OPPOSED, THE MEETING WAS ADJOURNED AT 8:33 PM.