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State of New York
County of Fulton
Town of Caroga
Minutes of a Caroga Town Board work session on the budget held Wednesday October 3, 2018 at the municipal building located at 1840 State Highway #10 at 7:00 pm with the following persons in attendance by Roll Call:
Supervisor James K. Selmser – Here
Council Member John Glenn – Here
Council Member Jeremy Manning – Here
Council Member James Long – Here
Council Member Kent Kirch – Here
Other town department representatives in attendance were: Steve Putman – Highway Superintendent, Colleen Ricciardi, and Joanne Young – Budget Director. There were 6 members of the public in attendance.
Following the flag salute the supervisor stated last week a lot was accomplished. He hopes they can firm things up and pretty much complete the process tonight.
The public was invited to address the board.
Beth Morris thanked the board for their hard work. Last year there was a freeze in spending because they didn’t know the financial status of the town. She stated there are 3 people who work for the town who have 60 years of experience between them. The clerk has 20 years and deserves to be respected. She noted some people get paid to sit around and do nothing and collect a check for $450 a week – they wash their own vehicles and sit in hammocks. She regrets that she voted to have a boat wash station and thinks it will be a liability to the town. The board needs to be fair and show the people who have given so many years of service to the town appreciation and respect.
Joseph Capparella – went through the budget and sees that part time employees make out better than the full time ones. The assessor works 6 hours a week an average of 312 hours a year - she makes $78.00 per hour. The dude department makes from $20 to $30 an hour. Full time employees like Linda and Steve work tremendous amount of hours, have experience …. Linda is paid $32,000. That is $8,000 more than the bookkeeper that works a lot less hours. How is this justified? He suggested the Highway Superintendent and Clerk leave and come back as a temporary. He appreciates experience – and these people have it. He wants to take care of people who take care of him. He had a problem with his taxes while in S. Carolina. The Assessor gave away 5 ½ acres of his land to a neighbor and he called Linda and she strengthened it out. He wishes he could say he appreciates all the board and supervisor do for years to come.
Shirley Holliday stated across the street is a waste of money. She never sees any cars there.
Council Member Glenn stated at the last budget meeting a week ago there were some frivolous things said they were not meant to be malicious. He wanted to reach out and apologize to Gene Centi on the part of the board.
Colleen Ricciardi wants to keep good help and it is hard to do at $8.75 per hour. That is way below the minimum. She understands that municipalities don’t have to adhere to the minimum wage law. Ms. Ricciardi suggested a salary of $10.00 per hour. The youth staff has not had a raise. She has one that is new, but she works at the school and the kids are familiar with her. The budget director stated the salaries were set at the reorganizational meeting. The clerk stated they were voted on just before the program started. Supervisor Selmser thought they should be paid minimum wage $10.40 per hour and stated it is going up to $11.10. The budget director stated it is a 6 week program with 3 -4 counselor at 40 hours a week. The board and Youth Director corrected her stating they work 25 hours a week. Supervisor Selmser wondered if they could find any money under the supplies line item. Line item A7180.1 was increased to $22,000.00. The Budget Director stated the town is reimbursed ½ of what is spent from the Wheelerville School.
Council Member Long stated the town was getting 100% reimbursement on the boat wash station from a grant. We have to commit to spending money before we can apply for the grant. We would hope we would receive grant money next year.
The bus driver is being paid $14.00 and works a minimum of 3 hours. An increase to $16.00 was asked for. She drives on field trip days once a week and also up to Pine Lake. The youth reimbursement is shown on page 15 under line A2705. The Year-To-Date on the budget shows the donations to the youth program.
One question the supervisor has is about the lake stewards and the boat washing revenue in 2019. Cathy McGlynn the invasive species coordinator in Albany has stated it is very, very likely to be another opening for grant funding in December. It is not known what area the funding will be targeted for. It is not likely to be for remediation. It is likely that it is going to be targeted toward prevention and education. We won’t know until after the state budget is passed in April. There is a meeting set up with Cathy McGlynn for November 2 here at town hall at 10 am.
The multi-year grant is ending this year. Mike Durkee and Marcus Harazin work for free. Mr. Durkee is retiring and suggested the town would have to pay someone to do some of what he has done. Last year the board decided the weeds were enemy #1 and put a significant amount of money into the program. We need to make sure we tighten up our strings.
The board looked at page 15 for the revenue from the reimbursement from the grant of the lake steward. The budget director did not put anything in for 2019.
Back to youth Ms. Ricciardi noted the person who was going to be the aquatics director was not a good fit. Adam Wilson would be returning for a third year. He makes $8.75 as a lifeguard/counselor they could have increased the salary this year. The supervisor noted the rates can be changed next year. A rate of $11.50 was suggested. Jessica was paid $350 by the town to take the certification. It was thought she would be here more than one year. Supervisor Selmser suggested reimbursing Adam next year making sure he comes back.
Lake Stewards – there is the expense but not the money to offset it. Supervisor Selmser did not know if we would be doing everything we were doing this year. He would like to forecast some revenue. Council Member Long noted the need to encumber the expense. He thinks and hopes we will get grant money. “If we don’t the only thing that stands between us and disaster for our lakes are those boat wash stations and stewards.” They have caught a number of invasive species.
Council Member Kirch stated if we don’t get the grant we can look at cutting back on some of the hours. They are open during the week all the time. Mr. Durkee told Council Member Glenn he could wean the hours down. Council Member Long stated it would be with some risk. Council Member Manning noted the cost to eradicate invasives from the lake. The best bet is prevention vs mitigation. Council Member Kirch stated we may have to cut somewhere else to make room for this.
The Budget Director gave the board information from CDPHP. There is an increase of .02%. There is not a huge increase in the basic monthly premium. She stated they are going up $3.50. The supervisor put together a spread sheet showing the year to date expenses and what the 2019 budget is. We would still be under budget by $40,000.00. To date the town has paid out $38,205.00 of $70,000 from the HRA. There is a little bit of reserve. The company needs a document signed for next year. The rates go into effect December 1st. Council Member Glenn asked if the contract was for 3 years. It was noted this is an annual contract. Council Member Kirch wanted to sign the contract at the monthly board meeting.
The supervisor had a question for the budget director on her calculations, the 2% is based on the total levy that we can have. The front page of the budget was examined. The amount to be raised by taxes is $895,278.00. We could go to a maximum of $917,000.00. This version of the tentative budget reflects all changes from the last meeting.
Council Member Long asked if there was a question on if the assessed value was correct. The Budget Director stated she got the numbers from the real property office. They are subject to change. Supervisor Selmser can’t match the numbers coming from the state. He will meet with the county tomorrow to see where last year’s number came from. The rate used last year was a higher number. That could affect the tax rate.
Supervisor Selmser gave the board 6 pages containing bank balance information and projections.
As of 9/30/18 there is $294,441.13 he estimates the balance at the end of December to be $242,000.00. Page 2 shows the general fund money market it has a balance of $526.057.90. Below is the capitol reserve at $55,009.82. Council Member Long noted the low interest rates being earned on the money market account. NBT has the worst interest rates. The supervisor thought he might shop around next year. Page three shows the transactions that go into the account from charge cards at the golf course. At the end of September there is $67,869.78. The Budget Director stated the number will go down as the town owes Mr. Jennings the portion of the credit card sales that are his.
The supervisor is planning to use $250,000 for the fund balance. Pages 4 & 5 shows there is $168,358.34 in the highway fund. CHIPS reimbursement is expected to be about $37,000.00. In December there are expenses for unused sick time, and retirement. The expected fund balance at the end of December would be $16,531.00. The highway money market at the end of December is projected to have a balance of $177,411.00.
Page 6 shows the general fund – Fire. The amount to be raised by taxes is $0.860846066 (per thousand) the cover of the budget sheet list the 2019 rate at $0.87. The budget director suggested moving the one cent to the highway line making it $3.88. The board didn’t move forward with this. Supervisor Selmser wanted to discuss some payroll information. He believed there was a couple of issues and suggested going into executive session to deal with personnel issues.
At 7:52 pm Council Member Long made a motion to “enter into an executive session to discuss some personnel issues.” Council Member Kirch asked if there was any more business to be finished off while people are here. Supervisor Selmser stated this was “the only unknown what our desire is…and how to handle that. I think it can be factored in. Once that is decided then we can see if there’s some adjustment in the tax rates or moving some of the fund balance information around.” Council Member Glenn seconded the motion. All board members were in favor of the motion.
At 8:31 pm Council Member Long made a motion to exit from the executive session. Council Member Glenn seconded the motion. All board members were in favor of the motion.
Supervisor Selmser stated, “The personnel issue regarding the weed program do we want to make some salary changes there?” Council Member Long stated the steward’s coordinator is retiring. They hope he can be replaced for $2,000.00. That amount was placed on A8090.4.
Council Member Long just learned in executive session that the weed director quit. The board wanted to lure him back and didn’t think $2,000.00 was going to do it. Supervisor Selmser compared the job to Dog Control or BTI. Mr. Putman was asked to evaluate the level of manual labor of the other positions mentioned to the weed harvester coordinator. He stated BTI was more strenuous. Council Member Manning interject, they go places no one ever sees. Mr. Putman noted the snowy conditions they sometimes work in. Council Member Glenn noted the water temperature and windy conditions on the lake.
Council Member Manning wanted to have the discussion with the weed director.
Supervisor Selmser wanted to know where we stand on the budget before getting into payroll areas. The Board discussed/bantered this about and now will do it in public session. Council Member Kirch stated some back ground information - there were no increases for any positions last year with the exception of the court positions. The board wanted to take that into consideration when considering this year’s increases. The other item the board discussed was other towns and employees.
Council Member Kirch proposed the board consider for those positions that did not receive increases by offering salaried positions 3%. Except those that got adjustments or other forms of compensation, or under contract like the highway dept.
All salaried positions including elected 3% increase with exception of those differently compensated that would be precluded from this. There is a question on the Assessor. They need to see the contract. If the contract is compensation she would be excluded from this otherwise she will be included. Also previously discussed was the bookkeeper position due to the fact that medical benefits were provided at request that this position would be excluded too.
Council Member Kirch stated, “We also discussed keeping this in line for next year too because people missed a whole year of increases and we may want to go at 3% next year to get back to where we should be.” Supervisors Selmser asked, “So the remainder positions will be at 2% or 3%? Council Member Kirch responded “we said all salary positions except those two just discussed would be 3% and then 2% for the court position since they did get an increase last year so they get a small increase.
Supervisors Selmser stated will do some calculations on the effect on that and factor that into the budget. We will have that available for our next meeting. And that should take us to a tentative budget at that time.
Supervisors Selmser asked if Mr. Manning wanted to discuss that. Council Member Manning stated he talked to Stephen today about the Trail. He will be seeking $75,000 out right from the state as a no match grant for trail building. That would be a revenue stream that was coming in from the state. It would be something that we would not be expending unless we received that matching grant. He would assume we need that line item in there. His goal would be to go all out and do a full grant application to DEC Smart Growth for the project they have already funded us for. If we get funded we get funded if we don't we don't spend any money on it. Council Member Long asked if we put in the anticipated grant and the expense. Council Member Manning stated you put in both.
Highway Superintendent Putman had a question. He asked if the % increase was for elected officials like the clerk and himself. The response was yes. He asked the board if they were going to converse with us at all about this tonight. He asked the board to show us some respect and talk to us about our positions instead of comparing us to other towns. The Town Clerk stated that the other department heads we're talk to by the board.
Mr. Putman stated this was not right. He also stated he was tired of being butted in on when he was talking, that's disrespectful. The other night Mr. Putman noted on his line-item he took a hit for $1,000 on his signs. He asked the board before he left if they needed him to discuss any more line items. He recalls a discussion that the board and the highway superintendent whoever it may be that this is not to go on unless that person is there. He asked the board to work with us. No one said anything, yet everyone else gets exactly what they asked for but you didn't ask us or discuss this with us.
Mr. Putman reminded them of the work he did for the board down there on the well. He got the town through that and he saved the board thousands. He also saves the town money when work had to be done on the sewer system at Town Hall. He resents the fact that no board members have come to him and discuss this. Mr. Putman noted that he doesn't take the insurance or retirement from the town. Mr. Putman got an employee with lots of knowledge to come and work for the town without taking benefits. How much is that saving you? The employee does not get paid for taking days off he's not salaried.
Council Member Kirch responded this is his first time going through the process. That's one excuse and it has been his experience you don't typically discuss increases like what an employee wants for an increase before you decide on it. You usually explain to them after the fact here's your increase here's you how you got this increase and how we came to this amount. It was stated that this is how it's been done in the past. Council Member Kirsch continued saying the two of you are elected officials you knew what the pay was when you came in. He stated we all give more we have to in terms of our time. Mr. Putman stated if you look at these positions as a highway superintendent what do I have to do. He stated he could be a no-show. There are guys like that out there in this County. He is there every morning, every night, and every day with them. You cannot compare that stuff. He stated he did not come into this job for the money. He came in because he couldn't stand to see what was going on with the money that was going through this town. He took control of the situation that was way out of control.
Council Member Kirch stated he thought both of us did a good job. There is nothing in what we talked about tonight or decided that is saying anything to the contrary. In a government environment you can't say he saved us $10,000 so we're giving him $10,000. Mr. Putman asked for the courtesy to come and talk to us ahead of time.
Mr. Putman wanted to present to the board tonight an idea for future new Highway Superintendents coming in. They should start at a base salary. There is a learning curve on this job. Sometimes these positions are voted on like a popularity contest unfortunately and you end up with somebody who doesn't know about the job. This year is not an election year it would be a good time to set a beginning rate of $35,000.
Council Member Kirch did not understand how this deals with a budget which is what we're dealing with tonight. Council Member Kirch stated he's never had anybody complain about getting a 3% increase. That's why he's confused. Lastly Mr. Putman wanted the board to know that he has saved the town another $10,000 to $15000.00. He has a lead on a sander for the new truck.
Supervisors Selmser stated they tried to step up and be equitable as a town similar to what the county does for their non-elected non-union employees. It is usually a rate so it is equitable versus performance-driven assessment measurement that way. We've never done that here and that's our choice. Mr. Putman stated there needs to be open dialogue. He wishes that Council Member Manning had contacted him about policy for heavy equipment on the roadway. He tried to contact him but got no response. Mr. Putman stated he should have called his clerk she can track me down. The supervisor agreed we need to work together.
The clerk stated that she works with this board and she has worked with previous boards. “I do not understand the difference the difference between elected employee and non-elected employees, or a union employee or non-union employee. I'm going to do the same job whether I'm elected or appointed it doesn't make a darn bit of difference.” As far as the salary comparison sheet that the town supervisor put together and handed out this evening. “I would like to know how many years of experience do each of these other clerks from the Town of Johnstown, the Town of Mayfield, and the Town of Perth have under their belts.” The supervisor responded he had no idea. So the comparison really doesn't hold water. How many hours do these clerks put in towards their retirement? Supervisor Selmser stated the Town of Johnstown is listed at 35 hours a week. The clerk asked how many deputies does the Town the Johnstown clerk have. Supervisor Selmser responded at least one. He did not have the particulars of how many hours that Deputy worked. Other responsibilities were discussed. Mrs. Gilbert noted that when the tax collection job was combined she gets 1% for Clerk and 1% for the tax collection position. It's not 2% for each position. Council Member Kirch stated the board is offering a 3% increase on every stipend the clerk receives.
As a resident Mrs. Gilbert stated she objects to part-time employees getting the same percentage increase as full-time employees. She stated that employees who work 6 hours or 12 hours a week get the same increase percentage-wise as somebody who puts in more hours. The board members stated this was apples and oranges again. They are different jobs. She agreed that the jobs were different and that the others don't have 20 years of experience. “When I am out of the office for a day it takes me 3 hours to get up to speed and catch up on what's been going on so that I am on top of the pulse of this community.” I don't take a lot of time off I don't get paid for sick time. “In 20 years I've taken less than 10 sick days.” I don’t understand why some people get a pie in the sky salary of 40 some dollars and hour. How do you justify that to the taxpayers?
Council Member Manning stated we have to get somebody in that position, people who have the expertise and skill sets. He stated it is very different. The clerk asked the board to consider using a payroll service and bill pay service. They should compare to see how much that would cost yearly. Then the board could fairly judge equally what people are being paid. Supervisor Selmser stated there is very little savings; they're still a lot of labor on some information that has to be processed. She asked for the numbers. He was drawing from prior history. Council Member Long stated he was a businessman for 40 years and he farmed out payroll but was still doing a lot of work on the health-care or pension part. Council Member Kirch wondered if any towns were doing this it was thought that Broadalbin or Johnstown uses a payroll service. The bookkeeper stated that the Town of Manheim did try to go over to paychecks and they were not happy with that service and went back to in-house. It was noted that the town has recently purchased a program that does all of the accounting.
The clerk stated that benefits need to be defined for part-time employees. You said you were going to look into it last year. How much vacation and sick time do part-time 6 hours a week employees get? Council Member Kirch agreed that that was a fair question. Supervisors Selmser stated in looking at the information from three or four of the other towns some of them do have a resolution addressing personal time vacation and even longevity. The clerk stated that she does a multitude of jobs that the board never sees day in and day out she does work for the golf course for the BTI Department, the boat wash station. People come into her at the end of the year and say you do an invaluable job we don't know what we do without you. Maybe I should leave because that's the only way you get treated fairly in this town. I feel very slighted, abused, and discriminated against. It is highly unfair. Mr. Putman asked if the increases would go to his secretary and number two man. It was included Council Member Kirch stated.
It is 9:06 p.m. and Mr. Putman leaves.
Joyce Barrett asked when you put a salary up does that put up workman's compensation and other benefits. Council Member Long responded none of those things not Medicare, not FICA, not Social Security, not unemployment insurance, not workers compensation, not health insurance, these are bare numbers. He would prefer that they were a definitive and covered cost that we would budget on line items. When he went to training in January the Comptroller stated sometimes budgeting has encumbered everything on the line cost. He would recommend that.
The clerk supplied the board with a spreadsheet showing her various paid jobs stipends, hours worked, and insurance. For an 8 hour day she makes $18.69 including her health benefit.
Council Member Long stated his hourly rate is not all that high. Council Member Kirch asked who set the clerk's hours. I responded that last year I tried to reduce the hours and the public was outraged it was tax time. They were down in the supervisor’s office. The clerk noted the hours she puts in are the hours to do the job. His point was that I decide the hours. He thought the clerk should figure out ways to work less hours. He also strongly advised that the word discrimination not be used unless it's really meant. Council Member Long stated it has legal connotations, and Supervisors Selmser noted it's on the record.
The clerk stated she can shut down the building on Fridays if the board liked and then they'll be nobody available to take building permits or phone calls if that's what they would like to happen or maybe do it on a day when Joanne is here if the board thought that was better to serve the public. Council Member Long stated the voters decide. The clerk responded that's exactly her point. The clerk asked how she could do less because this is what the voters have expected for 20 years. The bookkeeper noted that in Oppenheim the job is part-time because the clerk has a full-time job. Council Member Kirch stated that the clerk could reduce the hours by cutting back on the extra jobs for which she collects a stipend for and somebody else could be paid to do those jobs.
The clerk noted the number of meetings the Town of Caroga has yearly. Council Member Manning stated last year we had 37 meetings. This year we've cut that significantly. Supervisor Selmser stated we could be more efficient and provide services online. Council Member Manning stated perhaps a stipend could be given if there are more than two meetings per month. The clerk stated this should be checked with the Association of Towns.
Council Member Kirch Stated that he talked to John in the Code Department today so he could better understand what his budget request was. Mr. Duesler stated he could not make more than $30,000 due to his pension benefit. He would like the code assistant position listed under the code clerk line. The budget director suggested splitting the line again; $10,000 was to be put on the code enforcement assistant line item to be created.
Supervisors Selmser stated he had some communication over the past few days with CT male and DEC regarding the landfill testing. He stated there are a couple of other tests that were normally done. He found out they were not done. CT Male will send us a quote and we may need to do four tests a year in 2019. We have already approached them about getting that number reduced in the future. The supervisor stated that the ball was dropped after he left. The fees would be for the annual inspection for the landfill and explosive gas monitoring. On page 11 the line item A8160.41 landfill testing was increased to $9,000.
The Budget Director stated the only thing she hasn’t heard discussed was on page 13 for 2019 was the transfers to the Capital fund, the Weed Harvester Reserve, and for the Garbage Truck. Based on what has been added on tonight. Supervisors Selmser wanted to make sure there were adequate funds in the general fund. The Budget directors noted if we are looking to cover the highway fund you don't have as much in the general you might have to have a transfer. The Budget Director stated we were looking at $235,000 for fund balance to use in the highway and we didn't make any changes in that today. The one thing to look at which reserves the board wants to fund and that really hasn't been discussed. Supervisors Selmser didn't want to do any more for 2018 and thought we could make the decision in December. Based on the numbers presented the Budget Director didn't think we were going to have an extra fifty thousand to set into a capital reserve and have any type of cash on hand until the taxes come in. She asked the board how much of the budget do they want to be untouchable and how much do they want in cash on hand.
Line item A8090.12 was reduced by $2,000. Council Member Kirch stated when he was talking to Mr. Duesler this morning he noted his revenues year-to-date we're at about $13,000. Council Member Kirch thought this number by the end of the year would be about $18 or $20,000 he thought it would be safe to move it up to $15,000 so we have a little more money to work with. Line item A2555 was increased to $15,000.
Supervisors Selmser stated to answer the Budget Directors question he thought we would have adequate funds to cover the amounts from the fund balance. “We’re going to have close to $600,000 extra.” He thought we were in good shape. He thinks we will come in under the tax cap.
One other minor thing Supervisor Selmser stated he gave copies to the board on information he received from National Grid.
Council Member Manning wanted to go back to the trail grant. A line item will go in for $75,000. A new line recreational trail, A7145.4 was created. The revenue side would be listed under state aid on page 15.
The supervisor passed around a document for his signature. He believes it to be boiler plate from National Grid. He sent it to a representative from New York Power Authority. She works for the Public Service Commission. He made her aware that we received this document. Council Member Long wanted to make a motion tonight. Council Member Kirch and other board members wanted to read the document. Council Member Kirch also suggested having the attorney review this document. Basically it says is if we take the money we cannot take legal action, forever, against them. The supervisor stated he will scan it and send it out tomorrow.
At 9:37 pm Council Member Long made a motion to adjourn. Council Member Kirch seconded the motion all board members were in favor of the motion.
Linda M. Gilbert, RMC, CMC
Copyright © James McMartin Long 2017–2021