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State of New York

County of Fulton

Town of Caroga

Minutes of the Caroga Town Board meeting held Monday October 5, 2020 at the municipal building located at 1840 State Highway #10 at 10:00 am with the following persons in attendance by roll call:

Supervisor Scott Horton - Here

Council Member John Glenn - Here

Council Member James Long - Here

Council Member Richard Sturgess - Absent

Council Member Donald Travis - Here

In attendance were the Bookkeeper/Budget Officer – Joanne Young and Gene Centi Weed Harvesting Coordinator and Chairman of the Parks, Lakes, Recreation, and Tourism Commission. Also in attendance were two members of the public virtually and one in person. Highway Superintendent Larry Voght has joined the meeting at 10:55.

Supervisor Horton stated he put together a budget that he thought was rather aggressive for many reasons. When he was running for office, he knew the town was borrowing from reserves and putting the town in a bad place. Revenue comes from various sources. The highway revenue comes from the state primarily and through taxes. The town budget comes primary from sales tax. As we found out this year the sales tax can go away in a hurry. It is risky to continue to rely heavily on sales taxes revenue to have a balanced budget. The town is also facing many challenges in the future. The sooner the board addresses the future challenges the easier it will be on the people’s tax obligation. It is expensive to run a highway department. He thought the town would be better off saving up for an expense you know you will have in the future. The expense of replacing the large trucks and Gradall should be budgeted for. The town also has to budget for capital expenses to town hall which is many years down the road. A town garage and salt shed expense will be sooner or later. A sewer system is also being worked on. Once the town has the final report the board will have a better idea of where we are going and how we can do it, if we can do it. Supervisor Horton sent to the board members a list of where funds were being increased and where he was saving funds. We have to get a clear message out to the public.

Council Member Glenn noted the cost to run the highway garage. There was a discussion with Larry Voght and the Supervisor concerning the intelligent way to turn over trucks. They discussed possibly leasing vehicles.

Council Member Long made a general comment that NYS Comptroller DiNapoli reminded boards that the tax rate per $1,000.00 is capped at the lesser of 2% and the inflation rate. The inflation rate published is 1.56%. “Over time assessed values even if we don’t reassess this town very regularly, over time, assessed values go up with property values, and property values as Professor Shiller of Yale has proven go up with inflation.” Supervisor Horton responded point well made.

Supervisor Horton stated the town tax rate was $1.00 in 2020, currently it is being proposed at $1.94 for 2021. If the town were fairly assessed the budget would be neutral. The Supervisor stated the tax cap can be over ridden. He did not know what the ramifications were on that.

Council Member Glenn asked how much money does the town have in the bank. The Bookkeeper/Budget Officer Joanne Young responded based off the 2019 audit that the town did for the state In the A account fund balance assigned/designated for something, in a reserve or set aside to offset taxes, the money is untouchable is $750,000.00. For the DA- Highway Account there is $52,000.00 unassigned. If you look at what is being budgeted for next year, we don’t have enough fund balance to cover what the proposed budget is and keep the tax rate the same. The Supervisor has listed in this budget using a fund balance of $248,980.00 which technically we don’t have. The Budget Officer noted we cannot rely on CHIPS funding next year as a reliable source of funding. In the past a good portion of the DA account has been supplemented by fund balance. We can’t continue to rely on fund balance to cover the personnel and equipment costs year after year. There are yearly increases built in to the highway workers’ contract. Insurance also goes up each year. This year health care will go up about 9%.

It was noted that last year the town took just about $230,000.00 out of the DA – Highway fund balance. Yearly there is a little bit of roll over that was not used from a line item. That money then becomes fund balance. We, however, wont’ know what the final balance of the accounts will be right now at the end of 2020.

The Budget Officer stated the state calculated that the town would be able to, without overriding the tax cap, be able to raise about $28,000.00 extra to the budget. The clerk noted an override would require a resolution and also a public hearing for a Local Law to override the tax cap.

The Supervisor stated he did not want to dwell on small dollar amounts.

The Preliminary Budget was presented as follows:

Supervisor Horton proposed the legislative branch A1010.1 four town board member be increased to $14,000.00 (divided by four) $3,500 per council member. A 15% increase.

A1010.41 Grant Writer C/E $1,500.00. This is for a sewer district and for the purchase of Highway equipment.

Council Member Long stated the Supervisor did not want to dwell on small dollar amounts. Yet there are 21 pages of small dollar amounts. He was not sure the board would get to their target unless the board is very serious about every small dollar amount. He noted the board signed up for giving to the town he didn’t think there should be an increase in the line item A1010.1. Council Member Travis stated a lot of the board members work hard. He thought the increase was helpful. Council Member Glenn agreed but suggested circling that and coming back to it.

The Supervisor noted he took a bold swipe at this budget to get things going in the other direction. He stated he wanted people to run and serve and serve well. In A1220.1 Supervisor line items was raised to $15,000.00. A1220.12 Confidential Secretary remained @ $9,000.00. Mr. Shekerjian has accomplished a lot this year. He saves the Supervisor’s time doing research. He has saved the town about $30,000 to $35,000.00.

A1220.21 was increased to $2,500.00 this covers the bookkeeper’s software also.

A1220.4 C/E and A1220.2 Equipment were each decreased by $500.00 this year.

A1320.1 Bookkeeper increased by 2% = $25,505.00. The Budget Officer noted most personal services (salaries) were increased 2%. Unless otherwise requested.

A1355.4 Assessment C/E reduced by $500.00.

A1410.1 Town Clerk increased to $41,000.00. Put in as a place holder. There is also a study being conducted on this as well. Supervisor Horton noted some jobs are more fulltime than others. This job has a whole different set of criteria. The Town Clerk has to do certain duties. In our situation the Town Clerk took over Tax Collection. It is a solid two months of work along with a service provide all year long. The Supervisor praised the Clerk for her organization of the office and how well the office is run. The funds are turned over to him promptly and accurately. Very little compensation was received for taking on this job. There isn’t a separate line item for Tax Collector. He wants to solve this once and for all. It is just being fair for the position.

Council Member Travis calculated for the Town Clerk/Tax Collector at $30.00 per hour which the town pays other people in town hall, times 30 hours a week times 52 weeks equals $46,500.00. It is close to what other departments earn.

Mrs. Holliday stated she has several jobs it is not just Town Clerk. “Taxes are a big job.” She is also a notary. She thought the raise was legitimate. Council Member Travis stated everything is done beautiful. The increase was almost 20% as calculated by Council Member Long. The Supervisor thought there was a lot of adjustments that need to be made.

Clerk Equipment A1410.2 decrease by $750.00 to $250.00

Clerk C/E A1410.4 increased by $300 to $8000.00. This is used for office supplies, trainings, postage, and software expense. All of the tax collection expenses come out of this line item.

Attorney Contractual Expense A1420.4 increased to $35,000.00. Tomorrow the Morey Road situation should be finished. There will be a virtual meeting. Three people did not sign off. Who knows what expenses we will have next year? We never know who will sue the town.

A1430.4 Personnel Study is zero for 2021. The Budget was amended to $4,500 from $2,000 to have five positions evaluated.

Sewer study A1440.4 Engineers reduced to $5,000 for 2021. This should be done next week. Fulton County Planning will help the town with this project. Council Member Glenn noted this study has been going on for 5 – 6 years. It is coming to fruition. We need infrastructure. People are coming to our town and investing.

Elections A1450.4 this was reduced to $3,600.00 for 2021. This figure comes from the County.

Oper. Plant/Building A1620.1 that is personal services for the janitor/maintenance. It was reduced to $15,000.00. The town is looking to have a backup employee but they will not augment the position. It is to replace a person for services if they can’t do it. They will do plowing and fill in if someone gets sick.

Building C/E A1620.4 heat, lights, and boilers. You never know what issues will arise especially with an old building the line item remained at $65,000.00.

It is 10:55 am and Highway Superintendent Larry Voght has joined the meeting.

Golf Course Bldg. C/E line A1620.42 item was increased to $20,000.00 from $12,500.00. Supervisor Horton noted a major study is going on at the golf course. The Supervisor, Gene Centi and Council Member Sturgess are working on this. They have obtained information from other golf courses. They are looking at everything and think the town is missing an opportunity for revenue in the golf course. One example is that we are not selling water, soda, energy drinks or hats, shirts, gloves or golf balls. The building club house looks horrible. Every dollar we invest we will get a return on. The taxpayers deserve no less. Golf play is up at least 10% based on the numbers being reported.

Mrs. Holliday noted last year Mrs. Marler worked there and did a lot of painting and the inside looked good.

Mr. Centi asked about an increase for Golf Course Bldg. C/E line A1620.42 item was increased to $30,000.00. The club house area needs to be expanded.

Council Member Glenn suggested jumping ahead to the Highway budget as Mr. Voght is a very busy person. The board moved to the bottom of page 7. That is his salary information. The Supervisor stated he bumped up the Highway Supervisor salary to $50,000.00. When people work hard and do a really, really good job… The Town Supervisor talks to him every day.

The Budget Officer began on page 17. The DA5110.1 is the employees they have a 3% increase in their contract. General Repairs Contractual DA5110.4 is the summer maintenance of roads. CHIPS DA 5112.2 is where we expect reimbursement from the state. It was reduced to the base amount for next year of $77,000.00. There will not be a rollover of funds as there has been in the past. Bridges C/E DA5120.4 the Highway Superintendent said he didn’t need to keep the $25,000.00 in the budget as it has been in previous years. The Machinery and Equipment line DA 5130.2 is for any purchase of equipment. The equipment is for items to be purchased outright, not subject to bond or an installment plan. That is the reason for the increase from $20,000 to $75,000.00. DA5130.4 is for fixing the existing machinery was decreased from $80,000 to $40,000. Since there are more in-house repairs there hasn’t been as much expense on the line item.

Supervisor Horton noted this is where management and hard work pay off for the taxpayers. The right people were put in the position and changed the philosophy thus making a significant savings.

Snow Removal DA5142.1 is the employees for the winter months. A 3% increase was given along with some extra for any overtime. The line item DA5142.1 part time snow was put down to zero as no one would be hired part time next year. DA5142.4 C/E was increased $3.000.00 for any increase in sand or salt. The Highway Superintendent stated “we don’t buy no sand.” Supervisor Horton explained the town has a gravel pit and we screen on site. This saves the taxpayers.

Council Member Glenn read an article about legislation and the amount of salt being used in the Adirondacks. He wondered if we could cut back by 1/3 or 30% of what is being put on the roads. Supervisor Horton noted the legislation has been passed by the Assembly and Senate and is on the desk of the Governor. Next Wednesday the board will be asked to approve a resolution supporting that the Governor sign the legislation. This would help protect our, wells, streams, and lakes.

Mr. Voght – Highway Superintendent stated this will always be a problem until catch basins are put in every culvert that goes into the lake. The Supervisor asked the Highway Superintendent if he could use less salt. He noted last year there was a lot of ice. We mix our own and are required by a contract with the County to use salt on certain roads. Mr. Voght stated we use less salt than any other town in the County per mile.

On page 18 to finish off the Employee Benefits there is no change except in DA9030.8 Social Security was increased and DA9060.8 Health Insurance line item went up. The Budget Officer stated there was a mistake – typo in Uniforms it should be $6,500.00 all the way across.

Under Debt Service Supervisor Horton was proposing paying off the truck. There are two more years on it. DA9720.6 shows about a $37,000 payoff in October of each year. The town would save one-year interest which is about $900.00. The Supervisor wants to make the town look as good as it can financially. He noted the State Comptroller has assessed the town as far as financial risk at zero out of a hundred. Zero is the best score. He stated we are growing environmentally meaning population we are increasing 16.5 on a stress scale. We still need more and younger people into this town. The Supervisor does not want to borrow any more money than we have to. If we budget properly, we should have to borrow very, very little.

The Board discussed Transfers: DA9901.9 the amount of money put away in equipment reserve.

This line item is put in at the end of the year depending of if funds are available.

The Budget Officer noted you are relying on fund balance. These line items are not from taxes but from a fund balance that is dwindling. It may not be available. Our unassigned fund balance for the highway right now is only at $52,000.00. Right now, with everything in the budget the board would have to come up with $250,000.00 of fund balance. It sounds good to go with the Supervisor’s plan to pay ahead the $37,000.00 but it may not be fiscally possible. We have to make sure we are not over spending next year. A discussion was held on if the board was going to budget to pay off the truck next year and how much to put in reserve. As a Budget Officer she is more conservative and does not want to have a wishful budget for next year when there are so many economic things we don’t know. She did not know if 2021 was the year to implement big changes.

The preliminary budget listed $50,000.00 the line item DA9901.9. It was reduced to $10,000.00. If in December of 2021 there is extra money the board can make a budget adjustment. DA9720.6 was reduced to $37,000.00. The total appropriations at the end of page 18 was now at $945,700.00.

All board members agreed on the changes to page 18.

At 11:30 am the Highway Superintendent left the meeting.

Central Communication A1660.4. Mr. Travis has two quotes on the phones $4,926.00 and $6,939.00. Council Member Long advocated for cell phones which have a lower capital cost. The clerk did ask one of the vendors about going with cellular phones. The response back was that cell phones get lost and get broken that is not the way to go. Supervisor Horton noted there was quite a bit of internal transfer of calls. The Clerk noted the importance of relaying messages to the court in a timely manner. The line item in the preliminary budget was $8,500 it was reduced to $7,500.00.

Printing A1670.4 stayed the same $3,500.00.

The Budget Officer reviewed the Special Items line items. A1910.4 Town Insurance was increased to $45,000.00. It was noted that $7,500 was already taken out of Contingency A1990.4 already this year. The board discussed the contingency line item. It is there for unexpected expenses. It gives the town a little more wiggle room within the budget. We are going to pull from here for attorney fees to get through the end of the year. It was noted that budget modification within a certain department can be pulled from something else within that department to balance if that is what you want to try to do. The Budget Officer stated contingency is sort of the last resort. Contingency was left at $25,000.00.

Page 5 Traffic Control A3310.4 is for stop signs.

Control of Dogs: A3510.1 Supervisor Horton did not know how much of a problem we have. We get reports every month. He believed there was less than 20 nuisance dogs so for this year. He likes the service we get but did not want to spend $6,400.00 next year. Council Member Glenn thought this was one area we could whittle away on. He wanted to cut it by $1,000.00.

Supervisor Horton did negotiate the James A Brennan Humane Contract down from $2,100 this year to $550.00. The supervisor suggested the salary be $3,000.00.

The Budget Officer works with other towns and noted the salary entices people to be that position. The Town of Oppenheim has gone through many dog controls officers. It takes a special kind of person to go out and deal with a dangerous dog. Oppenheim pays $4,500 for a DCO. The line item was not increased this year.

Safety Inspections A3620.1 the Code Officer is fulltime 40 hours a week. The Code Assistant is budgeted with the anticipation that she will get certified by the end of the year. At that time the hourly rate would be $20.00 an hour at 32 hours a week. The hourly rate is currently$15.00 an hour. The compensation for the Code Officer and Clerk/Assistant would remain hourly. Council Member Long works with this department a lot. It is critical we pay people for the work they are doing. Jennifer Blowers is doing the zoning. He believes she deserves to be compensated for the work she is doing now. The Supervisor knows how complicated the zoning is in Caroga.

Council Member Travis asked if the $32,000.00 salary included the health insurance benefit she gets. Supervisor Horton responded that it is not included. Council Member Long noted Mr. Duesler has not yet submitted a resignation letter. So, he is still working for the town hourly.

Demolition of Unsafe Buildings A3650.4 was discussed. Council Member Long stated if a building is unsafe the town will have to tear it down if the owner does not remedy it. Supervisor Horton was sure that was the case. He noted the number of unsafe buildings in the city of Gloversville. It was noted that the county has a demolition team. Council Member Long was told they are seven years behind. The Clerk thought the town had to have ownership of the building before they could demo it. It is a long and drawn out process. If the town was forced into demoing a building the Supervisor thought money should be on the line item. It was stated that engineering studies and asbestos abatement is sometimes necessary and is expensive. We may be able to get through the year as no structures are currently in the pipeline to be removed. The structure on Route 10 has been cited but is in probate. The line item was increase from zero to $10,000.00 in the preliminary budget.

Registrar of Vital Statistics was given a 2% increase.

Public Health other BTI A40505.1 a 2% salary increase was given.

Ambulance A4540.4 was put in last year because the county was thinking of assessing the towns for services. We are past that now as the private ambulance service is working. Council Members Glenn and Long agreed.

At the top of page 8 is street lighting A5182.4. The line item remained the same in 2021. The street lighting program did not move along as quickly as the Supervisor had hoped. Supervisor Horton has a map of all of the street lights in town. He asked Fulton County Planning if they could print it out. He will send the map over to Council Member Long to see if he can print it.

It has a GIS format and the Supervisor can open the file.

Publicity A6410.4 and A6410.41 remained at $2,000.00 each. Supervisor Horton stated he would like the Parks, Lakes, Recreation, and Tourism (PLRT) to take over all of the publicity for events and for the golf course. The Budget Officer stated she can add in the word “Town” Contractual Expenses. Supervisor Horton stated the bottom of page 8 and top of page 9 just using one line item for all of those. The amount would be $4,750.00 and then use the money wherever. The Budget Officer – Joanne Young noted we do have to report to the state what we are spending the money on. The Supervisor asked that the line item be changed to A6410.4 with $4,750.00 on it.

Supervisor Horton hoped the board could get together next Monday. It was noted it was a holiday. Another date and time for the next budget meeting was discussed. Friday October 16th at 9 am was set.

The last item to be discussed was programs for the Aging A6772.4 was reduced to $1,200.00. Mrs. Holliday hoped the money would be restored in case they are able to go on trips next year. The budget figure only covers one trip. The Supervisor is trying to save money. The Budget Officer noted the $350.00 expense is what the county charges the town for the meals on wheels program yearly. The line item was increased to $1,550.00.

Council Member Travis noted the museum is going to lose money too.

At 12:18 pm Council Member Long made a motion to adjourn. Council Member Travis seconded the motion. All board members were in favor of the motion.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda M. Gilbert, RMC, CMC

Town Clerk

Copyright © James McMartin Long 2017–2021