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State of New York
County of Fulton
Town of Caroga
Minutes of a Caroga Town Board meeting held Wednesday October 21, 2020 at the municipal building located at 1840 State Highway #10 at 9:32 am with the following persons in attendance by roll call:
Supervisor Scott Horton - Here
Council Member John Glenn – arrived at 9:47 am
Council Member James Long - Here
Council Member Richard Sturgess - Here
Council Member Donald Travis - Here
Supervisor Horton, Council Members Glenn, Sturgess, and Travis were in the meeting room Council Member Long was accessing the meeting remotely. Also, in attendance were Gene Centi – Weed Harvesting Coordinator and Parks, Lakes, Recreation, and Tourism Chairman, and Joanne Young – Bookkeeper and Budget Director. There was a member of the public in attendance. There were 22 members of the public signed in using ZOOM.
Supervisor Horton introduced Steve Smith a seasonal resident of Canada Lake and CEO of L.L. Bean called in to address the board. He told the board from a third-party perspective (expert perspective) what a bike/hike trail does for our community. Mr. Smith gave his bio he is third generation Town of Caroga and Canada Lake person. He now has seven family members that have residences along the South Shore of Canada Lake. He was born in Amsterdam NY and grew up in Schenectady. He has never missed a summer in Canada Lake and considers it his home. He fishes, hikes, mountain bikes, water skis and paddles. He eats Council Member Sturgess’ breakfast sandwiches and tells everyone they are the best in America, and drinks at all of our establishments. He noted he has been the CEO of L.L. Bean for the past five years.
Steve Smith gave some stats on outdoor recreation. In 2018 hook and bullet, and hike and camp, including snowmobiling is an 887-billion-dollar business in the United States. 185 billion are spent on products and 700 billion spent on travel specifically for outdoor recreation. He noted driving travel to local destinations is through the roof. We have seen that at every trail head in the Southern Adirondacks. 49% of the US population age 6 and over participate in at least two outdoor activities per year. The number is multiplied this year with no organized sports, no school sports and people staying in their budget the number is multiplied again. There are 7.6 million jobs in the outdoor recreation industry. He noted 59 billion paid in local and state taxes – sales tax, consumption taxes, hunting and fishing licenses, these stats were from the Outdoor Industry Association 2018 annual report. His industry is up 400% in bike, kayak, standup paddle board sales, light hiking boot sales, slippers…. The recreation boom is huge and is here to stay. He stated there will be a slight drop off. The economic development that comes from trail development in VT, NH, and Maine is an industry in and of itself. They are spending an afternoon, if not a day hopefully a weekend, they camp or are hotel oriented. People travel to and from different venues. For Caroga he thinks golf, hunting, snowmobiling, road cycling, mountain biking, foliage can coexist they coexist everywhere else. A great hunting day is a terrible mountain biking day. Most mountain biking will be done during bow hunting season and there may be a little overlap with muzzle, and very little with rifle. Most bow hunting kill in Maine is a 17-yard shot. He didn’t believe a mountain biker would be mistaken at that range. From an economic standpoint these are different audiences.
Council Member Glenn arrived
Mr. Smith continued when you think about the Wheelerville Trail, which he has ridden all of, we have to continue to finish the trails. They are world class trails. He figured there was about an hour to an hour and a half worth of riding of trails. To make in an afternoon destination there should be 3, 4, or 5 hours of riding. For a weekend destination there should be more like 8 – 10 hours of riding. There are about 4 miles built, he thought there needed to be between 10 and 20 miles of trails for it to be a talked about destination. At 20 – 40 miles of trails the hotels and bars are full. Whatever it takes to continue the project will provide fantastic economic benefits for Caroga.
Supervisor Horton thanked Mr. Smith for the information, data, and facts. He noted the population is aging but the public should be interested in the information.
Council Member Glenn stated his concern was the economic disaster we are in. He thought anything and everything should be cut. The Supervisor asked if he had any questions. Council Member Glenn understands the economic viability and opportunity. He wanted to see documentation on the profitability of the trails. Mr. Smith first noted that hiking is an older demographic. He reiterated his previous statements. He noted this is an investment in economic diversity that will come in the spring of 2021. He noted the success of the Meco Stump City Trails.
Mr. Centi asked Mr. Smith how much of a decline will we see once these COVID restrictions are lifted. Mr. Smith noted that from information his company has obtained from CBS Health, Johnson and Johnson and Goldman Sacks, we won’t see a material vaccine impact until August or September of 2021. He noted there were a lot of discretionary purchases (bikes, kayak, chainsaws, fishing gear, rifles) this year due to the stimulus, those toys need use. He thinks there will be similar use in 2021 and by that time those activities will become habit. They may have been an escape from the world but now you have fallen in love with the activities. Mr. Centi stated now people have 100% of their time to do activities. When they go back to work it will shrink to making 20% of their time to recreate. Will the upbeat level continue with hiking, biking and golfing? In the summer Mr. Smith stated participation will remain high. Golf has seen the participation rate improve and increase because it can be done with social distancing. He stated golf has been in a long-term decline.
Council Member Long asked Steve what the models say about the long-term trends about golf going forward. His company is not in golf. He only sees data in some of the publications he reads. He will take it as a question he can get an answer to. He will send it to Jeremy.
Mr. Smith was again thanked. He is happy to help.
Council Member Long reminded the public of Tor Shekerjian discovery that callers can signal (raise their hands virtually) by typing *9. Supervisor Horton noted this was not a hearing.
Supervisor Horton noted the board has been through the budget front to back. He has seen a few areas he wants to revisit. There was not much discussion to have on Revenues. The Supervisor stated he would like to have the tentative budget ready to be published and to have a public hearing on. The Supervisor worked on the budget last night. The funding of the bike/hike trail was reviewed – page 9 A7145.1 had $30,000 and additional line A7145.2 was added for a trail manager $10,000. And A7145.4 C/E is at $15,000. For a total of $55,000. A total of $10,000 will be reimbursed from the smart growth grant. Council Member Long was in favor of this. He was influenced by the words of Steve Smith. It is not the time to drop this or the funding of weed harvesting.
Council Member Sturgess agreed with Mr. Smith. This is up and coming. We can’t have something 80% done. There have been a lot of missed opportunities in this town. He sees bikes coming through at his business. He would like to see Mr. Manning finish the initial steps like signage, barriers and hours of operation. All the things we need to figure out to get a business running. He would like to see Mr. Manning get another grant funding for it for the 2022 budget.
Supervisor Horton stated as soon as the portals are open Mr. Manning is committed to going for more funding. The town said they wanted this project. The Supervisor wanted to have a stop date and then have the board reconsider where we are going after that. This project developed on its own.
Council Member Sturgess asked what was there to do in this town. That is the question he had 8 years ago when he opened his business. Kids could fish but he has to transport his kids to hiking trails like 9 Corners. As they get older it would be good to have multiple things we can do in this town. The bike trail is one more amenity and if it brings tourism in, he is all for it. He noted the problem of lodging, but that is another ball of wax. Potentially it can grow into something that could be bigger.
Supervisor Horton sees the mistakes of the past, sidewalks were not put in which would have made town center more beautiful. A dam was lost and we lost Irving Pond.
Council Member Sturgess wanted to know from Mr. Manning after we get to 8 – 10 miles of trails what are the anticipated expenses of the trail system.
Council Member Glenn was thinking last evening that we have the Nick Stoner Trailer Assoc. which is the snowmobile Organization the town funds up to $3,000 a year. Can the town contribute X to the bike trail and then they report to the town on where they are and what their budget is? Council Member Sturgess agreed. What will the maintenance be? Supervisor Horton stated there has to be a wrap on this. Next year the trail can’t cost another $45,000. Council Member Sturgess is for the trail but it can’t take four years to get it to world class proportion. Eventually it was thought that a club would take it over. Those using and enjoying it the most should be willing to pitch in and help maintain it.
Council Member Travis noted the need to maintain it and through the funding could not continue on. He thought the club could maintain it not out of our dollars. Supervisor Horton wanted to monetize it. The PLRT could host some competitions that would bring revenue to offset….
Mr. Centi asked Jeremy Manning where the next expansion would take place. Mr. Manning replied what they are looking to do next is maximize what they can do on the existing property. They have a really good start. They set out to do three trails this year and they will have five done with that money. The cost has been brought down to under $2 per foot. Most trails are built at $8 a foot. Mr. Manning had hoped to be able to do a grant for next year to get this funded again. Due to COVID the pipeline dried up. He stated due to this there is a gap year, he needs a bridge funding to get through to where this project is utilized and built up to a functional, viable, marketable bike park. Next year one additional very easy climb trail similar to the one built back to the lake. That will take six weeks to build. It is very long; a lot of engineering goes into it. And then three more downhill trails. The next step is to utilize town property. There is a strip of land that follows Irving Pond Road to the south and then go inside the golf course edge and bring it into the cell tower property. Those trails would be more moderate and family friendly.
Supervisor Horton has talked with Mr. Manning for hours and hours. He asked if this funding that the town is proposing now will get the project to the 3 – 4-hour usage rate. Before we get to that point, he thought the Town Board was going to want a more detailed plan. Council Member Glenn wants to see what has been done so far. If this is funded will it get the trail to an afternoon ride? “Yes’” was the reply from Mr. Manning.
The Supervisor asked if that would stay just on the property, we have on that SBL. Mr. Manning again stated “Yes, absolutely.” The property is only 115 acres. The trail has some moderate climbs to the top and they are making it more downhill focused. When you do that, they want to ride it over and over again. There is one climb trail in the back and the topography is a bit difficult. So there has to be different options off the front. “If we finish this next year we could probably stop at the end of next year and say OK, we got a really good functional park.” He stated it is not what it should be. But next year people can easily spend 3 -4 hours. Next year Mr. Manning stated we can go after more CFA or Smart Growth, or recreational trail project funding. He stated there was money for connecting Caroga to Wheelerville with Dept. of Transportation funding.
Council Member Sturgess did want to know what the estimated cost of maintenance was after the trail system is done. Mr. Manning stated one of the first things they looked into was for ongoing maintenance. He has a relationship built with the Adirondack Foothills trails Alliance. They have been organizing the volunteer days. They are looking forward this project. Long-term this would be one of the trails they oversee much like the Nick Stoner Trailers. They would like to be the trail group that would be the stewards, responsible for maintaining this long term. If the town wants to give them a small donation per year it would be appreciated. Council Member Sturgess asked if AFTA gets state funds. Mr. Manning did not know of any state funding that goes directly to mountain biking trail clubs for maintenance. People who ride the trails like to help maintain them.
Council Member Glenn asked if one more climbing trail was needed to connect to the five trails that are established. Mr. Manning stated the trails are all connected now but they need some easier ways to the summit. Council Member Glenn asked what exactly is needed to finish up exactly the trail system you have currently designed. He didn’t want to talk about any expansions or grandiose ideas down the road. Mr. Manning stated we can get there with the $55,000 currently in the budget. It will take 4 – 5 weeks to make the climb trail. They need a bigger machine for some of that. Council Member Sturgess asked if the board was spending $55,000 on one trail next year. Mr. Manning stated they would need four weeks on additional trails as well. It will be a stretch as it is with the money in there Mr. Manning stated. This work will make the mountain the bike park it needs to be to fully realize the project.
Council Member Glenn recounted there is one climb trail that is intermediate to advanced, and to finish this off for families and kids is a longer trial like a beginner trail at a ski slope to the top of the mountain. “Yes,” was Mr. Manning’s response. Council Member Glenn stated that is all you need to finish phase one part of the project. Mr. Manning stated more trails needed to be built in. Right now, four trails are laid out for next year. Council Member Sturgess asked how many miles of trails do we have right now. Mr. Manning stated right now he has 4 ½ trails finished completed about four miles of trails. Supervisor Horton wanted to wrap this up. Supervisor Horton paraphrased things so the board can make decisions on this thing fast. After this 2021 the board will consider it a wrap until he comes back if he has other ideas and it will be a new program. The point has been made that the board wants to finish what we are doing. To finish what we are doing is more than what the $64,000 grant was covering. To have this be a park it has to be at least an afternoon’s worth of riding. To do that Mr. Manning is saying if we fund it at this level, we can wrap it up and we will have signage and it will be a destination. Mr. Manning confirmed what Supervisor Horton said.
Council Member Glenn recommended finishing up what we have. Looking at a business model similar to the snowmobile club. He suggested funding the whole recreational projects for $10,000. Council Member Long stated that would kill the project. Supervisor Horton stated $10,000 would give us the hour and a half trail system that doesn’t work. Council Member Sturgess figured the cost to be $2.70 per foot. He was in favor of funding the whole thing. Next time Council Member Glenn wants to see a trail map of where it is going to go and a plan in writing. It was done for the grant but the problem is the board wants to know where we are going in the next step in a more tangible way. We understand you have to change things as they are being built. The Supervisor wants to see how successful this is going to be. Council Member Sturgess wants to keep it how it is written. Mr. Manning should in a month or so get a game plan together and come in front of the board. If the board doesn’t like the route it is going it can be cut out later. He thought that was fair. Council Member Glenn wanted to wrap it for the year and see if these other projections come to fruition. Council Member Sturgess sees the trail as a place someone will ride the trail go have lunch or have a beer before going to the next trail. They would try to do a few hours and a half trails in a day. If we get people here for an afternoon, they will definitely catch them for breakfast or lunch and or for an overnight stay. Council Member Glenn noted there were other trails in the area. He stated we are in a budgetary crisis. The Supervisor left it at $55,000. He noted $10,000 is left over from the grant. Council Member Sturgess wanted to make sure Jeremy gets back to the board.
Council Member Sturgess wanted clarification on the school cutting funding for the youth program. He had a discussion this morning with someone who came into his place of business. They talked to the staff at the school and came back and told Council Member Sturgess that they did not cut summer recreation at all, they are still funding the program. They did not want the bad publicity. Whoever is saying it was asked to please stop. Supervisor Horton stated the school should notify the town. He had meetings with them this summer. The school said they were not doing it “so we cut it out.” Council Member Sturgess wanted to leave the line item as it was last year until verified by the school. A7310.1 was put at $21,000, A7310.41 was put at $3,600. Page 16 Other Youth Programs A3820 was put at $10,000. The town and the school split the cost of the program in half of whatever was spent. Mr. Centi noted the total program for personnel and expense was $20,638.92 for last year.
Council Member Glenn looked at the demo line item on page 6. Council Member Long stated there is one building in the queue Sven Ratsep.
Council Member Glenn stated the county team could be contacted. Council Member Long stated the county is years and years behind on demolition. That is not the information Council Member Glenn received. A3650.4 was put at zero.
Council Member Sturgess – page 5 asked if dog control could be paid per dog to cut expenses. Supervisor Horton had a discussion with Howard Dutcher. He did not talk about reducing the salary but he noted the number of incidences has gone down drastically. Council Member Glenn noted the humane society contract was reduced. He noted it is hard to get dog catchers. No increase in salary was proposed for this year. Council Member Travis noted Mr. Dutcher is the health officer too. He is paid $100 per case. The Budget Officer noted this is usually a salaried position.
Council Member Sturgess- page 8 asked what street lighting contractual expenses was. That is what the town pays for street lighting. Supervisor Horton noted it is in two parts maintenance and consumption. Supervisor Horton is expecting the purchase to be done next month for the lighting. Council Member Glenn asked when the breakeven point is. Supervisor Horton stated next year to be conservative line item A5182.4 was left at $38,000. There will be a payment scheduled for next September that pays in arrears. The first year of the program the expense should droop about $9,000. After seven years it should drop down to less than $8,000. Three years to break even.
Council Member Glenn - page 5 A3310.4 signage. Last year $6,000 was budgeted. Year to date we used $2,300. The line was reduced to $2,500. Council Member Long supported it.
Council Member Sturgess page 8-line item A5132.4, the board examined and discussed the cost of fuel and the actual amount used in 2019. The Budget Officer noted the line covers any expense for the building itself. They want to paint the front. Council Member Glenn noted last year a new furnace, electrical, and work was done in the office was put into the building. The line was reduced to $20,000.
Supervisor Horton stated we should just go back to page one. He noted each board member has areas they have marked and want to discuss. The board discussed and reviewed the line items as follows:
A1010.41 Grant writer changed to $0.00
A1110.1 Justices $16,285.00
A1110.11 Court Clerk $ 3,535.00
A1110.4 C/E $ 1,400.00
A1220.1 Supervisor $10,232.00
A1220.12 Secretary $ 8,000.00 add confidential - it is an hourly compensation
A1220.21 software security – $2,500.00 insurance company wants 38-page report filled out
A1220.4 C/E $2,500.00
Council Member Glenn wanted to know where we stand with the changes. Council Member Long replied from his spread sheet.
A1320.1 added a 2% cost of living adjustment - Bookkeeper to $25,505.00. Council Member Long noted the tax cap was 1.56% and suggested that increase.
The Budget Officer has the figures for a 1.56% increase in salaries for each of the positions. Council Member Glenn - If 2% is given for non-elected officials it should be consisted. The difference is: 2% for all positions is about $430.00.
A1340.1 Budget - $ 2,920.00
A1355.1 Assessor - $26,510.00 public asked why the increase she works one day a week. Response all non-elected get 2%
A1335.4 C/E $ 2,250.00 stamps & training. The Supervisor noted our assessor works for 4 -5 other townships it is not incumbent for Caroga to pay for all the training. The Budget Officer noted it is prorated.
A1410.1 $34,031.00 Clerk The e-mail correspondence has been 50/50 on this line item increase. Then Supervisor Horton claimed emails say 90% flat line it.
A1410.12 Longevity $3,000 Council Member Long did not support this. He did think longevity was a good idea but not this year.
The clerk asked why the board is entertaining putting in a $10,000 salary for a bike trail coordinator – a new position. The Supervisor stated he thought the clerk was out of order. Throw me out if you like. The Clerk noted the board pays the Bookkeeper over $100 and hour currently. The Clerk has received support for a raise. In reviewing what the Clerk does the Supervisor originally put in $41,000.00 for the job duties, experience, and responsibilities. The Clerk has been here for 25 years. From his experience in private industry many paid hourly earn $20 an hour. The Town Clerk does not make $20.00. That is why he put in the major adjustment. The Supervisor noted he renegotiated the contract with Pinnacale Human Resources down to $2,250.00. Supervisor noted they should have a policy on longevity. After the first term give them $1,000. Mr. Centi noted it is just another term for a pay increase. The previous board tried to do it. Mrs. Holliday noted all the jobs the Clerk does. She didn’t know who else could do this. You won’t get someone else to put in the hours or do the job she does. “You are not being fair to her.” Some of the Clerk duties have stipends. Council Member Travis suggested $4,000 on longevity. Council Member Sturgess asked for justification on the % of the raise.
Supervisor Horton went on to say he doesn’t like it when people say you don’t have to run for reelection if you don’t like the salary. There are two positions that are career/employment positions. It is a primary source of income. The Town Clerk is one and the Highway Superintendent is the other. To be really fair if the Highway Superintendent is going up 7% then the Clerk should too. Council Member Sturgess stated Mr. Voght has saved the town tens of thousands of dollars. If you search on line it states the position is under paid in this town. The salary ranges are $39,000 to $48,000. If it has been under paid for a long time maybe it should be addressed. Council Member Long stated it’s not the year to address it.
A1410.1 Clerk $34,031.00
A1410.12 Longevity $3,000
The Budget Officer put three different budget scenarios together.
A1410.11 Deputy $8,000 it is hourly - line item has never gone over budget
Mr. Centi announced that the Morey Road paperwork was signed. Supervisor Horton thanked him for taking his thunder.
A1440.41 Sewage Study $0.00
A1410.4 C/E Clerk $7,000.00 reduced $700
A1610.1 Webmaster $360 new position Council Member Long reminded the board the town has a website of record TownOfCaroga.com
A1620.1 Janitor $15,000 paid biweekly 20 hours a week
A1620.4 C/E $65,000 town hall building is aging
A1620.42 Golf C/E $20,000 a major renovation is planned inside
Supervisor Horton noted a survey was done of golfers. Mr. Centi, Council Member Sturgess and Supervisor Horton visited golf courses and met with experts in the industry. They found the town is missing a revenue source. The play is most important- it’s in maintenance now.
The second thing most profitable is golf carts. Right now, the pro owns the carts but if the town took over carts revenue less expenses would bring in another $30,000 to the town. It is not in the budget this year it is the talk. The third revenue source is misc. items to sell, T- shirts, caps, balls, chips, and candy bars – the retail end. The committee has been looking at this for a year. They anticipate a break even the first year.
A1660.4 $7,500 phone system can’t be put off a year. Supervisor Horton stated it may crash.
Special Items can’t be touched
A1910.4 $45,000 – insurance
A1920.4 $1,500 - dues
A1960.4 $0.00 Judgments & Claims $1,000 moved to contingency
A1990.4 $26,000 Contingency
A3620.1 $54,600 codes enforcement 40 hours a week
A3620.12 $32,000 Jen is finally getting training
A4010.4 $500 Board of Health
A4020.1 $812 Registrar
Supervisor Horton asked for any changes a page 7
A4050.1 $16,475.00 Black Flies Great job this year better and better
A5010.1 $50,000 Superintendent of Highways - Supervisor Horton wants to see him get a reasonable… 7% increase
A5010.11 $2,250 Deputy Supervisor up 2%
A5010.4 $1000 – training travel
A5132.4 $20,000 garage
Page 8 Publicity is not transparent per Council Member Long. Line items were combined for more flexibility. The Budget Officer stated it is better to keep golf course publicity separate.
A6410.4 $2,000 C/E publicity
A6410.41 $2,000 Golf Course
A6410.42 $750 Ads/Tourism
A6772.4 $1,550.00 Programs for the Aging
A7180.1 $114,000 Council Member Long asked if it could be kept down this year. Council Member Sturgess noted this is the problem
Mr. Jennings is needed out on the course, not inside the golf course. He was trying to do both. There needs to be another hire. The changes and subtle improvements will pay off in the long run. YTD will be around $68,000 in 2020. Mr. Centi noted a full-time person left. He was replaced with a ½ time person, and no one was in the pro shop. Last year we had a part time person.
A7180.2 $14,000 $10,626 is the annual cost of the mower
A7180.4 C/E $26,000 only $13,004.18 has been spent this year – that’s bad news as the course has suffered this is for the point of sale system it has a $1,000 fee per year.
Youth Services Mr. Centi called the Superintendent at the Wheelerville School. “There is no budget money for youth services, in fact there is no budget what so ever for next year for the school program. They haven’t even begun to work on their budget.” He asked what she anticipated, she said, “I have no idea and cannot make any commitment to tell you what we can or cannot do next year.” The school calendar runs from July 1st to June 30th. Council member Sturgess suggested keeping funding in our budget so in case they decide to fund it.
A7450.4 $2,500- Museum
A7510.1 $700 historian
A7550.4 $14,000 PLRT (subcommittee created) Mr. Centi stated this will help support programs for next year. This is the first year of the commission. They plan to bring recreation and cultural things to Caroga. They work in conjunction with other groups. They are planning outhouse races and a parade in July. There may be bingo and family movie nights. Music on the greens. To replace all the flags, it will cost around $3,000. Council Members Glenn and Long noted youth was mentioned last time. The confusion comes in as there are programs for the youth but not the youth program, family oriented. This has gotten the attention of people via email. There will be constant monitoring. Mr. Centi noted the term celebrations is what set people off.
Home & Community Services
A8010.4 $1,000 Zoning –postage and leader herald fees
A8020.4 $1,200 Planning – Council Member Long needs to submit postage and will probably go over budget his year.
A8020.41 $1,000 Comprehensive Plan- Budget Officer paid a bill this month from this account.
A8090.1 $14,500.00 Boat Wash Discussion on reducing the hours of operation. Council Member Long stated this line item is under his grant and the town is reimbursed for those. He noted it is expensive to mitigate East Caroga (200 acres) and shallow water on Canada Lake is far in excess of that (300 acres) If they were infected it would be talking ¼ million in mitigation. Supervisor Horton is concerned about invasive species but out of over 6000 inspections and only 6 contaminated boats were found. We are going to miss something even if we were locked down. Supervisor Horton didn’t see the $29,000 of reimbursement. Council member Long suggested having the lake associations take over their own lakes. He wouldn’t mind if the West Lake Access was closed.
Page 16 A3060 $23,000 Steward Grant- Council Member Long stated this was the single most important expense we can occur. If Canada Lake becomes infected with milfoil “That is the end.” There are sand bars and extremely shallow areas on Kasson Drive. The Budget Officer noted in years past Paul Smiths supplied stewards. We don’t know if that will continue.
A8090.2 $2,000 Weed Equipment - Capitol Reserve will be used for repairs
A8160.1 $48,000 Garbage removal
Fish and Game
A8720.4 $1,500 - PLRT Fish Stocking will cover more than one lake
A8810.4 $300 cemeteries same
A8989.41 $2,500 Nick Stoner Trailers - They get funding from the state Council Member Long noted the museum took a cut. The town spent $150,000 on legal expenses for Morey Road.
It is now 12:20 pm
A9060.81 $18,000 Golf Course Health Ins. Discussion: The town covers 50% of the HRA for each person. The town has budget if all of the HRA was used for the year. This included the premium a double it’s about $860, next year it will be nine something ($925). (Multiple conversations) The town has to budget for the HRA at $6,400.00.
Transfers: were all zeroed out.
Council Member Long asked if a transfer was necessary from A to DA this year to properly represent the levies we are asking for. We are expecting a timely payment from CHIPS. These come in mid-December. There may be a possibility of a transfer. The highway department is fine this year it is next year there is a cash problem. The highway budget relies on the property taxes coming in in January. The other influx is in December with the reimbursement of CHIPS or the garbage truck contract. You cannot by law transfer money from the A account to the DA account. It would have to be a loan and the town would have to charge interest. The Budget Officer stated this year the board would fund $25,000 for the Garbage Truck at the end of this year and nothing next year.
The budget officer asked Council Member Long if he had a total of the appropriations line item with all of the up to date changes. He did - it is $1,394,229.00. That is a cut of $1,000 from before.
A2025 $155,000 golf course - Mr. Centi reported without golf carts they anticipate revenues of $172,700.00. The Budget Officer noted a new code may be needed.
A2012 $17,700 Recreation Concessions was created. Future discussion on changes to the golf course, it was noted, are not executive session.
A2416 $21,000 Rental of Equip. “Bleecker” was added A few years ago an increase was proposed –they stated they would go elsewhere.
A1120 $600,000 Sales tax kept the same.
A2555 $15,000 building permits – The Budget Officer stated the YTD does not include October, November or December it will probably go over. Council Member Long hopes the board revisits fees. It may be time to increase them again. Board members were given a report the Supervisor requested from the Assessing Office showing why we are where we are. It is a five year look back. It will be given to Council Member Long
A4889 $10,000 Culture & Rec. Grant
Council Member Long figured the revenue on the A side as $1,164,229.00. There was a confusion over the total. Revenue should have gone up the Budget officer stated. She asked if the property tax was being included. Council Member Long didn’t use Supervisor Horton’s recommended property tax. He was using the property tax necessary to balance the budget on his spread sheet. He used $211,000. The Supervisor was using $300,000.
A3820 $10,000 Youth Program
Council Member Long then figured $1,253,000 roughly.
Highway this has been gone through this twice.
Supervisor Horton stated the Total Appropriations as $945,700.00.
DA2650 $5,000 sale of equipment did not change.
DA3501 $61,600 Consolidated Highway Aid. The Supervisor stated we are budgeting to spend $77,000. The state is not going to be reimbursing it 100% any longer.
Supervisor Horton did not see any way to not go over the tax cap. By law the town has to have a Local Law. Council Member Long didn’t want to go over the tax cap. He wanted the Supervisor to increase the appropriations of fund reserve from $230,000 to $421,000. We would just make the tax cap. Supervisor Horton stated so he would not get hung until next year then. Council Member Long replied, “That’s correct.” The fund balance is there. The Supervisor agreed. The piggy bank would be pretty empty – less than $200,000.
Council Member Sturgess asked how much this would cost the average taxpayer. Council Member Long was asked if he had these figures. He reported on the basis of a $230,000 use of the fund balance for the A account and $60,000 from the DA Account, and $452 from the Fire Account gives the A account rate would go from $1.00 per thousand to $1.36 per thousand. The DA would go from $4.07 to $5.09. The Fire SF goes from $0.89 to $0.90. The aggregate increase is 23.43% and the aggregate total per thousand goes from $5.96 per thousand up to $7.36 per thousand. Council Member Sturgess stated a total of $1.40 per thousand. So, on a home valued at $100,000 the increase would be $140.00 per household. Council Member Long again recommended using more than $230,000 from the A account fund balance $420,000 - $421,000. The Supervisor cannot see doing that. It would put the town in the same position as we were in the highway two years ago, and look where we are now. Council Member Long asked the Budget Director to estimate what the fund balance will be at the end of the year in the A account. Around $600,000 was the reply. That would leave the town $180,000. This board has scrutinized this budget and cuts have been made to the bone. The contingency fund only has $26,000 in it. There is not going to be a lot of money left over to go to the fund balance. The Supervisor stated characteristically governments have put a lot of money a little here, a little there. The Supervisor noted Council Member Long objected to that. Each line is really realistic, and then the Council Member wants to rob the fund balance even more than has been done in the last three years. We can’t do that the Supervisor stated. The Supervisor thought we may be back here over riding the tax cap again if we are not careful. Council Member Long thought so too, but this year do you need to have an override.
Council Member Sturgess preferred to have a small override for two years than a huge override in one year.
People can adjust to a minor change. A massive change is detrimental to them.
Next year the golf course will go down $12,000 and $45,000 will be cut from the bike trails in 2022.
Council Member Long again stated he wanted to take a little bit more out of fund balance.
The Supervisor asked the Budget Director if this could be turned into the tentative budget now. Mrs. Young wanted to know what numbers the board wanted her to use. She has three different covers. What is the amount to be raised by taxes for each of them? “I need to have the front page to make the tentative budget.”
Council Member Long is calculating if the Supervisor is going with using $230,000 fund balance from the A account, $60,000 from the DA account, and $452 from the FS account. The Budget Director asked if he was looking at the most recent cover page that she sent out. He is doing a line calculation on a spread sheet. The amount to be raised by taxes for the A (General) account would be $211,129.00. - $1.36 per thousand.
Council Member Long figured –Appropriations $1,394,229.00 Revenues $953,100.00 Fund balance $230,000. Amount to be raised by tax $211,129. DA side less Revenues $95,700.00 Fund balance $60,000. Amount to be raised by tax $790,000. The SF is taking $452 from fund balance and a levy of $142,292. $0.90 per thousand. This will make a 1.60% increase.
At that time the Supervisor stated we will have to notify the State Comptroller that the town is going to exceed the state limit.
RESOLUTION 2020-128 establishing proposed Local law #4 to override the 2021 tax cap was offered by Supervisor Horton at a work session meeting held on October 21, 2020 at 9:30 am at 1840 State Highway 10.
WHEREAS, the year 2020 has been an extraordinarily challenging year for local municipalities in Upstate New York, which has not seen a significant outbreak of COVID-19 but, like all other local governments throughout New York State, the region was forced to shut down for an extended period of time, while maintaining day-to-day operations necessary to keep a town functioning and serving the people most closely impacted by the sudden shuttering of businesses, job loss, and the added stress living in a period of uncertainty creates; and
WHEREAS, amongst the backdrop of COVID-19, and the multitude of challenges this pandemic continues to cause society, the New York State Comptroller recently released the “1.56 Percent Tax Cap” figures for the budget year 2021, and advised the Town of Caroga that the tax cap, in actuality, will be 1.60%; and
WHEREAS, the State of New York’s declaration that the tax increase for the 2021 budget for the Town of Caroga must remain under 1.60% of the tax rate adopted in 2020 is unrealistic, and threatens to force town boards across the State to choose between maintaining services or curtailing services and thereby increasing the potential for public safety to be sacrificed; and
WHEREAS, the Town Board for the Town of Caroga believes it to be in the best interest of the citizens and taxpayers of the town to craft a financially prudent, but reasonable and realistic town budget for 2021, without being restricted by an artificial and unworkable 1.60% tax cap limitation; and
WHEREAS, Local Law No. 4 of the Year 2020 is a Local Law to Override the Tax Levy Limit for Fiscal Year 2021 Established by General Municipal Law §3-c, and to allow the Town of Caroga to adopt a Town Budget for town purposes, fire protection districts, and other special or improvement districts governed by the Town Board for the Fiscal Year 2021 that requires a real property tax levy in excess of the tax levy limit as defined by GML §3-c; and
WHEREAS, the Local Law expressly authorizes the Town Board to override the tax levy limit by the adoption of a Local Law by a vote of 60% of the Town Board; and
WHEREAS, the Town Board desires to hold a public hearing on October 28, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. at the Town Offices and also via Zoom per executive order 202.67, for the purpose of hearing public comments on the adoption of Local Law No. 4 of 2020; and
WHEREAS, the Town Board has considered the application of the State Environmental Quality Review Act and hereby determines that the proposed Local Law constitutes a Type II action for which an environmental assessment form shall not be required;
NOW, THEREFORE, upon motion made by Town Supervisor Horton and seconded by Council Member Long, be it resolved as follows:
RESOLVED, that Local Law No. 4 of the Year 2020 of the Town of Caroga, A Local Law to Override the Tax Levy Limit Established in General Municipal Law §3-c is hereby introduced; and be it is further
RESOLVED, that the Town Clerk shall advertise the holding of a public hearing by the Town Board on Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom and at the Town Hall, located at 1840 State Highway 10, Town of Caroga to hear any comments related to the proposed Local Law No. 4 of 2020.
Adopted by a roll call vote as follows:
Supervisor Scott Horton - Aye
Council Member John Glenn - Yes
Council Member James Long - Yes
Council Member Richard Sturgess - Yes
Council Member Donald Travis – Yes
Supervisor Horton thanked everyone for their hard work. Council Member Long asked if a resolution was necessary to make this the tentative budget.
RESOLUTION #2020-129 to move the budget to its tentative form was offered by Council Member Glenn at a work session meeting held on Wednesday October 21, 2020 at 9:30 am at 1840 State Highway 10.
WHEREAS, the Supervisor, Budget Officer and Town Board have put in countless hours working on the 2021 budget, and
WHEREAS, budget meetings were held on October 5th, 16th, and 21st 2020, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the town board does hereby move to set the Tentative Budget.
The motion was seconded by Council Member Travis.
Adopted by a roll call vote as follows:
Council Member John Glenn - Yes
Council Member James Long - Yes
Council Member Richard Sturgess - Yes
Council Member Donald Travis - Yes
Supervisor Scott Horton - Yes
Supervisor Horton reiterated about Morey Road, the reduced contract price with Pinnacale Human Resources due to comments made about spending too much money.
At 1:10 pm Supervisor Horton made a motion to enter into an executive session to discuss personnel issues and a particular person in the Code Enforcement Department. The motion was seconded by Council Member Travis. All board members were in favor of the motion. The board moved into the Supervisors office.
At 1:51 pm Council Member Long made a motion to adjourn from the executive session. the motion was seconded by Council Member Sturgess.
Council Member Long dialed back into the meeting now back in the meeting room. At 1:54 pm there were three people on the Zoom meeting.
There were no decisions as a result of the executive session.
Linda Gilbert, RMC, CMC
Caroga Town Clerk
Copyright © James McMartin Long 2017–2021