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State of New York

County of Fulton

Town of Caroga

Minutes of an emergency Caroga Town Board meeting held Saturday February 20, 2021 at the municipal building located at 1840 State Highway #10 at 10:00 am with the following persons in attendance by roll call. The flag salute followed.

Supervisor Scott Horton – Here in Town Hall

Council Member John Glenn – Here via Telluride Colorado

Council Member James Long – Here in Caroga somewhere

Council Member Richard Sturgess – Here via Kissimmee Florida

Council Member Donald Travis – Here in Town Hall

Supervisor Horton, Council Member Travis and the town clerk were in the supervisor’s office. Tor Shekerjian – Confidential Secretary to the Supervisor facilitated the Zoom meeting. There were 28 people on line using Zoom.

Supervisor Horton opened the meeting at 10:00 am by reading the prepared statement as follows:

“This is an exciting day for the Town of Caroga. Despite the many obstacles and challenges the town has faced these past three months with a fire and dealing with COVID-19 restrictions, we have succeeded.

I will be asking the Town Board to approve two new positions to properly manage the Nick Stoner Golf Course, and, just as importantly, to hire two, highly qualified individuals to fill these positions. Due to Civil Service regulations, both candidates will need to be appointed provisionally until the new positions are processed. I worked diligently to get this accomplished this week from the Town’s end, and the positions have been approved of by the Fulton County Personnel Department. They assured me that they will expedite the paperwork and get it back to us.

The two new candidates are both committed to providing the town with a new and modern management style. The course superintendent position is to be filled by Steven Stedman, currently working as an assistant course superintendent at the very prestigious Buffalo Country Club in western New York. He has worked at several top-name golf courses and has readied courses for PGA play. His extensive knowledge of course management will translate into superior playing conditions at Nick Stoner. Together the town and Steve will use modern practices of golf course management to improve tees, fairways, and greens. We will renovate the cart paths and develop plans for the future.

To assist Steve in the development of the course’s future, we have hired Stephen Kay, a professor at the prestigious Rutgers University, to review the Nick Stoner Golf Course and develop a top rated blueprint for future improvements to the course. Mr. Kay has worked on designs of well over one hundred courses and is an expert in the classic design features of Nick Stoner.

And now, the all-important club house [position] (Club House Manager.) I will be presenting a local, well known candidate, Jerry Groom III, to manage the day to day club house operations. Jerry, is a college graduate and a scratch golfer, he has worked for several years at Nick Stoner. He knows the course and the players well. With Jerry’s energy, enthusiasm, and love of the game, players will see many positive changes.

We will join the 21st century with an online tee-time reservation system. We will also install a point of sale accounting system that will collect the data. Which in the business world we call “metrics”. The town needs to properly manage the club house and play, and assure the taxpayers that we have strong financial controls.

I know many in our community had concerns over the future of the Nick Stoner Golf Course. By separating the two main functions of golf course management, as is customary in the industry, we will have greater success at managing our classic golf course and improving player experience. We will have two highly qualified individuals doing proper course management at a cost virtually the same as we spent for a single individual. But we will have twice the service.

Also, with the town now taking over the golf cart rental function with brand new golf carts, the additional revenue of $35,000 will provide the course with much needed improvements.

This is a pivotal and exciting time for the Town and for the Nick Stoner Golf Course. Most of all I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the help, assistance and guidance by my fellow steering committee members – Gene Centi, Rick Sturgess, and Denny Fincke. This has been a lot of hard work and long evenings on your part under extremely trying conditions and circumstances. Your tireless effort will be appreciated by the town and the golfers for years to come. Thank you so very, very much!”

Supervisor Horton introduced the following resolutions.

RESOLUTION #2021-0026 to Appoint Steven M. Stedman to the position of Golf Course Superintendent was offered by Supervisor Horton at an emergency meeting held on Saturday February 20, 2021 at 10:00 am at Town Hall.

WHEREAS, the Town of Caroga owns and operates the Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course (the “Course”); and

WHEREAS, the Course is a source of pride for the community and enriches the Town, its residents, and the many visitors that it draws each year; and

WHEREAS, the Caroga Golf Course Steering Committee (the “Committee”) has been tasked by the Town Board to undertake a thorough review of the Course and its needs to ensure a sustainable, vibrant future for the Course and the Town that it serves; and

WHEREAS, among other things, the Committee has determined that there exists an immediate need for the position of Golf Course Superintendent, recommends that such position be created as soon as practicable, and the Board agrees with such recommendation; and

WHEREAS, the Committee has undertaken a thorough and comprehensive search for qualified candidates to fill the Golf Course Superintendent position and has provided the Board with the name of a highly qualified candidate; and

WHEREAS, the Board wishes to create the position of Golf Course Superintendent and appoint the qualified candidate to fill such position.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board hereby creates the position of Golf Course Superintendent with an annual salary of $65,000 per year with vacation, holiday, health insurance and retirement benefits under civil service; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board hereby appoints Steven M. Stedman to the position of Golf Course Superintendent on a provisional basis pending action by the Fulton County Civil Service Commission, with an effective start date of March 8, 2021.

Seconded by Council Member Glenn

Discussion: Council Member Long stated that the resolution claims that the Caroga Golf Course Steering Committee had been tasked by the town board to undertake a thorough review of the course. The scope at the time the golf course steering committee was created by resolution it was only the club house and now you are trying to justify going beyond that. This is unprecedented that we are hiring the highest paid individual in the town without the town board interviewing, without the town board having an executive secession or anything like this. This is going way beyond the scope of the golf course steering committee. Notwithstanding that Council Member Long did take it upon himself to speak with Mr. Stedman and reviewed his qualifications. He supports him. It is not anything against him. Council Member Long stated he thinks he is an excellent candidate given the fact that the board is unwilling to have Steve Jennings return. “He is an excellent choice.” Council Member Long stated government is the problem, we are not following our own procedures.

Adopted by a roll call vote as follows:

Supervisor Scott Horton - Aye

Council Member John Glenn - Aye

Council Member James Long - Aye

Council Member Richard Sturgess - Yes

Council Member Donald Travis - Yes

RESOLUTION #2021-027 to Appoint Jerry Groom III to the position of Golf Clubhouse Manager was offered by Supervisor Horton at an emergency meeting held on Saturday February 20, 2021 at 10:00 am at Town Hall.

WHEREAS, the Town of Caroga owns and operates the Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course (the “Course”); and

WHEREAS, the Course is a source of pride for the community and enriches the Town, its residents, and the many visitors that it draws each year; and

WHEREAS, the Caroga Golf Course Steering Committee (the “Committee”) has been tasked by the Town Board to undertake a thorough review of the Course and its needs to ensure a sustainable, vibrant future for the Course and the Town that it serves; and

WHEREAS, among other things, the Committee has determined that there exists an immediate need for the position of Golf Clubhouse Manager, recommends that such position be created as soon as practicable, and the Board agrees with such recommendation; and

WHEREAS, the Committee has undertaken a thorough and comprehensive search for qualified candidates to fill the Golf Clubhouse Manager position and has provided the Board with the name of a highly qualified candidate; and

WHEREAS, the Board wishes to create the position of Golf Clubhouse Manager and appoint the qualified candidate to fill such position.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board hereby creates the position of Golf Clubhouse Manager with an hourly salary of $18.00 per hour with vacation and holiday benefits, health insurance benefits, and civil service retirement benefits once the Civil Service status has been established by the Fulton County Personnel Department; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board hereby appoints Jerry Groom III to the position of Golf Clubhouse Manager on a provisional basis pending action by the Fulton County Civil Service Commission, with an effective start date of 2/22/2021.

Seconded by

Council Member Long interjected that he wanted to amend the resolution to remove the third paragraph because this is trying to get into the record the power of the golf course steering committee which does not have that power and was not tasked as such.

The clerk asked if Council Member Long had seconded this resolution. Council Member Long stated he was proposing/moving an amendment.

Supervisor Horton stated before we do this we have to have a second otherwise the motion is dead, then the board can entertain your amendment.

Council Member Sturgess seconded the motion.

Discussion: Council Member Long moved to remove paragraph three because this purports to give the steering committee powers that it was not tasked with at its creation.

Supervisor Horton counted paragraphs and stated it was paragraph five. The Supervisor asked Council Member Long if he wanted to substitute something else. Council Member Long stated the resolution stands on its own without the third paragraph. He stated the third paragraph is in conflict with the resolution that created…. Council Member Long stated and in deed the fourth paragraph is also in conflict because again the Golf Course Steering Committee was not tasked with this. He had no problem with the Town hiring Jerry Groom that is not the issue here. It’s that the Golf Course Steering Committee scope has been expanded without due process. The resolution that created the steering committee tasks it with just the club house. Here and now it has morphed into something that it never was. Council Member Long asked that the resolution be amended to remove the third and fourth paragraphs. He would second that resolution.

Council Member Sturgess stated if the fourth paragraph were removed then the position would not be created.

Council Member Long stated that paragraph now therefore be it resolved would create the position. The next to the last paragraph gets it created.

Council member Sturgess stated the steering committee has to see the future of the club house. He thought this was part of the club house. He stated that the Club house Manager is definitely part of the Club house.

Council Member Long stated that both resolutions were flawed in that they gave the committee powers that it was not created with. This is a chronic problem we have here, going beyond the scope of what has been created or what is allowed. Council Member Long again stated he absolutely has no problem with Jerry Groom. He stated he was going to vote for hiring him. Council Member Long did not want the language to imply that Golf Course Steering Committee should have any involvement in hiring positions. This is a board process. Only the board should be doing the hiring. Council Member Long stated the Board should have been doing the interviewing just like they did for the Sole Assessor. “We are going off the rails in our government.”

Council Member Sturgess asked Council Member Long how many times he interviewed a diver for the weed harvesting program, or a boat wash station employee. They are all employed by the town.

Council Member Long stated these are very different positions. Years ago the manager of the Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting (DASH) program was tasked with hiring. Council Member Long stated these are civil service positions and this is a Town Board responsibility. He did not think the board could remove themselves from or delegate the process.

Supervisor Horton thought Council Member Long had made his point. Supervisor Horton thought it was important that the citizens in the Town of Caroga know one thing and know it clearly we are in almost a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) like situation. The Supervisor stated he did wish the process could have been slowed down and gotten everybody involved. He did give Council Member Long some credit toward that. The Supervisor hopes that he would understand that the Steering Committee has been working and they did take it to its fullest extent by looking at these candidates and thinking of these things, having discussions. Supervisor Horton stated many times they were up until 8:30 – 9:00 pm talking back and forth with each other. The committee has worked so hard. Eventually Supervisor Horton stated, “The citizens are going to decide whether we did the right thing or the wrong thing.” The Supervisor applauded the board members and the committee members for everything they’ve done. Supervisor Horton stated he is looking at 6 – 7 weeks before the course is open and there is nobody in place.

Council Member Long stated this is a big deal. We are hiring the most expensive salary that we ever hired as a town. This is not a trivial matter. Supervisor Horton noted he did not say it was trivial at all. The Supervisor is coming from an emergency situation/status. We cannot afford to lose a five-million-dollar golf course because we forgot to dot an” I” or cross a “T” procedurally. Supervisor Horton again noted the amount of work the committee has done, reaching out to the golf community. He noted the concerns voiced by the public in the 80 emails saying they had concerns about the golf course. “What are you going to do about the Golf Course?”

Supervisor Horton stated there was not a second to the motion presented by Council Member Long.

Supervisor Horton closed the discussion. (Gavel) Council Member Long stated the amendment was closed but the board is still in discussion on the original motion.

Council Member Long asked for the floor. Supervisor Horton asked that he be brief.

Council Member Long proceeding by saying Supervisor Horton has spoken of the Golf Course Steering Committee interviewing. This should have been us, the Town Board. If the Golf Course Steering Committee was meeting as a committee then that should have been publiclypublically announced and the meetings should have been accessible via Zoom. Council Member Long knows there was one Golf Course Steering Committee meeting right before the last monthly meeting. He was not aware of any other meetings of the Golf Course Steering Committee. Council Member Long stated the board should have been the ones doing the interviewing. This is not how town government should work.

Supervisor Horton stated the council member’s points were taken. Council Member Glenn has asked that the resolution be brought for a vote.

Adopted by a roll call vote as follows:

Council Member John Glenn - Aye

Council Member James Long - Aye

Council Member Richard Sturgess - Yes

Council Member Donald Travis - Aye

Supervisor Scott Horton – Aye

Supervisor Horton thanked everybody for attending this Saturday morning meeting. The Supervisor hopes everyone is well, that they stay safe, and wear a mask. The Supervisor stated we are not anywhere out of the woods. He thanked everyone for all of their support.

At 10:21 am Council Member Long made a motion to adjourn. Council Member Sturgess seconded the motion. All board members were heard to say they were in favor of the motion.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda Gilbert, RMC, CMC

Caroga Town Clerk

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