The regular meeting of the Town Board of the Town of Mount Hope was held at Town Hall, 1706 Route 211 West, Otisville, NY on November 5, 2015 at 7:30pm with the following present: Supervisor Chad Volpe, Councilman Matt Howell, Councilman Gary Ketcham, Councilman Dominick Cambareri and Town Clerk Kathleen Myers. Not Present: Councilwoman Janet Sutherland
OFFICIALS PRESENT: H’way Supt. D. Hassenmayer, Police Chief P. Rickard, Atty G. Plotsky.
Supervisor Volpe called the meeting to order at 7:30pm following the Pledge of Allegiance.
RESOLUTION TO ACCEPT THE PRIOR MEETING MINUTES:
MOTION offered by Councilman Cambareri 2nd by Councilman Howell to approve the minutes from the 10-19-15 meeting as printed. All in favor: Howell, Ketcham, Volpe, Cambareri; carried.
- Howells Fire Dept. Public hearing 12-8-15 6pm-9pm at 26 Elm St. Howells NY
- Palmer’s Ark impound report 10-2015
- Shawangunk Kill Overlay District info from Sup’r Dan Depew
- Corres. From Sen. Bonacic re: receiving Pilgrim Pipeline resolution
- Corres: from Cty. Exec. S. Neuhaus re: Hazard Mitigation program
- Building dept. report 10-2015
- MHFC reports: 11-5-15
- Police Dept. budget modification
- Corres. from Councilwoman Sutherland re: unable to attend due to daughter making swim sections
POLICE DEPT. by Chief Rickard:
Chief Rickard spoke re: Halloween went very well. No problems this year. They did their first Tweet-a-thon which vent very well. Holly from the Epoch Times rode around with him. The budget modification is from the sale of the ATV and trailer. Garage doors were installed.
HIGHWAY DEPT. by Supt. Hassenmayer:
Supt. Hassenmayer asked permission to contact KC Engineering re: looking at the drainage in the older section of Hidden Valley. It’s been going on for as long as he’s been in charge. Two of the worst roads are Elm and Heather; mostly the whole older section. He would like for KC to come up with some drawings to possibly do the drainage next year. Supervisor asked if the board members had any concerns. He received board approval to contact KC Engineering. He reported that they took care of the drainage problem at the police center basement. He asked Councilman Cambareri about a dry well where the sump pump empties out on the lawn. Councilman Cambareri stated the further away from the building the better. The sump pump was lowered about 6”. Chief Rickard spoke to Steve Dodd. They have no idea what the water flow amount is so Dodd can’t give a definitive pump size. Cambareri stated a back-up pump will work, too. Supervisor asked about the furnace being fixed. Mr. Dodd spoke with the manufacturer of the new burner. They will be coming out to make the adjustments. There was no heat on election day, which was a freak occurrence where a spring went and the furnace wasn’t getting any oil. Supervisor thanked the Chief for taking care of the election day issue.
MOUNT HOPE FIRE COMPANY:
Chief Doty read the report into record. He asked the Supervisor if a message could go on the sign board about cleaning your chimneys/furnaces and checking batteries in smoke detectors & CO detectors.
Supervisor stated that next Saturday & the following Monday there will be CPR training down at Devan’s Gate.
RESOLUTION TO SELL THE 2010 CROWN VICTORIA TO THE VILLAGE OF OTISVILLE:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Cambareri to sell to the Village of Otisville the 2010 Crown Victoria for $2,600. All in favor: Howell, Ketcham, Volpe, Cambareri; carried.
Supervisor Volpe reported that Councilmen Howell & Ketcham will do the audit on Nov. 7, 2015.
SHAWANGUNK KILL PRESERVATION OVERLAY DISTRICT:
Supervisor Volpe asked the board if they would like more time to review this law. They will review and discuss at next meeting.
COUNTY HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN:
Supervisor Volpe explained this was taken care of. They (the county) are looking for someone from the town to go represent them for their meetings. He, Dean & Julie went to the 1st one. They have classes on what grants are available.
PAVILION CONTRACT CHANGE:
Supervisor Volpe explained the pavilion contract changed so that NO electric heaters can be plugged in up there.
RESOLUTION FOR THE AUDIT OF CLAIMS:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Cambareri to approve the following bills:
GENERAL B:#77-82$ 33,622.46
All in favor: Howell, Ketcham, Volpe, Cambareri; carried.
RESOLUTION TO APPROVE THE POLICE BUDGET MODIFICATION:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Cambareri to approve the following modification:
Increase revenue line 2665 by $4874.50 AND
Increase A3120.2 Police Equip. by $4874.50.
All in favor: Howell, Ketcham, Volpe, Cambareri; carried.
RESOLUTION TO SCHEDULE PUBLIC HEARING FOR GENERAL CODE BOOK:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Cambareri to schedule the public hearing for the General Code book on December 7, 2015 at 7:25pm. All in favor: Howell, Ketcham, Volpe, Cambareri; carried.
- Cook: asked if the town council was approached with regard to the person let go to make sure all rights/privileges involved are taken care of. Supervisor Volpe stated town supervisor, town clerk & highway superintendent are allowed one person at their discretion which supersedes the town board. It is out of the town board’s hands. Atty. Plotsky explained the positions that the supervisor was speaking about are all employees at will. They serve at the will of their employer who is their direct supervisor. As long as they are not discharged for reasons of race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation – they can be terminated at any time. Whether it was done before or after counsel was consulted, we don’t anticipate there being any basis or there being any issues or liability for the town. She is an employee at will.
- Furman: asked if someone is to be re-hired for that position, do they have to approach the board before that person could be hired? Supervisor: no. Atty. Plotsky: as long as there’s a provision in the budget & the budget has already been approved for next year – there’s a slot, there’s an amount to be paid. That becomes between the director of that department and that employee. It is an employee at will position. There doesn’t have to be any reason.
- Loeven: so I am clear, the deputy clerk position is not an appointee it is an employee even though she has some sovereign power of the town for licensing & things like that? Atty. Plotsky: she’s an appointee; a designee of the town clerk. Just like the deputy highway superintendent is an appointee of the highway superintendent and the confidential secretary to the supervisor is an appointee of his. They’re all still employees of the town. There’s no civil service protection. There’s no set term. Ms. Loeven is trying to set a parallel to the village. The village clerk is an appointee/employee of the village but is appointed for a specific term. So this is not the case for this position? Atty. Plotsky: not that I’m aware of.
- Gibson: asked who is paying the unemployment? Is it the taxpayers of Mount Hope? Supervisor Volpe: yes.
- McDonough: is appalled at the timing. If she needed to be let go, she should have been let go before the election. To be let go the day after is a bad reflection on this town. She is embarrassed/ashamed that a town employee would be treated whether at will or not at will.
- Cook: asked for an explanation for why it happened. Supervisor Volpe: I don’t think so.
- Furman: asked if the building inspector has the authority to issue a building permit. Supervisor: of course. Atty. Plotsky: for what? Furman: if I want to build something, under the guidelines of the town, do I go to the building inspector to get a permit? Atty. Plotsky: permit would come from the building inspector’s office but may be subject to review or approval by one or more other agencies/departments within the town. Furman: but the building inspector would approve it/issue the permit? Atty. Plotsky: yes, would issue the permit. Mr. Furman asked for an explanation as to why the building inspector would not have the authority to pull a permit. Atty. Plotsky: I don’t believe the building inspector doesn’t have the right to pull a permit. Mr. Furman: does the building inspector in our town have the right to pull a permit? Atty. Plotsky: I just indicated that he would be able to. Mr. Furman: does the town have a geologist on staff? Supervisor: no. Furman: the 4H gentleman is a geologist. Maybe the town should look into using him on a consultant basis. Supt. Hassenmayer: the engineering firm we use for the gravel bank, they have a geologist on staff. Furman: the town may need them for a consultant. He also asked about the funding for the lawsuit with Kiryas Joel for the land annexation and if the town was considering joining same. Supervisor stated that David stated that we are not contiguous with the other municipalities so it would do us more harm than good because it would become a race issue. The only municipalities that have put money towards this are the 9 municipalities that have anything to do with it.
- Gibson: do elected officials have the expectation of the public to answer their questions? Isn’t the official expected to answer? Atty. Plotsky: no that’s called term limits. Take it up at the next election. I want everyone to understand that elected officials don’t have much to answer for – they can act autonomously without bosses.
- Myers Sr.: It’s the same idea when someone is appointed to that position by a public official – they do so at their own discretion. There’s not a public outcry. There never has been a public outcry with regards to who is appointed.
- Maurizzio: She agrees and disagrees with Ms. McDonough. She doesn’t think it reflects on the town. It’s out of the control of the town as stated by the attorney. It reflects on the person that did the firing. The timing says it all in a nutshell. It’s politically motivated. After 13 years of service & if you have a problem with politics, then don’t discuss politics. Just do your work together.
- Hosking: In the Village of Otisville the town clerk is appointed. Don’t we have a provision that our town clerk could be an appointed position not an elected position? Supervisor: how that works is it would be subject to permissive referendum. If you did the research on it, 9 out of 10 towns that tried it – the people want the right to vote. He is not in favor of it. It’s our job to go out and vote for the person. That would give this board too much power. Atty. Bavoso: that’s also true of the highway supt. position; that could be an appointed position but would also be subject to permissive referendum.
- Musial: I was running for town clerk. I lost that race. I agree with you that that position should be at a town vote. Should not be an appointment. Gibson: disagrees, the people need to understand that the people they elect can do whatever they want to do.
- Dooley: Will the board discuss for the future an interview process (for employee protection) with the town board for the hiring/firing process? Supervisor: the 3 positions named will never be subject to town board decision. Atty. Plotsky: you’re correct. Dooley: I’m referring to appointed at will employees. Atty. Plotsky: those 3 positions are not subject to town board review or approval. The town board sets the budget. The only control the board has is they could eliminate the funding for the position. Then you would need a volunteer for that position.
Atty. Plotsky cont.: Every other town employee is protected by civil service protection and any other state or townwide protection. Dooley: I’m not referring to those 3 elected positions. Atty. Plotsky: the answer is it’s their department. It’s civil service protection. Dooley: I’m talking about the at will employees. Atty. Plotsky: there are no at will employees other than the 3 we’re referring to.
- Gibson: asked if Mr. Hassenmayer wants to hire someone, he brings them to the town board? Supervisor: yes Dean & I will interview them. Gibson: would you do that with your one person? Supervisor: that’s the one person I wouldn’t have to do that with. Gibson: is the town clerk required to do the same that Mr. Hassenmayer is doing? Supervisor: no. She only has 1 person in that office and that is the 1 person she can hire/fire herself without town board approval.
- Zgrodek: I understand that when I started in the justice court many years ago that the judge chose me as his court clerk. He brought it before the board. It doesn’t have to be approved by the board but if you said ‘we don’t want her’ I would still go to work as I was hired and I would work under duress. There was no approval- it was just a nicety to come before the board. Supervisor: I don’t know that they have the same protection. Atty. Plotsky: They’re under the caveat of OCA.
- Gibson: if any person has a bad experience with an elected official, to whom do they contact? Supervisor: if it isn’t me- it would be me. Atty. Plotsky: there are certain rules about sexual harassment or gender discrimination, things of that nature, those would trump the ability to…just because you serve at my whim and discretion, doesn’t mean I can take advantage of you. That would be an exception to the general rule. I can still hire or fire without board approval. Gibson: if I walk into an office of an elected official and I am treated poorly, who do I complain to? Atty. Plotsky: town supervisor. Then he would take that to the town board.
- Ketcham: thanked the board for coming to the ZBA meeting the other night. I’m glad to hear the applicant did not appear before the planning board. The planning board had no knowledge of this proposal.
VILLAGE OF OTISVILLE:
Trustee Loeven: they voted to approve the purchase of the Crown Victoria pending the town board’s approval.
Councilman Ketcham: 20 years ago the board tried to change the clerical elected positions to appointed and couldn’t do it. It has been tried. Supervisor: It can be done but it’s subject to permissive referendum.
RESOLUTION TO ENTER INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION:
MOTION offered by Councilman Cambareri 2nd by Councilman Howell to enter into executive session at 8:14pm to discuss litigation regarding the UTA Tax certiorari proceeding pending against the Town of Mount Hope – no action to be taken. All in favor: Howell, Ketcham, Volpe, Cambareri, carried.
RESOLUTION TO RECONVENE REGULAR SESSION:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Cambareri to reconvene the regular meeting from executive session at 8:41pm. All in favor: Howell, Ketcham, Volpe, Cambareri, carried.
RESOLUTION TO ADJOURN:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Ketcham to adjourn the meeting at 8:41pm. All in favor: Howell, Ketcham, Volpe, Cambareri, carried.
The next meeting is November 16th at 7:30pm at the Mount Hope Town Hall.
Kathleen A. Myers, Town Clerk