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Hector town board 08/11/09

Meeting: The Town of Hector Board met Tuesday, Aug. 11, in the Town Hall. The meeting lasted two hours and 31 minutes.
Attendance: All board members were present: Ben Dickens, supervisor; board members Mike Bergen, Tom Mangus, Marie Stevens, Alvin White and Cliff Yaw. Jane Ike, town Clerk, also attended. Approximately eight members of the public were in the audience.
Action: The board passed the following measures unanimously except where noted:
• Approved prior meetings minutes, including special sessions in July. Board approved various accounting journal entries and approved payment of audited bills.
• Board met in executive session to discuss a personnel issue. Upon agreeing to return to public session, the board passed a resolution to pay the newly appointed water superintendent, Robert Stapleton, an extra $500 starting annual salary in order to match his current salary and ensure a lateral move to his new position. This brings Stapleton’s starting annual salary to $45,500. His start date will be Sept. 8.
• An extended discussion was held regarding the proposed tax funding for the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED). Dickens and Burdett Mayor, Dale Walter, explained a proposed change of funding. Currently, SCOPED receives its public funding from individual town and county contributions. The Schuyler County Council of Governments proposes that the funding come from a new formula based on sales taxes proportionally distributed to the county and the towns from the overall sales tax rate. Walter explained to the board that attaching the town’s contribution to SCOPED to the sales tax distribution to Hector would standardize and simplify the funding arrangements. He further pointed out that SCOPED is among the lowest-funded agencies of similar purpose in the state, despite its important mission to enhance economic development, which is the key benefit the private/public SCOPED brings to county residents. More county growth means higher sales tax revenue to share with the towns, according to Dickens. Stevens took exception to this justification for change. Stevens firmly insisted that the plan to automatically dock town sales tax proceeds to fund SCOPED would place pressure on the only other major source of town revenues, the property tax. She decried the proposal as taking taxpayer money to fund an uncertain enterprise that may or may not produce more sales tax revenue to justify its existence. Sharing sales tax revenue is not a small matter. Sales tax revenue to the towns projected for 2009 range from $37,000 in the town of Cayuta to $658,000 in the town of Hector, apportioned according to population. The Council of Governments proposes to retain five percent of the sales tax revenue to the towns before the normal distribution of funds take place. Carl Langenfeld, town code enforcement official but speaking as a member of the public, advised board members that agreeing to the proposed sales tax formula would surrender control and oversight to the county as part of an automatic funding system. Currently, the towns have to specifically approve their funding levels and can question the activities and effectiveness of SCOPED. The board agreed to continue discussion of the proposal at their next meeting in September, leaving room for much more discussion on the topic.
• Authorized the supervisor to write a letter denying a request from a seasonal camper in Smith Park, who petitioned the board for a free weekend stay over Labor Day weekend as a remedy for a recent controversy over accommodations.
• Approved a provision to establish an acting manager of Smith Park should that position be needed before the park closes for the season Oct. 15. Also approved an extension of three lifeguard and laborer positions through Oct. 15 to help close up the park as the season winds down after Labor Day.
• Authorized the supervisor to write a letter to a resident of West Seneca Road, who requested a lowering of the speed limit on the road. The supervisor will request that the resident draft a petition for this purpose and secure the signatures of a majority of residents on the road before the town would consider action. Bergen dissented in the vote.
• Approved a procedural motion that the town has a master plan for Smith Park, but that it was not following the master plan for a specific project the town board favors that would upgrade the rudimentary water supply system for Smith Park campers. A sister motion was made to approve town spending up to $75,000 to match an expected grant of a similar size to make these water supply repairs.
• Approved the lower of two quotes to spray wash and paint the roof of the town pole barn equipment storage facility for $600 and to power spray and paint the highway garage for $2,000.
• Resolved to hold a public hearing at the next regular monthly meeting of the board to discuss the creation of a position of town constable. The constable would be vested with the power to arrest and to be the bailiff at the town court sessions. The constable would also have the responsibility of serving process and official papers from the town as needed. The public hearing will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 8, 2009 at the town hall in Reynoldsville.
• Approved allocating $800 for constructing a sign at the corner of Routes 227 and 228 in Perry City that would welcome motorists and other passersby to the town of Hector. It was further decided to spend $400 on perennial plantings around the sign. The sign will tentatively be carved to read: “Welcome to Schuyler County, Town of Hector, Home of the Finger Lakes National Forest.” It will be situated on town-owned land on the northwest corner of the intersection and the board anticipates it will be a very nice welcome to local residents and visitors alike.
• The board also determined without the need of a resolution that the supervisor should send a letter to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requesting the town be considered an “involved agency” to enable the town to receive certain advance warnings of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation under the town and to allow the town to more proactively set infrastructure protection measures effectively in the area of the drilling site.
Discussion without action: Fire insurance rates for town residents depend on a rating agency’s assessments based on a range of fire prevention and safety factors in evidence in the town’s infrastructure, standards of building codes and enforcement. An agency report, recently completed, rated Hector well ahead of other municipalities in the region, beating the state and national average metrics. Hector residents see the result of this work in lower fire insurance rates for their homes and businesses.
• Completed road surfacing. Additional $300,000 from reserve funds expended to add more projects to the scheduled items for the season. A grant from the National Forest will allow for resurfacing of Wyckoff Road and a stretch of Picnic Area and Potomac Roads. Next year, the funding, if continued, will allow for work on 1.5 miles of Chicken Coop Road.
• Discussed responding to a complaint from a resident about noise in the neighborhood. Noise ordinances are very complex undertakings. Noise levels are difficult to determine and to compare to a standard that the town would need to establish for monitoring. The issue was referred to the Comprehensive Plan Committee for consideration and recommendation to the full board.
Upcoming meeting: The next regular meeting will be held Tuesday Sept. 8, at the Town Hall at 7 p.m. The Hector Town Board usually meets on the evening of the second Tuesday of the month. The public is invited to attend.

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