My notes on the Town Board Workshop Meeting Sept 15, 2014
The meeting opened sharply at 7 PM with all Board members present. it opened with an appearance of Robert Beaury, who is both the Social Studies teacher in the Germantown schools, and the Town Justice. He first spoke with the Board about his practice of setting up an internship with students from his group and individual members of the Board. This term he wants to set up his students as a group of “research clerks” for the Board and asked the Board to participate again. The students “ are working on projects all the time and they can fit in anything you might think to ask them to do as a research task”. Please, nothing of a partisan or essentially a “political” nature, but consider them a source for researched data. The Board is happy to accept. Several ideas were mentioned by Board members, and they will apply their thinking to come up with some suitable tasks for these students.
Speaking as “Judge Beaury” he discussed briefly the next round of JCAP grants coming down the line. He asks the Board to advise him of any particular items he could include in any application he makes. The new security doors, installed now in Town Hall, are an example of equipment designed for heightened security for the Court that benefits the Town as well. For another example, the more comfortable chairs in the meeting room come from a JCAP grant for the court. [They benefit security also, being attached and are therefore unable to be used by an angry person to pick up and throw across the room.—Ed.]
Next was Mr. Peter Volkmann, a retired police officer who now does consulting work for small municipalities. He listed the places he had worked for, including Kinderhook and Chatham. He has offered to do a study of our Police Department and make some suggestions about how to improve efficiency and how to improve its public relations. He said often townspeople don’t have a good understanding of just what they do and what they don’t do. He offered his services to the Town for a small charge for mileage and specific small expenses. He would be able to issue a report in three to three & a half months. The Town Board will contemplate this offer and get back to him.
Former Superintendent Roy Brown came in to join the discussion. First he spoke as a member of the Lions’ Club about the up-coming Apple Festival scheduled for Saturday, September 20th (NEXT SATURDAY!!)
There are more vendors more activities (especially children’s activities), more music, more food, beer, and in the evening: FIREWORKS! THESE ARE FROM THE SAME GROUP THAT DOES THE 4TH OF JULY FiREWORKS.
More detailed INFORMATION AT http://www.hudsonvalleyapplefestival.com/
Roy then put on his hat as the head of the Fire Commissioners to discuss the NY State Audit that had been released citing several incorrect practices and an excess Reserve fund, etc. Roy told the Board and the audience that most of the items that had been cited had already been rectified. They are setting up a more formal structure to make sure that the requirements for good fiscal management were observed. There had been a criticism about a service contract that had been awarded without proper bidding. The original contract had been properly bid out, but when the next yearly period came along they just kept the same person and the same terms, but failed to put it out to bid. This has been corrected. Roy said they were scheduling their equipment purchasing in a clear manner now so major acquisitions can be anticipated and planned for. They will have a new Procurement Policy in place. In addition, they are developing new official Policies to meet every situation, such as the use of Social Media, Drugs and Alcohol, Travel and Credit Card usage, etc. They had not kept adequate records, but now have been alerted to what is necessary. There will be a written response from the Commission about the specifics recommendations in the Audit within 90 days of the receipt of the Auditor’s report. Roy assures all that every instance will be addressed by the Commission and their Treasurer.
Joel then asked Matthew Phelan to report on his experience with the Fourth of July celebration. What were his goals? Were they met? What could be done better? Matthew responded with some issues he was not so happy with. There was not enough coordination for the deployment of the volunteers they had. He felt the parking went well, though they could have used a few more people. Roger Rekow asked “Did you break even?” The answer being “yes”, Roger deemed the event a success. To have broken even although the day had to be rescheduled because of impending rain on Saturday was truly a success. Matthew said the cancellation and rescheduling of the Fireworks had been a stressful burden, especially when he didn’t have a good reliable way to communicate that it was happening. They put it on the website and contacted many people and simple word-of-mouth seemed to have done the job. He would feel better if there was a fall-back plan for postponement known to everyone.
Matthew said they could have used more vendors Roy suggests they hand out flyers to the vendors at the Apple Festival to recruit them for next year’s event. It’s not too early to start hunting vendors, because they book up almost a year in advance. The Lions Club had learned many lessons and Roy said they should cooperate to make both events a success. “Two pillars, one at the beginning of Summer , the other in the fall, will make Germantown the place to go to.
The Board praised Matthew for his great effort to bring the whole event into being!. They briefly discussed other areas where information could be shared. Joel advises that the Town has improved an access road to the area for the Fireworks—less wet, and graveled for the trucks that need to go back there. Roger says they could use a bit more security near the fireworks prior to the show to deter wanderers back there near the launch pad.
Matthew says there should be a “Host”for the event to be on the loudspeakers to make sure all events are known by attendees. (Existing sound system needs to be improved—a potential budget item) Joel tells Matthew that the 4th of July does not need to be a “Money Maker” to be a success. If they should increase attendance as the celebration continues to deliver a fun day for people, the Town are more likely to come out ahead. Matthew says there he would like to have a dinner for the volunteers, to congratulate them and seek their comittment for the following year. “And everyone should bring along a friend, too.” He says.
Matthew turned to the Budget process. Since this is his first budget he was not aware of the exact process to make it a good way to set the costs and the priorities for the town. Joel says the department heads have already turned their “wish lists” in to him for review. At next week’s Board meeting they will set the dates for the several Budget Workshop meetings that will fit into the time frame set up by the State of NY for the adoption of the yearly budget. The Accountant has been asked to supply certain reports to help put the figures into context.
Matthew says the big items must be the sewer repairs and the sidewalk construction. Don Westmore says there are special items that they will try to fund—street lights in the hamlet, & trees to be planted to be planned along with the construction of the sidewalk. Roy says it is important to make sure the electric conduits are put in at the same time.
Matthew mentions the work to be done in the fields. This brings out a sprightly conversation about how hard it is to get the two sporting groups (Little League and the Soccer Club) to come together with a plan of what they want. The Town has tried to come up with soccer fields that exist separately from the fields the ball players use, but it has no guiding principle right now. Matthew thinks they all need to get together with the clubs and work something out. [This will be a challenge.—Ed.]
Joel turns to Mike Mortenson and Andrea Dunn to speak about the effort to cooperate with the Red Cross to some extent about the Town’s Emergency Management Plan. There has been some reluctance to bringing in the Red Cross because it has so many requirements that the Town might not be able to provide. Mike says they can cooperate on the first or lowest level of engagement. Andrea says what they can do is get training from the Red Cross—it does that very well. The issues for setting up emergency shelters in town for any extended time are rather overwhelming. The Kellner Activities Building is lacking in handicapped facilities among other things, like no showers available, so it can only serve for rather short term shelter. However, there are things that can be done. Mike says the County Emergency Management is well organized, with a comprehensive Plan and is the first place the Town should turn to for immediate help. But thanks to the committee, the Town does have a Plan for what it can do Discussion turns to individuals on the Board who need to be certified for some emergency skills. Joel is the point man because only he has the authority to sign paperwork for the town.
At this point I had to leave the meeting, at 8:50 PM, but my understanding is that the meeting adjourned soon after that, so I think I haven’t missed a lot. (I hope) It was a fruitful meeting, I believe.
To the best of my ability:
Kay Abraham 537-5404