Town Of Whitestown

April 02, 2003: Regular Town Board Meeting

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, 2003 7:05 PM

Matthew J. Shannon, Supervisor
Charles R. Gibbs, II, Councilman
William Copperwheat, Councilman
Brian Brooks, Councilman
Daniel Sullivan, Councilman

William Schmitt, Attorney
Joanne Zegarelli, Town Clerk
Nancy Hartman, Personnel/Finance Director
Sal Granato, Highway Superintendent
Karl Schrantz, Town Engineer/MWH
Donald Wolanin, Police Chief
Jack DelMonte, Foreman Bldgs./Grounds
Rose Kurczyk, Senior Director

The meeting was opened at 7:05 PM, roll call of board members, moment of silence and Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.

Upon the motion of Councilman Brooks, seconded by Councilman Gibbs, it is RESOLVED, that the Town Board accept the minutes from the 03/19/03 meeting.
All voted aye.
Motion carried.

Sal Granato addressed the Board. He referenced a report of phone calls he has received in his department and showed the Board pictures of projects he has worked on throughout the winter.

Chief Donald Wolanin addressed the Board. He stated that the Spectrum Justice System program is up and running. Chief Wolanin stated that the County, through the Government Traffic Safety Committee is offering a grant in which he would like to apply. This grant would cover a list of items such as breathalyzers, radar equipment, public information education, etc. Chief Wolanin further stated that there would be a program offered at the Community Center entitled “KidsCare” and gave a report.

Upon the motion of Councilman Brooks, seconded by Councilman Sullivan, it is
RESOLVED, that the Town Board gave permission to the Whitestown Police Department to apply for the grant offered by the Government Traffic Safety Committee.
All voted aye.
Motion carried.

Buildings & Grounds
Jack DelMonte addressed the Board. He stated all work in his department has been basic maintenance. He further that the Town has received an insurance payment on the water damage to Town Hall. He has been unsuccessful on receiving quotes for the repairs. Since this amount is incorporated in a bulk payment, and if cashed the Town would be settling on the amount specified. Discussion followed. The attorney will draft a letter returning the check received and asking that a new check to be drafted minus the amount referencing the water damage.

Karl Schrantz addressed the Board. He stated that the water projects are moving along. He referred to Suttliff Road wetland permit and the inter-municipal agreement that is being drafted. Plans for Water District 1 - Contract 5 is underway. Regarding contract 3 and 4 the contractors will return when the ground dries up. He has a certificate of substantial completion concerning the landfill remediation project from Dale Grifffin and asked the Board to approve the supervisor to sign.

Upon the motion of Councilman Copperwheat, seconded by Councilman Gibbs, it is
RESOLVED, that the Town Board gave permission for the Supervisor to sign the Certificate of Substantial Completion regarding the Landfill Remediation Project.
All voted aye.
Motion carried.

The Supervisor asked Karl to elaborate on when Water District 1- Contract 5 would be ready to bid. Karl stated that the process is underway, however, the retirement of many state employees has created slower development. He estimated about 45 days. Discussion followed regarding the sidewalk system. Topcoat and maintenance should be completed by Memorial Day. Further discussion was had regarding placing a sidewalk on Westmoreland Road from the village line up to West Street.

Town Clerk
Joanne Zegarelli addressed the Board. She reviewed the minutes from February and noticed that there was a numbering error regarding the vouchers. An explanation was given regarding this stating that it was a number change only, not a dollar amount. She asked the Board for the following resolutions.

Upon the motion of Councilman Brooks, seconded by Councilman Gibbs, it is
RESOLVED, that the Town Board agree to correct the voucher numbers stated on the February minutes regarding Highway DA & DB account from #41 - 89 to #41 - 95.
All voted aye.
Motion carried.
Upon the motion of Councilman Brooks, seconded by Councilman Gibbs, it is
RESOLVED, that the Town Board agree to correct the voucher numbers stated on the February minutes regarding the General Fund B account from #13 – 37 to #13 – 36.
All voted aye.
Motion carried.

Joanne also stated that she has given each board member their copy to the Code of the Town of Whitestown. They will find it in their mailbox.

Finance & Personnel
Nancy Hartman did not have anything new to report.

Supervisor Shannon addressed the Board on behalf of Rose Kurczyk. He wished Sophie Zabry a Happy 90th Birthday.

Councilman Brooks stated that both code officers are in class tonight. He stated that building permits are starting to pick up. Nancy Hartman stated that the computer for this department was delivered today.

Public Comment
John Dote, Oneida County Independence Party Chairman addressed the Board. He stated that he was compelled to come before them tonight regarding an issue. Mr. Dote referred to a resolution regarding amending the Empire Zone. He suggested that the Board review this resolution very carefully and take particular note of the paragraph that states if a zone is changed and there is no plan to develop or use it within a nine-month period, the Town would lose the right to these zones. At this point the designated land will be placed in a bank for the County to control. He stated that he does not endorse this resolution in its present form.

Supervisor Shannon stated that the Board is aware of the last paragraph and there is a representative with them tonight from EDGE to speak on this subject.

Mr. Dote asked the Board exactly what EDGE has done for the Town this past year? He stated that this agency has not brought any new business to the Town, he further stated that he is not telling the Board how to vote, however to look at this resolution carefully. Discussion followed with questions and comments.

Supervisor Shannon stated that this past year 15 businesses have applied for benefits from this empire zone program. It is his understanding that in order for these businesses to move forward with the screening process, the Board would have to pass this resolution. He asked Shawna Papale from the Empire Zone Board for her comments.

Shawna Papale, an employee of Mohawk Valley EDGE and also the Zone Coordinator for the Oneida Herkimer County Empire Zone addressed the Board. She referred to the nine-month phrase. She stated that the State said to the Empire Zone do another boundary amendment, put in another zone application before January 15th so that you can do more sub-zones. They went through an open competitive process. The Oneida Herkimer County zone, like every zone, must follow a development policy. Part of this policy reads that if a zone does not have activity within a nine-month period it will then be reviewed. She further stated that at that point they couldn’t just come in and take away this zoned land. Policy stated that they would have to go to the Town Board and ask for a resolution to be passed first. The Empire Zone administrative board does not have the authority to take zoned land away just because the nine-month period had passed. She stated that every municipality that has businesses who are asking to be included, have this clause in their resolution. This nine-month phrase was placed for protection against businesses that want to be included in the zone process, but then after applications are filled, the businesses do not follow the appropriate guidelines to be certified. Ms. Papale further stated that since the past resolution the Oneida Herkimer County Empire Zone has certified 22 businesses in Whitestown, including the villages. She stated that there have been projects in some of these businesses that experienced growth and expansion because of the zone program. She stated that there are businesses now asking to be included and she encouraged the board to pass this resolution. Much discussion followed with questions and comments. Councilman Copperwheat spoke of the wording of the resolution and Shawna Papale stated that the resolution could be re-worded. Explanations of procedures and purposes of the Empire Zone were had. Again, much discussion followed.

William Goodman, Oneida County Legislator addressed the Board. He referenced the past two months of legislation that has come before the County. One in particular that Mr. Goodman mentioned on March 26th the County Board authorized the County Executive to submit an application to the Governor’s office for small cities grant totaling $600,000.00 to establish a three part housing program. This program is entitled ‘Safe Program Senior Assistance for the Elderly’. This provides an opportunity for low-income owners to address emergency repairs though a three-year forgivable loan program. Mr. Goodman followed by mentioning the criteria for eligibility. Mr. Goodman gave a report of many other resolutions passed by the County Board of Legislators. Councilman Gibbs addressed Mr. Goodman. He asked about the Oneida County Fire Training Tower located in Whitestown and inquired if this project would be completed and/or if there was money in the budget to complete. Mr. Goodman stated he would find that information and report back to the Board.

Old Business
Discussion was had regarding Kevin Todd.

New Business
The Town Attorney gave a brief explanation regarding the following resolution.

Richard E. Alexander, Jr. Assessment Reduction
April 2, 2003
Motioned by Councilman Gibbs
Seconded by Councilman Copperwheat
WHEREAS, Richard E. Alexander, Jr. (hereinafter “Alexander”) is the owner of a certain parcel of land commonly known as 5920 Airport Road, Oriskany, New York, and described for the tax year 2002-2003 on the tax rolls of the Town of Whitestown as Parcel No. 290.000-2-19 with assessment of $950,000.00 (hereinafter referred to as the “subject premises”); and

WHEREAS, Alexander has commenced a proceeding in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Oneida, pursuant to Article 7 of the Real Property Tax Law to reduce the total assessment of his property for the tax year 2002-2003, seeking a reduction in the assessment thereof to $475,000.00 (Index No. CA 2002-1816); and

WHEREAS, the Town of Whitestown has appeared by William P. Schmitt, Esq., Town Attorney in defense of said petition on behalf of the Town; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court, the Honorable Norman I. Siegel presiding, strongly recommended during a pre-trial conference that the assessment be reduced to $600,000.00 in full satisfaction of the claims in said petition, which sum represents the price paid by the petitioner to acquire the subject premises, further noting the recent loss by the petitioner of the national hotel franchise associated with the subject premises; and

WHEREAS, in anticipation of a trial of this matter scheduled to commence on June 6, 2003, the parties entertained extensive negotiations during conferences before the Court, addressing the respective strengths and weaknesses of their respective positions; and

WHEREAS, based upon such negotiations, the Town Attorney and Assessor believe that it would be in the Town’s best interests to settle this matter without the necessity of a formal trial by a reduction in the assessment against the subject property from $950,000.00 to $600,000.00, so as to avoid the cost and expense of trial and the attendant uncertainty of outcome associated therewith; and

WHEREAS, it appears to be in the best interest of the Town of Whitestown to seek Court approval pursuant to Section 68 of the Town Law to reduce the total assessment of the subject property for the aforesaid tax year from $950,000.00 to $600,000.00 without the payment of interest on any refund generated as a result thereof;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT: RESOLVED, that the Town Supervisor and/or Town Attorney be and they hereby are authorized to petition the Supreme Court, State of New York, Oneida County, for approval of said Court to reduce the total assessment on the subject property owned by Alexander from $950,000.00 to $600,000.00 for the tax year 2002-2003 and to otherwise authorize the payment of refunds without the computation of interest thereon; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Town Supervisor and/or Town Attorney be authorized to execute a Stipulation of Discontinuance and/or other such documentation to effectuate the intent of this resolution, and the settlement of the aforementioned claim.
All voted aye.
Motion carried.

Discussion was had regarding the opening of the Skate Park. A suggestion by Councilman Sullivan was made to open the middle of May, weeknights from 4 until dusk and weekends. The Town will be hiring help.

A motion was made by Councilman Copperwheat to authorize the Supervisor to sign a contract with AMTEK for reviewing the employee handbook. For the purpose of discussion, Councilman Sullivan motioned a second. Supervisor Shannon stated the proposed cost would not exceed $5,000.00, and he would like to see this move forward. Discussion was had regarding the cost. There being a first and second motion, upon the adoption of the foregoing resolution the following voted;
Councilman Gibbs, Nay
Councilman Copperwheat, Aye
Councilman Brooks, Nay
Councilman Sullivan, Nay
Supervisor Shannon, Nay
Motion not carried.

Supervisor Shannon asked the Board to refine the resolution regarding the Empire Zone amendments in order to proceed on.

A motion was made by Councilman Copperwheat to accept the amendments regarding the Empire Zone providing the nine-month clause is removed. For the purpose of discussion, Councilman Gibbs motioned a second. Discussion was had and the Board agreed to table until the next meeting.
Councilman Copperwheat rescinded his motion.

Supervisor Shannon stated that New York Mills has applied for a small cities grant for reimbursement of $500,000.00 to demolish Mill #2. The village is looking for the endorsement of the Town. Supervisor Shannon has drafted a letter of endorsement, which includes the entire board. He is asking for a motion for the entire board to sign and send said letter.

Upon the motion of Councilman Sullivan, Seconded by Councilman Brooks, it is
RESOLVED, that the Town Board approved to sign and send the letter of endorsement as so stated above.
All voted aye.
Motion carried.

Paid to Supervisor for General Fund -- $454.76
Paid to Supervisor for Part Town Fund-- $1,488.00
Paid to NYS DEC for Conservation Licenses -- $22.67
Paid to County Treasurer for Dog Licenses -- $70.82
Paid to Agriculture & Markets for Dog Licenses -- $6.00
Paid to NYS Department of Health for Marriage Licenses -- $56.25
Paid to NYS Comptroller for Games of Chance Licenses -- $15.00
Total Disbursements-- $2,113.50

There being no further business to come before the Town Board, upon the motion of Councilman Brooks, seconded by Councilman Gibbs, the meeting was adjourned at 8:26PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Joanne Zegarelli
Town Clerk