BY SARA GILBERT
The Town of Haverstraw board met on Monday, July 16 to discuss grant-funded projects, employee contracts, billing Rockland County and one resident’s concerns about noise and financial stability.
Supervisor Howard Phillips proudly announced that both the Bowline Park lights improvement project and new furniture for the courtroom will not be using any tax dollars. Instead lights for the park will be funded by a community development block grant and from the park land improvement fund if needed. And the justice court assistance program will pay for courtroom furniture.
The Bowline Park lights project was given to HVS of Garnerville, the lowest bidder, for $204,293. The grant will cover $190,000 and the rest will come from the improvement fund. The four chairs and two lecterns for the courtroom will cost $2,020 and will come from the assistance program. The furniture will come from the lowest bidder, which is Office Communications of Chestnut Ridge. The board approved both projects.
There were several new employee contracts approved.
Michael Laudien was hired as golf pro for the town’s Philip J. Rotella Memorial Golf Course. His contract terminates at the end of February 2015.
According to Phillips, Laudien receives a percentage of the money that comes in from his work and not a set salary. “It encourages him to promote the golf course and costs less than the typical $100,000 salary many municipalities are paying.”
Anthony Rocci, Police radio dispatcher, received a six-month leave of absence to work with the New York City Police Force and if he decides to return he may. They may give him another six months if he requires it.
Richard Hamilton resigned from his position as court officer in June 29 and was appointed the position of watchman for the parks department at an hourly rate of $12.82. He begins immediately.
“It’ll be a nice change of pace,” said Hamilton.
Jaclyn Gomez was appointed to the newly created full time position of office service aide for the town clerk’s office. Gomez will receive a yearly salary of $27,000.
Police Chief Charles Miller received a new extended contract.
“Our chief has traditionally been the least compensated in Rockland County,” said Phillips. “We’re very conservative with our money. But we’re extending this contract because the chief’s done a great job. He has the confidence of his men and women.”
Next, the board plans on drawing up a new contract for the lieutenant.
The Town of Haverstraw has agreed to bill Rockland County for the maintenance of county roads. Other Rockland County towns and villages are doing the same.
According to Phillips, at the start of 2012, the county decided to no longer provide the town with an intelligence officer or cover the costs of elections. In addition, the county keeps 94 percent of its sales tax and shares only six percent.
“I think what the county’s been doing is completely wrong,” said Phillips. “Look at our county road. There’s a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done. There are horrible erosions. Instead of repaving they take shortcuts and it ends up costing the taxpayers more money.”
The town is going to charge the county for the costs of streetlights, road repairs and maintenance on county roads that are in the town’s jurisdiction.
“We’re just passing the cost back to the county,” said Phillips. “This is not something we’re doing out of anger – although we are angry – but we’re just trying to protect the town’s budget.”
Phillips believes the county executive’s lack of planning and overestimating the budget as the reason for their problems now.
Ilan Shulman of Thiells was the only resident to speak during public participation and yet managed to almost destroy the Town of Haverstraw’s streak of shortest board meetings with his concerns about noise and the town’s financial status.
Shulman had spoken at a board meeting several weeks ago about this same topic, the noise from leaf-blowers. He was back to ask again that the board consider creating a law that limited the amount of time during the day that landscapers could use these loud leaf-blower machines. Instead of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., he’s asking that they only be allowed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It’s too loud!” said Shulman. “I’m all for people making money and businesses but there needs to be a balance between that and the health of residents.
“These machines aren’t even necessary at all,” Schulman continued. “But I’m not asking for black or white, I’m saying give me gray. Limit the time they can use them.”
Phillips countered that there would be some sort of consequence if they passed this law. “What if they get bigger and louder equipment in order to finish the jobs faster and between the time allotted?”
He finished that the board would discuss it but he wasn’t promising anything yet.
The second issue on Shulman’s mind was triggered by seeing on the news several cities, including Scranton, Pa., have gone bankrupt. He wants clear data from the town on what their financial status is.
“I don’t want us to come to a situation where we can’t pay our workers or we’re paying them minimum wage,” said Shulman. “I’m asking that the board lay out to the public the financial health of the town. We need to know how healthy the town is and what the credit rating is.”
Phillips replied that every year the town is audited and the reports come out excellent. They also have really good bond ratings, he said. “We sent out a newsletter with financial information back in April,” said Phillips. “We’re all sitting in chairs from 1979. That flag back there is from the civil war. We haven’t spent money on anything unless we needed to.”
Shulman would still like to see the numbers on paper, he said. “We trust you. We elected you. But when you pass the audit, the public doesn’t see the report. And we have a right to know. It’ll help me sleep better at night.”
The issue has not yet been resolved whether or not the town will issue a report and send it out to Haverstraw residents.
In other announcements, Bruce Leach, president of Hudson Valley Radio Control Show, shared upcoming events.
The third annual Air Show at Bay County Park will be August 25. The first annual Heli’s Over The Hudson, a helicopter show, will be September 22. There will be free hot dogs and drinks at both events.
In addition, a charity event, Cruisin’ for Cars, at North Rockland High will be on August 4. And there will be an airshow demonstration at the West Haverstraw day camp on August 10.
In ordinary business, during roll call, Councilman Isidro Cancel was the only absentee. He is away on vacation.
The adoption of the June 25 meeting, payment of bills and the police reports for May 2012 were all accepted and approved.
The board approved the selling of the highway department’s wood-chipper to the Village of West Haverstraw for $4,000.
The board also agreed to hire Ferguson Landscape Construction to take down a large tree and get rid of debris located on the town’s conservation easement. The tree is very large and needs a specialist to come in and remove it. The fear is that it will fall on one of the neighboring resident’s homes. This will cost $2,000.
Emergency repairs on the town’s landfill were approved as well. Bruce Smith of The Environment Construction Inc of Stony Point will come in to perform repairs on the landfill in order to protect the integrity of the liner. This will cost $4,400.
In closing, the board agreed to authorize GHD Consulting Engineers of Cazenovia to test the soil placement at the landfill. This costs $1,500 per day for personnel and $1,500 per test. This comes to a total of $20,000.