BY CHERYL SLAVIN
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Stony Point Town Board, Councilman Tom Basile introduced the Volunteer Emergency Services Resolution as a way to recognize the hard work and important contributions of active volunteers in good standing with the Fire District, Ambulance Corps and Auxiliary Police. The resolution would provide for discounts on fees charged for the Town Pool, the Highway Department dump pass, Patriot Hills golf card fees and individual rounds, playground program and camp registration, swimming and tennis lessons and use of facilities fees. The benefit would extend as well to the spouses and minor children of the volunteers.
All the members of the Board, including Councilman Jim White who was absent but sent his remarks of support through Basile, as well as every member of the public present, supported the resolution and the need to provide volunteers with a real benefit in recognition for their invaluable work.
“This resolution would go a long way toward supporting recruitment and retention,” said Kurt Mulligan, a lieutenant in the Wayne Hose Fire Company. “Recognition like this from our town would also be the ultimate pat on the back for our volunteers.”
However, several Board members, as well as Golf Director Dave Fusco, questioned whether the discounts should be offered as a percentage of the fee, as set out in the draft resolution, or whether they should be presented as a straight dollar amount. There was also discussion whether the discount should be the same percentage across the board for all services, to which Basile replied that the amount of the discount should vary according to the fee to which it is being applied in order to result in a significant savings.
Finance Director Jennifer Sciscente also pointed out that the Town already offers the tennis lessons at cost, and that there are already family discounts for the playground and day camp programs. Basile explained that the volunteer discount would be applied in addition to the other discounts on the total amount a family has paid, and that he thought the Town could pick up the 10 percent fee for the tennis lessons. While he otherwise supported the resolution, Supervisor Geoff Finn disagreed with the idea of the Town making up for the difference in the tennis fees. Ultimately, the Board agreed to table the resolution until its next meeting in order to confer with each Department Head to determine both what would represent an appropriate discount for each service or program, and whether to apply the discount as a percentage or as a straight dollar amount.
“I just don’t want to see this get watered down,” Basile said as he agreed to the delay, “as long as we eventually provide for a real, tangible benefit to our volunteers.”
Highway Superintendent Larry Brissing presented his request to the Board for two new snow plow trucks. His department has gotten through this difficult winter with an aging fleet. One truck is no longer useable, and one has been patched together, but is on the verge of complete breakdown. No one could really dispute the need for the replacements. However, the question remained as to where to find the money for the trucks, as the Town had not budgeted for that expense in 2014. Brissing’s request was ultimately tabled for the next meeting, giving the Board time to investigate funding sources and review specs of the proposed vehicle purchases.
The Town also approved Sciscente’s request for a 60 day contract with Simmons Recovery Consulting, to assist with advice and strategy in pursuing FEMA reimbursements still owed to the Town. During the Supervisor’s report, Finn informed the public that the Town would be going ahead with removing structures irreparably damaged by Hurricane Sandy, and had town attorney Brian Nugent explain the legal procedure for doing so. Ultimately, once the Town has determined that a structure must be removed, it can do so itself if the homeowner doesn’t.
During public input, George Potanovic expressed concern that when the Board adjourns for executive session but does not state on the record the specific subject matter to be discussed, it is not properly following the Public Meeting Law which requires that such notice be given the public. Accordingly, when the Board adjourned this meeting for executive session, the Supervisor stated the specifics of the matter to be discussed, without breaching any personnel confidentiality.