BY CHERYL SLAVIN
In its sole meeting for the month of December, the Stony Point Town Board concluded several pieces of business in anticipation of the coming year. Three different insurance policies were renewed, and one appointment each was made to the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals. The first members of the Sesquicentennial Celebration committee were also announced.
The Town’s Workers’ Compensation insurance contract was renewed with provider Public Employer Risk Management Association (PERMA), for a total of $369,000, an increase of 15 percent over last year. A full payment before January 15, 2015,however, would trigger a 2 percent discount, a savings of about $7,400. The town’s dental insurance through MetLife was also renewed at an average of a 7 percent increase; 5 percent for Town CSEA and non-union employees, and 9 percent for the Police Department. Supervisor Geoff Finn did point out that since the board had budgeted for a maximum of a 10 percent dental insurance increase, the amount is still under budget.
With regard to both of these policies, Councilman James White strongly suggested that an educational process should be put into place for the covered employees in an attempt to reduce illness, injury and the amount of claims the town has had to cover. Finn responded that such a process was already in place, with literature and online materials available to town insureds.
Finance Director Karen Cappabianca also informed the Board and the public that both insurance policies had been sent out to bid. The PERMA Workers’ Comp policy was the cheapest received, even at the increased rate. Another dental policy did come in at a slightly lower rate, but it would have included some major changes in coverage that would likely not have been approved by the CSEA or the PBA.
The town also renewed its liability policy with New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR) at a rate 2.7 percent lower than that for 2014. White pointed out that although this is a reduction in cost, the overall policy was still almost $100,000 more than it was two years ago;he questioned whether the town could do better. Finn pointed out that the rate went up significantly after the claims engendered by Hurricane Sandy, and that the cost of the policy should continue to decrease as time goes on.
White, however, asserted that in fact the cost of the policy had been on the rise for at least 8 years, and strongly argued that in the future all the board members should be given all the information about the various bids, or actually attend presentations by the bidders, well in advance of the meeting so that they can assess and determine whether there are other options. The three other councilmen all supported his position.The policy was renewed, although White voted no.
For those who wish to pay their taxes by credit card, the board unanimously approved an increase in the fee from 2.5 percent to 3 percent. Finn noted that currently only about 80 residents have paid any portion of their taxes by credit card, representing about 1.5 percent of all Stony Point taxpayers. The increased fee will just about cover the fees the town pays to the credit card companies.
The board filled two appointment vacancies by naming Mike Ferguson to the Planning Board and re-appointing Joe Vasti to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Councilman Tom Basile also announced the first appointees to the Sesquicentennial Celebration Committee, which will plan commemorative activities for Stony Point’s 150th anniversary to run from March 2015 through March 2016. The members so far are: Susan Filgueras, president of the Stony Point Historical Society; Glen Chorba, whose father co-organized the centennial celebration; Dylan Skriloff, publisher and editor of the Rockland County Times; Kevin Metcalf, whose parents served on the centennial committee; Tom Schassler of the Palisades Interstate Park Historical Society; Joe Robinson, who will be liaison to the Wayne Hose Fire Company.
During public input residents Laura Konigsberg and Joel Wolitzer addressed their concerns and questions about the proposed biofuel gasification plant. Konigsberg in particular urged the board for the greatest amount of transparency throughout the process, noting that she has had trouble locating information about the project on the town website. Finn urged them, as well as the rest of the public, to attend the informational meeting on January 8, 2015 at the Farley Elementary School where the applicant, New Planet Energy, will make a presentation and answer questions.
There will not be another board meeting in December. The next meeting will be on January 13, 2015. If necessary, a special organizational meeting will be held in the beginning of January, with the date and time to be announced.