A Work Session of the Clarence Town Board was held on October 3, 2007, at Clarence Town Hall, One Town Place, Clarence, NY.
Supervisor Kathleen Hallock called the meeting to order at 9:00 A.M. Members of the Town Board present were Council members Scott Bylewski, Joseph Weiss Bernard Kolber and Patrick Casilio. Other Town Officials present were Town Attorney Steven Bengart, Director of Community Development James Callahan, Town Engineer Joseph Latona, Director of Administration and Finance Pam Smith and Paralegal Cindi Rosel.
Office of Real Property Services - Patricia Valvo
Patricia Valvo distributed literature detailing the duties of the Assessor and the Assessor's Office.
The Office of Real Property Services is the oversight agency for the real property tax and assessment. They work for the Governor and the Legislature – they pass all the laws related to property tax and assessment issues. Ms. Valvo works as a consultant to local government in assisting the assessors with various assessment and property tax issues. She is mandated by law to set equalization rates every year. They have to come up with the full value of every municipality in New York State. They do this in a number of ways, in the reassessment towns (Clarence is included) they do it by verifying the roll that it is at 100% and that it is equitable, if they agree with that, they adopt it as our equalization rate. In non-reassessed towns, they do a number of statistical analyses.
The Town of Clarence was one of the first towns to begin the annual reassessment program since 1999 and has stayed in it, through the program; the town receives state aid every year.
The Town of Clarence has had the highest increases in terms of real estate values than any other town in Erie County.
Councilman Bylewski asked if it was possible to obtain the increase in assessment per fire protection district and break that down from sustaining equity and new builds. Patty Valvo stated that the information is available through the assessors program in the Assessors Office. Increases and decreases are broken down between equalization and physical changes.
The Town is looking at a 2% trend this year and there are approximately 4000 parcels that need to be looked at but not necessarily increased.
Councilman Weiss stated that the town has contracted with GAR to physically look at properties but questioned what percentages of these properties actually physically change. With computer technology and satellite imagery why is the state forcing municipalities to endure the high costs of physical labor of reviewing these buildings. It does not make sense if only a few home values are increasing in any type of structural growth.
Patty Valvo stated that they do not just look at the physically change, it has to do with the market as well. Councilman Weiss disagreed stating that the market has nothing to do with someone looking at a house; the market has to do with values in an area which can be determined by looking at neighborhoods. It costs the tax payers “an arm and a leg" to have the town hire firms to go out and visually look at neighborhoods when the impact of their work is negligible. Last year 4000 houses were reviewed but not all of them were physically looked at.
New houses should be compared with new houses, the age of the house, size of the house, the condition and the style of the house should all be taken into consideration when doing comparables not just the neighborhood location. There may be adjustments for the different neighborhoods. If a house is located next to a stone quarry, that house would not be assed at the same assessment as a house of the same size and style that was located in another neighborhood.
Supervisor Hallock stated that the Town of Clarence has been at full assessment every year since 1999 but it has only been the last three years that we have had an outside vendor come in and look at every parcel once every two years. Patty Valvo stated that according to the Six Year Annual Reassessment Plan every parcel has to be either reappraised and or re-inspected within six years - once every six years, every neighborhood will be looked at. However, this depends on the market; if it was a totally flat market for six straight years you would still at least inspect or reappraise the neighborhood. If you look at a neighborhood with 100 houses and ten of the houses are sold, if those ten houses are determining a market trend which indicates some change needs to be made, then you will have to look at all the houses in that neighborhood. If sales are slowing down or flatten out, there may not be as much field work as there has been in the past several years. More work can be done in house this year. Ms. Valvo felt the assessor's office was adequately staffed at this time.
Erie County Director of Real Property Tax Service Joe Maciejewski informed Supervisor Hallock that because of property adjustments, an acting assessor must be appointed today. Ms. Valvo stated that before she left today, she would contact her legal department regarding this.
The last day to submit applications for the Assessor's position is October 9th. The assessor's office has submitted a list of recommendations for the assessor position.
Town Engineer Joseph Latona has one Attorney – Client item to discuss in Executive Session regarding the letter from Amherst Town Supervisor Satish Mohan.
Supervisor Kathleen Hallock
Motion by Councilman Kolber, seconded by Councilman Weiss to authorize Supervisor Kathleen E. Hallock to execute a purchase agreement between The Verdin Company and the Town of Clarence for the purchase of the Bicentennial Bell subject to Town Attorney approval at a cost of $19,730, this price includes stand and bell. Upon roll call – Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
Motion by Councilman Bylewski, seconded by Councilman Weiss to authorize Supervisor Kathleen E. Hallock to sign the grant agreement between the Preservation League of New York State and the Town of Clarence which said grant is in the amount of $5,000 for costs associated with the completion of Intensive Level Cultural Survey of Historic Resources in the Town of Clarence. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
Supervisor Hallock received the appraisal on the John Fery paintings.
Sewer District #2 Commissioners meeting is scheduled for November 8, 2007 at 9:00 A.M.
George Grasser has submitted comments about Walking School Bus.
Michael & Cheryl Tarbell will be on the October 10th Town Board agenda regarding zoning issues at 4594 Shisler Road.
Councilman Scott Bylewski
Motion by Councilman Bylewski, seconded by Councilman Weiss to refer the Dunkin Donuts project to both TEQR and the Planning Board for a concrete recommendation to come back to the Town Board so it can be placed on the Town Board agenda for December 5, 2007. Upon roll call – Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
Councilman Bylewski will contact Highway Superintendent Ted Donner to see if the safety vests for the volunteers have been delivered.
The next step for the Historic Preservation Commission will be to meet with Clinton Brown to find out what the status of the survey is as well as discuss possible solutions regarding the Hibschweiler barn on County Road.
Karen Jurek & Steve Flaminio – Phone and Data Service/Phone Systems
Karen Jurek stated that there have been some issues at the Library with the DMV. Steve and Karen have met with our current provider Level III (formerly Telco, formerly Adelphia) and they can not do anything more for us as far as sharing data with the Parks Department. It is expensive to have telephone services at the Parks Department; currently we have separate telephone service and a DSL at the Parks Department. It is costing $300 monthly just for telephone service this does not include their monthly costs or their data costs.
Steve Flaminio is recommending we move existing telephone and data services from Level 3 and Verizon to One Communications. The Town of Clarence is currently spending approximately $2,464 for phone service and $673 for data service for a combined total of $3,137 per month. One Communications has provided a quotation to provide the same phone service and improved data service for $2,393 per month. The net savings will be approximately $744 per month.
The One Communications proposal includes an upgrade to the data line at the Town Hall from a 1.5M DSL circuit to a full T1 and an upgrade to the data line at the Parks office from a 768K DSL circuit to a fractional T1. The improved speed and reliability of the T1 lines will be necessary as we anticipate that Erie County will be discontinuing the free T1 internet service to the Town Hall at some point in the near future.
In addition, the improved data service at the Town Hall can also be extended to the Library which should allow the DMV mobile office to move its operations back to that location. This is not currently possible with the existing Verizon service.
Steve Flaminio further recommended the town purchase and install a new phone system at the Building/Engineering and Highway office. The phone system installed at the Building/Engineering office several years ago is in good working order but lacks some of the features required for those offices. The phone system at the Highway Department is several years beyond its life expectancy and will likely fail during the next year. The new Youth Department office will require a new phone system and could reuse the system currently installed at the Building/Engineering office. The phone vendor (BN Systems) has offered credit for phone equipment that will not be transferred to the Youth Department office.
[Councilman Weiss did not take part in any discussion regarding telephone service because he has a working relationship with Steve Flaminio.]
Motion by Councilman Bylewski, seconded by Councilman Casilio that the Town of Clarence pursue moving the existing telephone and data services from Level III and Verizon to One Communications and pursue the purchase and installation of a new telephone system at the Building/Engineering and Highway Department offices. Upon roll call - Ayes: Councilman Casilio, Councilman Kolber, Councilman Bylewski and Supervisor Hallock. Noes: None. Recuse: Councilman Weiss. Motion carried.
Councilman Joseph Weiss
Councilman Weiss will make an appointment to the Conservation Committee at the next Town Board meeting.
Councilman Weiss suggested that once the Adequate Public Facilities Law and the Historic Preservation Law are finalized, a brochure or some type pamphlet be put together containing the most asked questions regarding these laws. Supervisor Hallock suggested putting it on our web-site as well.
Councilman Weiss will be attending a meeting in Town of Chautauqua regarding sewers.
Councilman Weiss and Councilman Kolber have received several phone calls regarding football fields. Town Attorney Bengart was going to see if one of the recently purchased town properties could be leased. There have not been many problems with year with regard to football at Sunset Park.
Budget hearing dates are scheduled for October 11th, October 18th and 25th @ 3:30PM. Updated expense and revenue reports have been distributed.
Councilman Bernard Kolber
Councilman Kolber met with Doug Kohler and Clarence Bee editor Kim Karcher regarding “Then and Now" which will be published once a month.
Councilman Patrick Casilio
Highway Superintendent Ted Donner has recommended a third person for appointment to the Traffic Safety Committee.
Councilman Casilio questioned the street lights in Harris Hill regarding easements and obtaining access to back yard properties. Some of the lights that were damaged during the October storm were overhead access. One of the property owners provided a search & survey indicating that the utility company was given an easement in 1935. Councilman Casilio questioned whether or not the Town could use NYSEG easement to repair the damaged lights. Town Attorney Bengart stated that generally when the Town has to go on private property we first have to obtain permission from the homeowner and then a “hold harmless agreement" is signed. Councilman Casilio will meet with Town Attorney Bengart to discuss this further.
There was a discussion regarding radios. If a volunteer public safety committee member has an emergency, they should call 911. If they need to contact Parks Security, it should be via radio. Parks Security should be able to contact Parks Security via radio and be able to contact the EC Sheriff's if they have to. Councilman Bylewski stated that we need enough radios for Parks Security to talk amongst Parks as well as Parks volunteers so we will need between 2 and 4 radios for the volunteer portion of it. For the vehicles, we would want access to the Sheriff's ban. Councilman Casilio stated that we talk to the Sheriff's now through portable radio which is on repeaters. If we get everybody up at 450 on a repeater which is not the Sheriff's frequency, everyone can hear each other in or out of a car. The repeater charge is $6.00 per radio which is less expensive than a cell phone. Councilman Casilio suggested leaving the mobile phones in the car and have Parks Security use the repeater frequency for Day in the Park, for talking to Public Safety Volunteers and for emergencies and then Parks Security will have the option of changing one channel and calling Sheriff Dispatch direct for an emergency. The radios are service duty radios with service duty batteries so they will run an 8 hour shift. Supervisor Hallock stated that it was brought up at the Public Safety meeting that cell phones were not dependable.
Councilman Weiss suggested doing a test every so often to see if the chain of command works. Councilman Casilio stated that he is working on this, currently there is no chain of command in the Security Department.
Councilman Casilio has one Attorney - Client item to discuss in Executive Session.
Motion by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman Bylewski to enter into Executive Session pursuant to § 105(1) F of the Open Meetings Law to discuss the employment history of individual(s) and the appointment of individual(s) and two Attorney-Client matters. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
There being no further business, the Work Session adjourned at 11:05 A.M.
Darcy A. Snyder
Motion by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman Bylewski to adjourn the Executive Session at 11:55 A.M. Upon roll call – Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried. No action taken.