The Town of Poland Board voted to override the tax levy limit and passed the proposed budget for 2013 at its recent meeting.
The addition of the workers' compensation to the town budget was the reason for the tax cap override and nobody spoke out at public comment. It had previously been part of the county budget as a charge back. This year, it is a $73, 645.32 line item on the town taxes. Without its inclusion, the budget would have come in under the tax cap. A total of $80,000 of the unexpended balance from previous years was used to lessen the amount to be raised by taxes. The town taxable value has decreased from $94,068,652.00 in 2012 to $93,644,909.00 for 2013. This decrease, combined with an increase in the mandated costs, led to a tax rate of $5.57 per thousand assessed valuation. This is an increase of $0.53 per thousand assessed valuation, or 10.55 percent. County officials have told the town that although the town tax rate will increase due to the inclusion of workers' compensation, the amount will be deducted from the county's portion of the tax bill, so residents should not see much actual change in their total tax bill.
Under legal business, town Supervisor Kelly Snow said there was nothing in the employee handbook addressing the issue of sick pay of elected versus appointed employees. She asked town attorney Paul Webb what the policy was. Webb said that if a person were elected, their salary would continue, unless they resigned. If the person is appointed, then they are subject to removal. If they were removed, their pay would cease. Board members agreed that this policy would be placed into a revised employee handbook.
Ms. Snow also asked about the possibility of abolishing the constable position, and then establishing a court officer position. A constable has to have certain training by law, and it is not available locally. Webb stated that he saw no reason that it could not be done. Board members decided that two court officers should be sufficient.
Councilwoman Kathy Stanton reported that she has had no word yet on the small-business grant. Another local business has expressed an interest in the program, however. She also noted that a meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall for the first meeting of the Accessibility Committee. Any one interested is invited to attend the meeting. She said she had heard from another resident who has dealt with accessibility issues and would like to serve on the committee.
Highway Superintendent Larry Mee said the underground wiring had been put in place and the trench filled in. The new valves for the heating system have been installed, and the new furnace should be installed in a couple of weeks. Work is progressing on installation of new wiring. Snow informed the board that she has applied for some grants to help with the heating expenses.
Mee said he had received a letter from state Senator Cathy Young's office stating that the grant for Dry Brook Creek had been awarded to the DEC, and as far as she knows the money has not been spent yet. He said it sounded like she was going to stay on top of it. The town has seen no evidence of anything being done on Dry Brook Creek.
Councilman Terry Walker reported on the Recreation Committee. The Halloween party was a big success. They are working with Kennedy Pride to host the annual Christmas party on Saturday, Dec. 8, in the Kennedy Fire Hall, beginning at 4 p.m. Ornaments are being sold in memory of, or in honor of, loved ones for $5 each, to raise money for playground equipment. Sign-up sheets are available at the town clerk's office and the Kennedy Free Library.
Code officer Alan Gustafson noted that he has been continuing his efforts on safety issues for two properties in the town. He has been taking photographic evidence for his files, and has attempted to contact owners, with little success. He noted that the county Board of Heath has been involved in one situation.
Dog control officer Brian King reported that the dog enumeration has been progressing well. He felt they were over half done. He said one resident was upset that King was counting dogs on his property when he had already paid for his licenses. King explained that it was state law that mandated enumerations every five years. As of that time, more than 50 unlicensed dogs have been counted.
Under new business, Snow noted that the health insurance premiums went up approximately 9.2 percent. She had brought in the paperwork for the different premiums that the town pays. She noted that costs for health insurance have been increasing everywhere, and she felt that 9.2 percent was quite reasonable.
Mee reported that three loads of salt have been received. The cost for salt is slightly lower this year. Sand and salt have been mixed in readiness for winter roads. The trucks have been set up ready for plowing and sanding. He noted that the new truck had a shifting problem the previous week, and had to be towed to Buffalo for repairs. It was still under warranty. Some trimming had been done with the bucket truck. Millings from the state Route 62 work have been placed on local roads. Total reconstruction of the railroad crossing was completed on Quaint Road, and has made a big improvement. The new alternate parking signs for Second and Third streets have arrived. Highway Department workers will have tickets to place on vehicles that are in violation of the new parking rules. It is expected to greatly improve snow removal.
Snow read a letter from the leaders of the Town of Poland Senior Citizens. Various trips taken by the group throughout the year were highlighted. Appreciation for the financial support of the town of Poland was expressed. The group is looking forward to plans for next year. It was noted that town residents 55 and older are eligible to join the group.
The next regular Town of Poland Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. Snow will be available at 5:30 p.m. to meet with residents about their concerns. Everyone is encouraged to attend.