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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 12, 2009

Plans scrapped for post to allow checks on elderly

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Plans have been scrapped for a part-time position that would have allowed the town to check up on elderly residents.

The plan was hatched last November after a budget session in which it looked like funds to support Community Caregivers had been slashed. Supervisor Kenneth Runion, a Democrat, said at the time that instead a $13,000 part-time job was being added to the town’s Senior Services Department to help with services the town would take over from the Community Caregivers, a not-for-profit group that uses volunteers to provide home help and rides for those who need it.

At the Feb. 3 town board meeting, Runion made a motion to consider a transfer requested by the town comptroller to move $7,000 from a labor position in Senior Services to the Community Caregivers. Mark Grimm, one of the two Republicans on the board, who has frequently criticized Runion, then questioned whether a part-time position had been or would be created in the Senior Services department at the cost of $13,000 per year.

Runion said that he had been looking to have the director of Senior Services make more home visits, in which case the part-time employee would cover for her in the office. The supervisor went on to say he realized this position wasn’t necessary because all he had been looking for was more accountability; he has come to an agreement with Diane Cameron, the executive director of Community Caregivers, who will provide him with statistical information and a summary of the services being provided to each person who lives in Guilderland.

Grimm continued to question Runion about the part-time position, and wondered why it did not come to fruition. Runion once again emphasized that he simply wanted accountability from the group, which he believes he will get as a result of his agreement with Cameron. Warren Redlich, the other Republican on the five-member board, asked Runion whether this was a written or an oral agreement; Runion answered that it was oral.

During a phone interview, Runion explained that, in November, it looked as though the funds would be available to finance the part-time position for 2009. After the downturn in the economy, however, other departments haven’t been as busy, freeing up staff members to cover for the director when she is out in the field. He realized that he didn’t need to hire someone from the outside, he said.

  Runion also detailed the agreement between himself and Cameron, noting that he will receive statistical reports each time the group submits a claim voucher. “We have a very good relationship with Community Caregivers,” remarked Runion. “They provide a great service.”

Cameron told The Enterprise she had never been afraid the Caregivers would lose its funding. “I have to credit Ken with that,” she said. “He really gets it; he gets the needs of the seniors.”

Toward the end of the board meeting on Feb. 3, Runion finally asked Grimm if he wanted to vote to keep the funding for the Caregivers, to which Grimm emphatically remarked that he did, and stated that he was the person who first became concerned about the possible budget cut after the November meeting.  Runion said to stop worrying about what was discussed at past meetings and to focus on authorizing the funding for the group. The transfer of funds was unanimously approved by the board members.

Mark Grimm said this week he is concerned about future funding for the program, but for now he is satisfied because “they are getting the money and that’s my top priority.”

Other business

In other business at recent meetings, the board:

— Tabled a decision on issuing a permit for a new sign for Store Away, LLC;

— Voted unanimously to appoint Carly Staubach as telecommunicator, a new name for dispatcher, for the police department;

— Voted unanimously to submit an application for the state’s Department of State Local Government Efficiency Grant, which would finance video-on-demand of  the town meetings through Virtual Town Hall;

— Voted unanimously to apply for financial assistance for two household hazardous waste days in 2009;

— Voted unanimously to allow the transfer station to participate in two household hazardous waste days and to participate in Regional Electronic Waste Day;

— Voted unanimously to adopt provisions to the Real Property Tax Law that allows a tax exemption for veterans of the Cold War.  The board first held a public hearing, which drew no comment;

— Voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on Feb. 17 at 7:30 for a re-zone request, from RA-3 (Residual Agricultural, with a 3-acre minimum) to Country Hamlet, for Dutchman Acres;

— Voted unanimously to release the Water District Number 66 escrow in the amount of $14,907.25, plus account closing interest;

— Voted unanimously to authorize the department of water and wastewater management to go to bid for various chemicals for water and sanitary sewage treatment;

— Voted unanimously to authorize the department of water and wastewater management to go to bid for a replacement pump panel for the Lydius Street pump station;

— Voted unanimously to transfer $24,000 from one line of the budget to another in order to accommodate a change in the cleaning contract for Town Hall;

— Voted unanimously to authorize the supervisor to sign an agreement with Western Turnpike Rescue Squad for billing of advanced life support services provided by the town;

— Voted unanimously to waive the building permit fees for the home at 28 Gipp Rd., which had damage from a fire; and

— Voted unanimously to accept a sewer easement from the company called 155 & 20 LLP at property located at the intersection of routes 155 and 20.

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