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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 16, 2011

In Rensselaerville
Board buys same washer, approves highway contract

By Zach Simeone

RENSSELAERVILLE — The town has mapped out a plan for this year’s roadwork, and the board voted Tuesday to purchase the same Van Buren pressure washer that it returned in March after a squabble over the town’s procurement policy.

The 2011 highway agreement was approved by all three of the town board members present — Supervisor Marie Dermody, and councilmembers Jack Kudlack and Robert Bolte. Councilman Gary Chase and Councilwoman Marion Cooke were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

A new, old washer

The three board members present also voted to purchase a pressure washer from Van Buren Enterprises for $3,930. Between February and March, the town had purchased and returned this very same pressure washer.

When it came time to pay the bills at the town board’s March 8 meeting, Supervisor Dermody declined to sign a voucher from Van Buren for the pressure washer. She said that then-Highway Superintendent Gary Zeh had violated the town’s procurement law in making the purchase. Zeh resigned from the position last month, due in part to “the headaches” caused by his interaction with the town board, he said.

After bringing in his own washer for town use initially, Zeh had purchased the washer to increase the longevity of town vehicles, which often accumulate damaging amounts of salt while on the road.

“An expenditure of this amount required a written request for proposals, which also then required town-board approval,” Dermody said at the March meeting.

Zeh apologized to the board, adding that he had read the procurement policy and did not recall reading that he needed town-board approval. The procurement policy does not include any language requiring the highway superintendent to get board approval for the purchase, and states only that Zeh needed to put out a request for proposals and get three price quotes. While Zeh had obtained these quotes, he said that one of the three existed only in verbal form and as a note on a piece of paper before the date of the actual purchase on Feb. 10; the third written quote officially came in on March 2.

After Zeh’s resignation last month, the board held a special meeting, appointing Potter as the acting superintendent. The board agreed to look for another pressure washer, and, at Tuesday’s meeting, purchased the Van Buren pressure washer again.

Road plan

The 10 roads listed on the agreement total $183,593 worth of work. The first three on the list are the agreed upon projects, totaling $151,093:

— Work on Siebert Road, beginning at County Route 352 and ending six-tenths of a mile down the road, will add a 15-inch culvert and 1.5 inches of asphalt, and will add crusher run to the edges of the road. It will cost $59,974;

— Work on McCulloch Cross Road, between Hale Road and the bridge 2,500 feet away, will include cleaning ditches, updating culverts as needed, adding 200 tons of base and fabric, and under drain as needed. The road will also be topped with compacted 19-millimeter binder, with crusher run at the shoulders. It will cost $53,000; and

— Work on Pond Hill Road will include cleaning ditches, as well as changing culverts and fabric as needed, costing $38,119.

The remaining seven roads listed have been deemed alternates, totaling $32,500, and will include ditching, updating culverts, and patching with black top and fabric as needed:

— Cheese Hill Road, costing $15,000;

— Scutt Road, costing $5,000;

— Roney Road, costing $8,000;

— Olmo Road, costing $4,000;

— Gulf Road Extension, costing $5,000; and

— Rivenburg Lane, costing $4,000.

The deputy acting

Also at the meeting, board members discussed signing an agreement between the supervisor and Deputy Highway Superintendent David Potter, a longtime highway worker who was appointed as acting highway superintendent after Gary Zeh resigned last month. Potter had expressed concern, should his time as acting superintendent end — whether he leaves the position, or decides to run for election and loses — that he could return to his job in the highway department without losing seniority in the union.

The motion to enter into the agreement failed, however, as Bolte abstained; though Kudlack and Dermody voted in favor, this did not constitute a majority vote.

Said Bolte, “I’d like to hold off on this here until we find out something from the union.”

When asked if all highway workers have the right to return to work in the highway department without losing seniority upon losing in an election, Town Attorney Joseph Catalano said after the meeting, “You could run for office and keep your day job, so to speak. As a deputy, he could have run, and then still returned to the highway department. But he’s actually agreeing to become the acting superintendent; he’s leaving the collective-bargaining union, and the town has no responsibility or obligation to hire him back to the highway department. So, this would be to maintain the status quo. He said he wasn’t planning on running, but we put that in there just in case.”

Other business

In other business at its June 14 meeting, the Rensselaerville Town Board:

— Awarded a bid on the reconstruction of the water supply dam in the Ten Mile Creek, which had been damaged by flooding, to Keller and Sons for $77,381;

— Approved a $13,650 engineering proposal for the dam project;

— Heard from Supervisor Dermody that Rensselaerville “has some unclaimed funds” in an account with the New York State Comptroller. Dermody said that she sent out paperwork on June 6, and is waiting to hear back from the comptroller’s office;

— Heard from Dermody that a storm on June 8 did damage to a number of electronics at Town Hall. It damaged a network card in one of the copy machines, a network switch that is replaceable under warranty, and the phone system. The town is waiting for a cost estimate from its insurance carrier, she said;

— Heard from Assessor Jeffry Pine that the town’s new equalization rate is 56.2. The state sets the rates so that owners of like properties in different towns pay similar amounts in taxes. For example, if a school district lies in parts of several towns, each of which assesses differently, the rate is to equalize those differences so residents pay their fair share of taxes. If sale prices are the same as assessed value, the equalization rate is 100 percent; when sale prices are lower than assessed value, the equalization rate drops.

The goal is to be at 100 percent, but Rensselaerville’s roles are skewed since it hasn’t undergone a town-wide revaluation in years;

— Adopted a local law on codification;

— Discussed the hiring of Doyle Shaver for part-time hours mowing lawns, a job that was not advertised, but the appointment was voted down by Councilman Bolte; and

— Heard from James Glorioso that the town’s gardening committee is looking for donations in order to build a memorial garden for veterans and fallen soldiers outside of Town Hall.

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