By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND — On the first of the year, those governing Guilderland decided to expand the government, adopting a resolution to create a post for a third elected town judge.
The town board at the start of its annual re-organizational meeting also heard from Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy and new State Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy who spoke of the need for Albany County and its municipalities to work hand-in-hand to the benefit of all parties.
McCoy discussed the county budget, which passed on Dec. 12, with a tax increase of 7.6 percent, rather than the 9 percent that he had originally proposed.
He told the board, and those tuning in to watch the meeting on public-access television, that the legislature would need to vote on the contract to privatize the nursing home, which it did not do when voting on the overall budget. McCoy is still pushing the contract.
“It is important to approve the contract to bring the county to the point of fiscal stability,” said McCoy. “We need to protect the seniors and taxpayers.”
Fahy talked about how honored she was to represent the 109th District, and said she wanted to work with all citizens of the county, including the “low-hanging fruit,” not just the people in power.
She is the first woman to represent the district, which had long been represented by John McEneny who retired.
Fahy highlighted the same issues she ran her campaign on — gun control, minimum-wage increases, health care for families and women, campaign finance reform, and protection of the environment.
“We can all disagree, and not be disagreeable,” said Fahy, as she wished everyone “peace in homes, schools, communities, and hearts.”
After Guilderland Supervisor Kenneth Runion and the board made its appointments, it unanimously adopted a resolution to create a third elected town judge as authorized by state legislation.
In 2009, the town board issued a home rule message to the state legislature to request a third judge.
“Under town law, towns can have up to two elected judges,” explained Runion this week.
“Unless you have a population of more than 50,000, you have to apply to the state and give a valid reason that you need a third judge.”
Four years ago, the Office of Court Administration contacted the town and said its court was overburdened, had too many cases to handle, and the difficulty of the cases had increased, according to Runion.
“I would say having a regional mall in town is the reason for so many cases, because it generates a number of cases that are more criminal in nature, not just traffic infractions,” said Runion, referring to Crossgates Mall.
One of the two part-time judges currently serving the Guilderland Town Court, John Bailey, told The Enterprise, in 2011, “We handle a very large amount of finger-printable offenses,” including those involving substance abuse or domestic violence.
There was a time, said Bailey, when the court met two evenings a week, on Monday and Thursday nights, but it has started conducting hearings throughout the week and during daylight hours in an attempt to handle the volume.
The other judge serving Guilderland, Denise Randall, told The Enterprise, in 2009, that, in order to help relieve court congestion, she was taking two days a month away from her private practice to go to town court and handle suppression hearings related to criminal cases.
In 2008, the Guilderland Town Court closed over 11,000 cases, and generated almost $900,000 in revenue, and, since then, the load has only increased, said Runion.
The town board decided it would be more fiscally responsible to add a third part-time judge, rather than make any of the judge positions full-time, because a full-time position would require benefits.
The bill for creating the third elected town judge position passed the Assembly in 2010, but didn’t pass in the Senate; in 2011, it passed both the Senate and Assembly, and was signed into law toward the end of the session.
“In 2012, we had 0-percent raises and things of that nature, so we weren’t really ready to put it into effect,” said Runion this week. “I included it in the 2013 budget, but then I realized it wouldn’t be an appointment, it would have to be part of the general election, so it will be in the 2014 budget.”
The resolution allows a permissive referendum, meaning residents can petition to put it out to a full referendum, for all
the voters in town. They would have to circulate petitions and get signatures from 5 percent of registered voters, asking to put the resolution on a ballot for a special election.
“They have 30 days from the day we adopted the resolution to submit the petition,” said Runion. “So that would expire around the 31st of January.”
The town board made these appointments by unanimous vote on Jan. 1:
— Stephen Feeney, chairman of the planning board;
— Peter Barber, chairman of the zoning board of appeals, member Thomas Remmert, and alternate member Nicole Ventresca-Cohen;
— John Wemple, chairperson and member of the environmental conservation advisory council, and members Stuart Reese, Stephen Albert,
Gordon McClelland, Steven Wickham, and David Heller;
— William Young, chairman and member of the industrial development agency, and members James Shahda, Michael Bopp, Christopher Bombadier, and Anthony Carrow;
— Hodgson, Russ LLP, Joseph Scott of Counsel, attorney to the industrial development agency;
— Gustav Santos, member of the traffic safety committee;
— Dr. Don Doynow, medical director, paramedics;
— Alice Begley, town historian;— Jean Cataldo, registrar of vital statistics;
— Karen VanWagenen, deputy registrar of vital statistics;
— Rosemary Centi, passport agent; and
— Janet Thayer, deputy town attorney, zoning board of appeals and planning board.
The town board also voted unanimously to:
— Designate First National Bank of Scotia, First Niagara Bank, Citizens Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, Pioneer Commercial Bank, NBT Bank, and M&T Bank as official depositories;
— Authorize the supervisor and comptroller to invest Certificates of Deposit in any of the designated official depositories with a third party holding the securities;
— Designate Boswell Engineering, Delaware Engineering, Clough Harbor, Ingalls & Associates, LLP, and Spectra Engineering as town designated engineers;
— Establish mileage rate to coincide with the federal Internal Revenue Service approved rate per mile for reimbursement to town employees when authorized to use their private vehicles on town business;
— Authorize the highway superintendent and the superintendent of water and wastewater management to spend up to $2,000 per year for the purchase of tools without prior approval of the town board;
— Designate the town supervisor as affirmative action officer;
— Designate the town supervisor as emergency response officer;
— Designate The Altamont Enterprise as the official newspaper of the town of Guilderland;
— Approve a 2-percent cost of living increase for all non-union employees and elected and appointed officials subject to eligible non-union employees receiving their longevity increase approved in the 2012 budget.
— Authorize the town supervisor to make provisional appointments;
— Authorize the town supervisor and town comptroller to sign checks on behalf on the town;
— Set meeting dates for the town board, planning board, zoning board of appeals, and Guilderland conservation advisory council;
— Designate the respective fire chiefs as fire wardens, appoint a fire investigation team, and designate fire inspectors;
— Approve holiday schedules for the transfer station and for non-union town employees; and— Consider amending authorizing the purchase of a 2011 International truck from the town of McDonough, from the unexpended highway fund balance.