By Marcello Iaia
BERNE — A handful of new names joined the list of town officials at Berne’s 2013 re-organizational meeting on Jan. 9. They were appointed unanimously.
Then the vote for salaries, raised by 4 percent, was split, a senior van was reported to need glow plugs, and a transfer was needed to cover an overage in 2012 board salary payments.
Bonnie Conklin, the only Republican board member, said Monday she voted against the salary increases for town officials adopted in the 2013 budget. She wanted none.
“My feeling is, I haven’t gotten a raise from my real job in years, and then I look at services we provide for the town, and that money is not increasing. It’s at a stand still,” said Conklin, who also cast the only opposing vote when the $2.25 million spending plan was adopted on Nov. 14.
Supervisor Kevin Crosier, a Democrat, said Tuesday that the $5,000 increase to the supervisor’s salary in the 2013 budget, noted by Conklin in a letter to the editor this week, was made to match the workload of the position.
“The people in the general fund hadn’t had a raise in probably six years. And their workload has been increasing,” said Crosier.
The need for funding is evident in youth services, said Conklin, which has a need for more volunteers. Conklin, the board’s liaison to the town youth council and senior citizens, works at Berne-Knox-Westerlo as a prevention coordinator for St. Catherine’s Center for Children. Her brother-in-law, Chuck Conklin, serves on the youth council.
“If we could have paid volunteers, that would be a motivation for people to help out,” said Conklin, offering an example of where she thinks additional town funds could be spent on the youth program.
Senior citizen services
A memorandum of understanding between the town and the Helderberg Seniors was created during Supervisor George Gebe’s term to reduce the money apportioned for seniors over a period of four years.
According to the agreement, $1,200 for the seniors in 2010 was reduced by $200 each year, to remain at $600 from 2013 forward. The town is responsible for all general maintenance, supplies, and heating fuel, and guarantees building use for senior meetings at the senior center on Route 443 in Berne.
The town bought the building, initially with a plan to use it for the library, but then a better location for the library was found when the Catholic Diocese closed its church in the hamlet.
The cost to the town, Crosier said, is more than what seniors were budgeted before. “The town bought a paver this year, and one of the things we have on our schedule is to pave the parking lot,” he said.
Following the appointments and salaries, Crosier said during the Jan. 9 board meeting that the senior van needs glow plugs, which supply heat to start the diesel.
Before the auto-work is done, a shared services agreement has to be finalized between the town and the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District. The board of education has not yet approved the measure.
Approved at the town board meeting on Jan. 9, the agreement allows for maintenance and repairs on Berne’s two vans to be done in the BKW bus garage. In exchange, the town would pay for parts and its snowplows would clear and sand the front parking lot of the school.
The Capital District Transportation Authority discontinued its bus routes through Altamont and Knox in August, due to few riders. Berne stopped sharing its six-passenger van with affected riders at the beginning of October, asking that their respective municipalities share the costs.
CDTA sold the 14-passenger van to Berne for $1 later that month and the Albany County Department for Aging has pledged money for Hilltown senior transportation.
Crosier has asked participating towns to share any extra costs for maintenance and a driver that exceed the $675 monthly payment coming from the county.
Altamont decided to not to join. Instead, the village announced in December new route schedules available to Altamont seniors with its own van service and with a van from Guilderland.
Supervisor Michael Hammond of Knox told The Enterprise in November that $2,000 was set aside for the senior van, which has a wheelchair lift.
Filtering the bids
Peter Vance, the town’s sewer project coordinator, told the packed Berne Town Hall last week that bids to begin construction on a sewer system would await one final hurdle: an engagement letter for an audit required by the United States Department of Agriculture’s rural development arm.
Vance said Wednesday that the letter is in process, but bidding has been scheduled to open on Feb. 21.
The estimate bids for the sewer construction that the project would have to budget within is $2,812,000, according to Vance.
A transfer was made at the end of the Jan. 9 meeting for 2012 because the town board personnel payroll was short $278.
Andrea Borst, senior account clerk for the town, told The Enterprise on Tuesday that the money was transferred from the town’s contingency account for board personnel to cover a month of overlap in 2012 between Interim Supervisor Peter Vance and Crosier, who was re-appointed to the post in late January.
Vance resigned as a councilmember and was appointed as supervisor soon after George Gebe retired from the position in the fall, citing age and family reasons.
“We had so much going on with [Tropical Storm] Irene and it was just a lot going on, and it was nice to have Peter Vance here to help me get up to speed with many different issues,” said Crosier, adding that the town was working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency after tropical storms Irene and Lee came in late August, and the sewer project had developed since Crosier’s last year as supervisor in 2009.
During the re-organizational meeting, the town board unanimously made the following appointments:
— Joseph Golden as deputy supervisor;
— Kevin Crosier as director of emergency management;
— Patricia M. Favreau as marriage officer, registrar, and deputy tax collector;
— William J. Conboy II as legal counsel to the town board;
— Cheryl-Tefts Baitholts as dog-control officer;
— Brian Crawford as chairman of assessors;
— Anita Clayton as deputy town clerk, deputy registrar, and secretary to the planning board and zoning board of appeals;
— Frances O’Malley as second deputy tax collector;
— Andrea Borst as senior account clerk;
— Patricia Boice as court clerk;
— Ralph Miller as historian;
— Ronald Jordan as chair of the zoning board of appeals;
— James Fallon as member of the zoning board of appeals;
— Emilie Wright as chair of the board of assessment review;
— Alan Rockmore as chair of the planning board;
— Timothy Lippert as member of the planning board;
— Kathleen Moore as chair of the conservation board;
— Nancy Engel and Susan Hawks-Teeter as members of the conservation board;
— Gertrude Horl, Chuck Conklin, and Tammy Fisher as members of the youth council;
— Joyce Besha and Marion Burkhardt to five-year terms as library trustees;
— Joanne Brady to the last year of an existing term as a library trustee; and
— Kathy Stempel as custodian.
The board voted 4 to 1 in favor of salaries and wages for the following positions in the coming year, with Conklin casting the opposing vote:
— Supervisor at $18,300;
— Town justice at $9,150;
— Board member at $3,460;
— Town clerk at $38,380;
— Highway superintendent at $51,200;
— Tax collector at $6,660;
— Assessor chair at $12,560;
— Assessor at $11,544;
— Second assessor at $7,280;
— Building inspector and code enforcement officer at $12,376;
— Attorney at $22,400;
— Dog control officer at $5,928;
— Deputy town clerk at $15.98 per hour;
— Secretary of planning and zoning boards at $15.98 per hour;
— Senior account clerk at $47,320;
— Registrar at $1,040;
— Highway employees at $19.17 per hour;
— New highway employees at $18.17 per hour;
— Winter highway employees at $16 per hour;
— Summer highway employees at $14.04 per hour;
— Parks and cemeteries caretaker at $14.04 per hour;
— Youth park employees at $9 per hour;
— Compactor operator at $15.98 per hour;
— Solid-waste coordinator at 15.98 per hour;
— Planning board chair at $2,392;
— Planning board member at $1,716;
— Zoning board chair at $468;
— Zoning board members at $260;
— Jurors at $10 per day; and
— Custodian at $15.60 per hour.