Organizational meeting sparks debates, lasts more than 4 hours
Rotterdam’s annual organizational meeting was far from ordinary after stretching four and a half hours long to set up town business for 2011.
While some people were resting from New Year’s Eve festivities, the Rotterdam Town Board held its organizational meeting on Saturday, Jan. 1, to appoint and reappoint town employees and set up the year’s meeting schedule along with other town business. At 1 p.m. the town board meeting began and Democrat Wayne Calder was sworn in after being elected to replace Republican Councilman Gerrad Parisi. Soon the tone of the meeting was set with an executive session after remarks from Supervisor Frank Del Gallo to inform Calder of town employee matters on the agenda. Later during the meeting there were also two recesses held adding to the lengthy meeting, which ended at 5:30 p.m.
Calder shared some opening remarks after being sworn in by Town Attorney Joseph Liccardi.
I’m going to have 12 months here and during that 12 months you are going to get everything that I can give regardless of how you voted, none of that matters anymore, said Calder. `I promise you that every decision that I make will be based for the betterment for the community and that is the best that I can give you and thank you for everybody that helped.`
For the first day on the job, Calder got a true sense of what is like to be a Town Board member as residents became noticeably drained, most leaving before the end, through the lengthy meeting and tensioned started to flare between board members.
Before digging into the over 50 resolutions and two public hearings, Del Gallo shared remarks about the progress made in the town during 2010 when the Democrats seized control of the board.
`I’m sure last year I sat here my first day and I said if we don’t do a good job you can chop our heads off and roll them down Sunrise Boulevard; I don’t see anybody with an axe and chopping block, so we are in good shape there,` said Del Gallo. `I’m sure everybody would agree that it was an interesting year for all of us.`
Despite the tough economy, Del Gallo thought the board did a good job. Some of the goals accomplished were building a kitchen for the senior center, starting construction a monument for veterans outside town hall, the Golub Corporation expanding their warehouse in Rotterdam, the redevelopment of Capital Plaza with the Recovery Room restaurant, the former Draper School being planned for housing for the Disabled American Veterans organization and other improvements in the town.
`I look forward to working with Wayne Calder we will do our best to make the next year a better year than this year and accomplish what we have to do and be proud of what we do,` said Del Gallo.
Deputy Supervisor Robert Godlewski stated before moving to privilege of the floor for personnel items the board needed to go into executive session to discuss information Calder hadn’t received in regards to a certain item on the agenda because he wasn’t a board member.
During the privilege of the floor residents pointed out inconsistencies and questions with agenda, because resolutions differed from the index and what was listed in the explanation of the resolution further in the agenda. One instance was a resolution reappointing Marjorie Schmid a member of the Rotterdam Conservation Advisory Council for a two-year term, which was also clarified to bet an honorary member, but inside the agenda the resolution was appointed her as a member of the Rotterdam Board of Assessment Review.
Board members also noted some confusion during the meeting, because multiple versions of the agenda had been drafted before the meeting with some of board members requested changes not appearing on the final version.
Councilwoman Nicola DiLeva offered amendment to the agenda, which would become 1.11A, to authorize the supervisor to employ Darlene Mullally to confidential secretary to the supervisor, cutting compensation time out.
`Why do you want to take her comp-time away when historically and traditionally in this town the confidential secretary has enjoyed the same benefits as anybody that is the union?` said Godlewski questioning DiLeva. `You’ve already penalized her $17,000 in her pay by making budget transfers.`
DiLeva said she submitted the amendment the previous morning and wanted to return to the original agreement upon Mullally being hired last year.
`When we hired her last year, Bob, the agreement was no comp-time and she ended up getting comp-time,` said DiLeva. `No other secretary gets comp time no other secretary gets overtime.`
Later a discussion over the reappointment of another town employee, Timothy Longo, to the position of animal control officer spurred a lengthy debate. Longo would be receiving a stipend of $10,000, which was $5,000 greater than the previous year.
DiLeva wanted to table the resolution till there was evidence available to residents about the calls received by Longo last year, which was in a newly created position, due to the increase in pay. Godlewski argued with DiLeva that it wasn’t needed, because Longo’s supervisor attested to his work ethic and the high call volume.
Following a lengthy discussion on the measure, Del Gallo said he had the information DiLeva was requesting and the board took a recess for Del Gallo to get the report and the resolution passed.
After returning from another recess later in the afternoon to clarify the purchasing procedures in the town, the Town Board addressed the scheduling of regular public meetings for the town.
Del Gallo and Godlewski pushed having an agenda meeting an hour prior to the regular town board meeting, but fellow board member pushed for agenda meeting to be held at the current frequency of the Monday before a Town Board Meeting. All board members agreed to have a board meeting twice a week.
The final tabled resolution of the meeting addressed the supervisor to go out for bids on the ambulance service provider for the town and collection of ALS fees.
Since a tax district for Rotterdam Emergency Medical Service is dead in the town, the board needs to approve a new ambulance service provider. All funding was cut from REMS in the 2011 approved budget.
DiLeva offered a motion to table the resolution, so the Rotterdam Emergency Medical Board could be reinstated and make a recommendation to the board on what ambulance service provider should be chosen.
In the town code, chapter 27, the board in July of 1980 approved the board, which were stated to consist of two Town Board members, two members from the Rotterdam Police Department, two members from the Rotterdam Volunteer Emergency Medical Corps, two members from White Eagle Relief Squad and two members from the Fire Department rescue squads as nominated by the Rotterdam Fire Chief’s Association.
DiLeva noted the town code would first have to be amended, because White Eagle no longer exists. Also, she wanted include members of the community on the board. She asked the Town Attorney to research the specific code to recommend amendments.
`This is serious ` this is about our ambulance service,` said DiLeva. `I would like to see our Emergency Medical Board recreated or changed and I would like them to have a big part in reading our RFPs (request for proposal) and establishing who will be our next service provider,` said DiLeva.
To her surprise, Godlewski seconded her resolution.
`Anything I can do to improve the services in the town I will do,` said Godlewski in response to DiLeva.“
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