May 21, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Cazenovia Town Board last week approved a series of resolutions aimed at making town government more effective by extending the term of office for town supervisor, making the town clerk position appointed rather than elected and abolishing the town tax collector position.
The board’s actions do not immediately change current town laws for all three positions, but pave the way for one public hearing in June and one ballot initiative this November for the public to weigh in in the proposals.
“There’s no politics in this decision, it’s just good policy; and probably long overdue,” said Town Supervisor Ralph Monforte at the board’s May 13 regular monthly meeting.
The proposal to change the position of town supervisor from a two-year to a four-year position was proffered as a way to better serve town residents by allowing a supervisor to focus on his or her job without the worry of running for reelection every two years, according to the resolution.
The board’s passage of the measure will put it on the November election ballot for voters to approve or reject, said Town Attorney John Langey. If approved, the new supervisor term of office would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2016, so this year’s town election will not be effected by the change, Langey said.
“I think this is a great idea,” said Councilor Liz Moran, who is also a former town supervisor.
Councilor Pat Race agreed. “It gives us a lot more stability in Wampsville [on the county board of supervisors] than we presently have,” he said.
The board also approved a proposal for a new local law to change the office of town clerk from an elected to an appointed position, also to take effect Jan. 1, 2016. The board scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for its next regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 10.
In a separate yet related action, the town board then approved a resolution to abolish the town tax collector position, which is an elective office, in favor of mandating that the town clerk be charged with the duties of tax collection. Historically, the town clerk has always also been the town tax collector, so the change is a logical action based on the town board’s proposal to make the town clerk an appointed official, Langey said.
The board’s unanimous approval of that resolution made it effective immediately.
“These are two of the most important changes in the reorganization of the town to occur in the past three-and-a-half years,” Monforte said of the proposed supervisor and clerk position changes.
Also at the meeting, the board:
—Approved resolutions changing the classifications of Barrett and Fairbanks roads to recreational land access roads, then introduced local laws to make both roads “minimum maintenance” roads because their respective traffic volumes are both less than 50 vehicles per day. The minimum maintenance designation allows a municipality to save money by preventing the need for impractical or unnecessary levels of maintenance. The board will have a public hearing on the changes at 7:30 p.m. at its Aug. 12 meeting.
—Authorized the town supervisor to sign the necessary documents to finalize the purchase of land conservation easement rights by the town from Gene Reed for 422 acres of his New Woodstock farm. The deal has been ongoing since 2007, and this action is part of the final closing procedures, said Councilor Kristi Andersen.
—Approved a resolution to allow the town to apply for a $50,000 local government efficiency grant to help pay for the cost of its ongoing sewer district consolidation project.
—Heard from Councilor Liz Moran that the town has had a “great response” to its Request for Proposals regarding the Gothic Cottage renovation project. Numerous contractors have toured the building to inspect the job, and the town has received eight letters of interest from contractors interested in submitting proposals, Moran said. More proposals could still come in since the deadline is May 30. After that, the town board will look at all the received proposals and create a short list of the best ones to invite in for interviews, she said.
“I’m really excited this is going forward. We’ve had a good range of choices and perspectives from contractors,” Moran said.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.