Ontario Town Meeting Nov. 5, 2020
A special meeting of the Ontario Town Board was called to order by Supervisor Frank Robusto at 7:00 p.m. in the Adult Activity Center in Casey Park. Present were Supervisor Robusto, Council members: Scott TeWinkle, Joseph Catalano, Timothy Strickland, Jeremy Eaton, Director of Parks and Recreation William Riddell, Superintendent of Highways Marilee Stollery, Library Director Sandra Hylen, Attorney for the Town Richard Williams, Deputy Supervisor Robert Kelsch and Town Clerk Debra DeMinck.
4 residents and visitors were present at portions of the meeting
Revisions to the Agenda - A motion was made by Mr. Robusto, seconded by Mr. TeWinkle, to approve the agenda as presented. 5 Ayes 0 Nays MOTION CARRIED
A Legal Notice of Public Hearing on the 2021 Preliminary Budget of the Town of Ontario was published in the Times of Wayne County on October 25, 2020 and on the Town Clerk’s sign board on October 20, 2020.
A motion was made by Mr. TeWinkle, seconded by Mr. Eaton, to open the 2021 Preliminary Budget Public Hearing at 7:02 p.m. 5 Ayes 0 Nays MOTION CARRIED
Supervisor Robusto asked for public comments or questions.
Sandra Hylen, Director of the Ontario Public Library, stated on behalf of the Library Board and herself she thanked the board for working to limit cuts to the library to 5% this year. “Before grumblings get louder, please let me comment on budgets of past years and explain why the annual library expenditure funded in 2021 again heavily favors personnel costs leaving other budgeted costs to shrink.
In general economists suggest that % of personnel costs to operating budget run at 60-80% optimal, the lower, the better. The Town of Ontario is doing well using 58% of a $9,770,000 budget for personnel. Library staffing costs for 2021 amount to 87% of the budget; in 2013 it was 73%., Public libraries are not profit centers. They do not generate any meaningful income, they serve the community in a similar vein as a school, the public library does not raise taxes and this public library depends largely on funding from the Town. At OPL most staff wages remain flat. We have eliminated the longevity bonus, altered scheduling for requisite staff on duty, reduced part time staff hours and left two full time positions unfilled. The library serves a critical role in building community. We are an important place for our community to gather and interact.”
Mr. James Switzer stated that for more than 40 years, he has attended or participated in public hearings on the Ontario town budget. With extensive knowledge of town and county budget development. It was his opinion that the 2021 budget process is the “worst ever.” His biggest complaint was about outsourcing of services.
He also felt that “Public library expenses were incorporated in the general fund, but library revenues/tax rates not shown in the calculation summary; · Several budget lines (e.g. legal, engineering, celebrations) lack detail beyond total numbers; Repeated claims by the fiscal officer that the town is “solvent” have nothing to do with policy for use of surplus “fund balance” to keep the tax rate low and under the “tax cap”; Neither the tentative or preliminary budget or tax cap worksheets appeared on the web site before discussion, as promised; With outsourcing services for accounting, budget, payroll, human resources, ambulance services, fire protection, collective bargaining, policy development, web page, human resources and lighting districts, little remains for the town board to do. The increases for town board salaries and the stipend for the budget officer should not be approved.”
Mr. James Doyle asked if the public was going to be able to review the budget. He would like to see it explained. Why did brush and weeds contractual go from $33,000 to $123,000?
Highway Superintendent Marilee Stollery explained that, in the past, fuel has been split into different account codes. It was very hard to track. This year it was put into one code.
Mr. Doyle also asked if all personnel were getting a 2% increase or just elected officials?
Mr. Robusto stated everyone is getting two percent except for the Clerical Unit who will be getting 2 and one-half percent.
The Public Hearing was closed at 7:12 p.m.
Supervisor Robusto presented the preliminary budget for 2021 as per attached power point presentation. First discussing the advantages of outsourcing. How no one’s job was eliminated. The cost advantages of outsourcing. The increase efficiency and the ability to focus on core areas and save on infrastructure and technology. How every department in the town utilizes outsourcing, The Highway, Water/Sewer, Parks and Rec, etc. “If we performed everything in house the cost would be astronomical. The reality with outsourcing our business manager we have a team of professionals representing the town at a fraction of the cost.
Mr. TeWinkle had some questions about specific budget lines. Mr. Catalano would like to discuss the Attorney Contractual line and creating a whole new department for watershed – especially at this time. This would not be a one-time cost and all major budgets are up significantly. Mr. Eaton sees Mr. Catalano’s concern about watershed, but he feels it needs to be done now. All the ponds need maintenance. They need to be cleaned out periodically to work properly. Mr. Strickland agrees that the ponds need to be cleaned out. Mr. Catalano’s issue is timing. He disagrees with creating a new department without a clear-cut plan. Mr. Strickland agrees but feels it needs to be done. Mr. TeWinkle agrees there needs to be a plan but the board needs to budget the money then develop a plan. If that does not happen, the money will not be spent.
The board entered into executive session at 7:59 for pending litigation and a personnel matter leading to said dismissal, removal, promotion, appointment, employment, discipline, demotion or suspension of a particular person.
Reconvene – 8:54 p.m. and adjourn at 8:55.
(from minutes of the Town Clerk)
Ontario Town Meeting Nov. 16, 2020
A regular meeting of the Ontario Town Board was called to order by Supervisor Frank Robusto at 7:00 p.m.in the Adult Activity Center at Casey Park.
6 residents and visitors were present at portions of the meeting.
Comments from the Public – General comments were received regarding the final report on the water tower, vacancy at Parks & Rec, smoking regulations at Town Hall, mask restrictions at Town Hall, time slips for leave requests, the new website not being much better than the old one, budget not transparent, how many cars in town are electric for the charging station and covid expenses.
A motion was made by Mr. TeWinkle, seconded by Mr. Robusto, to adopt the 2021 budget with the following changes:
A2665. Sale of Equipment from $0 to $20,000
A1420.4 Attorney Contractual from $39,594 to $100,000
Appropriated fund balance from $588,682 to $629,088
The 2021 town tax rate
Department Head Reports – Sole Assessor, Town Clerk, Code Enforcement Officer, Superintendent of Water Utilities/Town Engineer , Director of Recreation & Parks
Deputy Supervisor – Mr. Kelsch gave a short tutorial on the Town’s new website. He also stated the Employee Handbook has been updated and is now on the website. There will no longer be paper copies and the Policy Handbook is being updated and will be on the website as well.
Supervisor Robusto stated there will be two workshops for “Understanding the Assessment and Reassessment Process”. The are November 18th and December 9th at 7p.m. in the Adult Activity Center at Casey Park. Registration is required. Call the Supervisor or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also gave a COVID -19 update stating the situation is fluid and could change tomorrow.
New Business –The Board approved the proposed 30 foot by 40 foot patio to be installed by the owner of 1999 Ridge Road (the old bank building), David Venirro, and it will not conflict with or be in violation of the Parking Lot Easement the Town received on August 20, 2004. Such patio is to be installed and maintained in compliance with all applicable requirements of the Town and NYS Building Codes. 5 Ayes 0 Nays MOTION CARRIED
Attorney Williams stated in 2004 the town received a permanent easement to use the whole parking lot. The easement does not restrict the patio. The patio would take up about three (3) parking places. Board members had a brief discussion. Mr. Strickland is mildly concerned with parking due to renters and businesses using the parking lot but he is in support of the patio.
The board approved the purchase and installation of one electric charging station with two charging ports at the Town Hall, 1850 Ridge Road, for $8,260 ($7,260 plus $1,000 contingency) from Greenspark Solar. T This purchase, combined with the LED Street Light installation project, will fulfill the requirements to be a certified Clean Energy Community (CEC). Becoming a CEC provides numerous grant opportunities offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA). The Town may qualify for a $5,000 grant if CEC registration and certification are achieved.
The board approved the two week vacation rollover request of Melissa Halstead, Assessor, with the other two weeks to be used by the end of December 2020.
The board approved the dedication of a parcel of land for highway purposes of the Summer Lake Section 8 Development
OF A PARCEL OF LAND FOR HIGHWAY PURPOSES OF THE SUMMER LAKE SECTION 8 DEVELOPMENT
The board accepted the resignation of William Dixon from the Ontario Water Department, effective November 18, 2020.
Then they approved the probationary appointment of Bryan Whipple to fill the position of Water/Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator within the Water Utilities Department effective on or about December 1, 2020 at a rate of $19.87 per hour as requested in a memo dated 11/16/2020 from the Superintendent of Water Utilities.
The board approved the appointment of Nicholas Arena to the position of Foreman/Crew Chief at the Highway Department, effective November 13, 2020, with a $2.00 an hour increase for this position for a new hourly rate of $22.70 as recommended by the Highway Superintendent in memo 20-09
Reports by Town Board Members – Mr. Strickland congratulated Mr. Arena on his appointment.
Executive Session - A motion was made by Mr. Robusto, seconded by Mr. Eaton, to move into an executive session at 8:25 p.m. for proposed acquisition/sale/lease of real property when publicity might affect value.
Reconvene – 8:53 p.m. and adjourned at 8:54.
(from minutes of Town Clerk)