by Terry Duffy
Porter Town Board members OK'd two significant spending expenditures and rejected a third, among its regular meeting items Monday at Town Hall. Included was a funds transfer approval towards the purchase of a new truck for the town Highway Department, approval of a contract for Town Hall HVAC updating, and the board opting to reject a request from Supervisor Mert Wiepert to adjust the entry-level salaries of summer youth recreation workers.
Following an opening public hearing that drew no comments, board members approved a funds withdrawal from the Highway Reserve account, stipulating it not exceed $140,000 for the truck purchase. Later on in the session Highway Superintendent Scott Hillman provided details on the new truck, spending of which went on to be approved.
Low-bid totals of the purchase are: $75,452.48 contract list for a new 2012 International 7400 Series Chassis; $57,300 for dump body and equipment, on a low bid received from Viking-Cives; $6,500 for a new spreader from George and Swede; and $600 for a two-way radio on a NYSOGS contract. The total approved expenditure was $139,852.48.
It was reported that town funding to pay for the purchase could include grant money, according to town grant writer Bernie Rotella who told the board he is continuing with applications.
Hillman thanked the board on its approval, and said it was a needed expenditure in highway and would replace a 1997-era truck. "It's the oldest one in the town fleet," said Hillman. He added he was continuing with divesting of older surplus highway salting equipment for possible sale.
Another major expense the town tackled was funding for update/replacement of the Town Hall HVAC system. Wiepert reported the town had assigned its engineering consultant CRA Associates to prepare a request for quotes, which was returned May 2 to the Town Hall building committee. At Monday's session the Town Board approved a quote of $24,940 received from H.W. Bryk and Sons for a new high efficiency five-furnace system at Town Hall. Wiepert called it "a needed expense," saying the existing system now in use is 20 years old. He said the town is eligible for rebates from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority of $2,500 for the furnaces and $2,375 for the A/C systems. Total expenditure to the town would be $20,065.
In its third expense item, the town opted to draw the line on spending and reject a proposal by Wiepert to increase the starting salaries of entry-level town summer youth recreation workers from the current rate of $7.25 per hour to $8 starting. Wiepert said he consulted with Town Recreation Director Kathy Zasucha, who recommended the raise for the entry-level employees. Returning workers are currently paid $8.50 per hour, and Zasucha likewise had requested a raise for them, to $8.53 per hour. A total of 20 are employed in the recreation program over the summer.
"That program is successful because of its staff," said Wiepert, telling board members that 150 youths per week participate in the seven-week program over the course of the summer. Its activities for participants are varied and also age specific, ranging from athletics programs to educational and arts/crafts programs.
Wiepert said he felt the $7.25 starting wage was not competitive enough to draw what he considered as quality workers; many are college students pursuing education, recreation and related majors.
On a question from Councilman Jeff Baker on whether the raise issue should be an executive session discussion for further analysis, Wiepert said he didn't have a problem presenting the matter as is. Wiepert went on to offer the lead resolution and put out the request to board members for a second en route to a vote. None came from board members Baker, Larry White or Joe Fleckenstein. Councilman Tom Baia was absent.
With no second, the raise request proposal died in discussion and failed.
Commenting afterward, Zasucha expressed her disappointment. "They gave us responsibility to run a program, then they come down on us" when we ask for help.
Nonetheless, she said the program would be fully operational this summer and that there's job openings. A total of 13 are returning and she's accepting applications for seven positions to be filled. Those interested should contact Town Hall at 745-3730 for details.
In other news:
•Sue Driscoll of the town assessor's office reported that the 2011 tentative assessment roll for the town is now on the town's website for review. She said the Board of Assessment Review would hold public sessions on Wednesday, May 25, from 3 to 5 and 6 to 8 p.m. for those with grievance questions/concerns.
•The town approved $2,500 for the Porter on the Lake Committee for park expenses related to the upcoming July 3 Porter Lake Festival.
•Wrapping up, it was revealed that Porter is considering a recycling proposal and joining an alliance with Regional Computer Recycling and Recovery. The program, intended for Porter to adhere with a new county electronics recycling program would, if established, see a large recycling container placed by the Regional group on town property for residents to dispose of electronics, with the town to be compensated at a rate of two cents per pound for recyclables and with no other cost incurred.
The matter was left with Baker and White to meet with the Regional group on the proposal as well as with the state Department of Environmental Conservation regarding any needed permits.