New Leb prepares to plead its landfill case

NEW LEBANON–At its regular monthly meeting August 9, the Town Board voted unanimously to change the terms of office for the elected town clerk, tax collector and superintendent of highways from two to four years, effective with the term of office commencing January 1, 2012.

The new terms will not apply to persons currently in these posts unless they are re-elected to them in the November 2011 election.

The new law is subject to the approval of a majority of town voters in a mandatory referendum to be held at the general election November 2 of this year.

 

According to New Lebanon Town Clerk Colleen Teal, if the voters approve the measure and if Ancram voters do the same, there will be only one remaining town clerk in Columbia County who is subject to a two-year term of office. Ms. Teal was not certain about the status of tax collectors and highway superintendents throughout the county. In statements made at previous Town Board meetings, council members who supported the measure cited the increasing complexity of these jobs and the need to retain officeholders for longer periods of time in order for them to master the positions.

The subject the town landfill produced a somewhat less harmonious discussion. By a 2-to-1 vote, the board authorized Town Attorney Jason Shaw to draft a legal brief outlining the town’s position relative to the closure of this facility. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has ordered the landfill to be closed and has levied fines against the town for its failure to do so. The town contends that closure of the landfill and the significant costs involved, including past fines, is a county responsibility.

Expressing not a little frustration with the situation, Councilman Bruce Baldwin cited the “general irresponsibility of the county” and urged that the town consider legal action if the county Board of Supervisors does not act at its September meeting to address the landfill closure issue.

Supervisor Meg Robertson and Mr. Baldwin appeared before the county’s Solid Waste Committee July 26 to plead the town’s case. Reporting at the August 9 meeting, Ms. Roberson said she was “pleased” with the reaction of her fellow supervisors so far, although she also noted that other financial pressures faced by the county may affect the outcome of the town’s request. The matter will next be taken up by the county Legal Committee August 18. Deputy Town Supervisor Monte Wasch suggested that Mr. Shaw prepare the brief that outlines the town’s “rights and equities” in preparation for that meeting.

But Mr. Baldwin questioned whether Mr. Shaw should undertake this task, citing the history of his involvement in this matter and his relationships with other county and town officials.

Ms. Robertson, expressing “confidence” in Mr. Shaw, voted with Councilman Doug Clark, to have Mr. Shaw draft the brief, to be submitted to Town Board members for review by August 16.

In other business at the meeting, the Town Board:

•Enacted the proposed zoning regulations

•Authorized a cell phone for the town supervisor

•Adopted a deadline for agenda items for Town Board meetings, setting the cut-off as the close of business on the Wednesday preceding a Monday meeting, excepting emergency items.

 

 

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