Clerk pleads for patron privacy at new town hall

HILLSDALE — Like any town clerk, Hillsdale’s Julie Kane deals with many “people” matters. She issues marriage licenses, registers deaths, tracks the canine population, and otherwise presides over the intersection of private lives and public business.

Those who visit her, she told the Town Board Tuesday, June 21, are entitled to privacy: “Citizens don’t want the building inspector and a bunch of contractors standing around laughing and joking while [the citizens] are talking about their personal lives.”

The building inspector meets with contractors in separate, but not handicapped-accessible, quarters on the second floor of the current town hall.

Reminding the board that those very citizens will be going to the polls come November, Ms. Kane urged councilmen to take the privacy issue into account in the interior layout of the new town hall in the building formerly occupied by the Roeliff Jansen Community Library.

“Trust me,” responded Supervisor Art Baer, “you’ll have more privacy over there than you do here.”

“It’s really a question of perceived privacy,” not total isolation, Ms. Kane said after the meeting. She said the target date for town offices to move across the street is “Labor Day-ish,” and that just now the work is ahead of schedule.

Also at the meeting, a difference of opinion emerged between the board and Highway Superintendent Richard Briggs. At issue is a $1,150 voucher the road boss submitted to the town for plowing the access road from Route 23 to the sewer plant.

Mr. Briggs justified the voucher on the grounds that the Sewer District is a separate entity from the town, supported only by taxpayers living within the district.

“It’s part of the town’s road system,” Mr. Baer said. “You should plow it.”

Mr. Briggs promised to look into the legalities of the matter.

On a related question, mowing grass outside the fence at the sewer plant, Mr. Baer said, “The Town Board is asking the Highway Department to mow the grass. You can say yes or you can say no.”

Those plowers of snow and mowers of grass now have a union to speak and negotiate for them. The board voted unanimously to accept Teamsters Union Local 294 as bargaining agent for town Highway Department workers, a majority of the crew having signed cards seeking union representation.

Town Attorney Nelson R. Alford, who verified the signatures, said the town could accept Local 294 now, or be required to after 30 days pursuant to state law.

“It’s probably going to cost the town more money,” sighed Mr. Baer.

Mr. Briggs said he was aware of the organizing drive but surprised by the timing: “I didn’t know it was going anywhere.”

Also at the meeting, the board:

*Heard from Councilwoman Jill Sims-Elster that the town’s summer recreation program kicks off Tuesday, July 5, with 65 kids signed up

*Learned from Councilman Peter Cipkowski that the town website hit a new high in May, logging 3,586 visits by 1,991 distinct visitors; the number of visits is up 59% from a year ago.

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