GERMANTOWN—Choosing an attorney, an engineering firm and an audit firm were all subjects of discussion at the Town Board’s January 3 organization meeting.
Resolution 14, as proposed by Supervisor Roy Brown, appointed the Hudson law firm of Freeman Howard “to represent the town on all legal matters.” Councilman Michael Mortenson, however, wanted to retain the current town attorney, Tal Rappleyea. “He’s done a great job for a reasonable fee,” said Mr. Mortenson.
Mr. Brown pointed out that in 2012 the town paid three attorneys: Mr. Rappleyea; Jason Shaw, the previous town attorney, who was continuing with cases initiated during his tenure; and the Albany firm of Allen and Desnoyers, to which Mr. Rappleyea referred the board on a Police Department matter. Between the three firms, said Mr. Brown, the town paid more for legal help in 2012 than it had in any of the three previous years.
Nevertheless, the vote was three in favor of retaining Mr. Rappleyea–Mr. Mortenson, Donald Westmore and Joel Craig–and two opposed–Mr. Brown and Joan Snyder. This was the second year in which the three councilmen voted in opposition to Mr. Brown’s choice of attorney and hired Mr. Rappleyea of Valatie.
In the next resolution, #15, Mr. Brown proposed Albany-based Greenman-Pederson, Inc. (GPI), the firm that will be installing new sidewalks in the hamlet this year, for all town engineering matters. Mr. Mortenson and Mr. Craig praised GPI’s sidewalk work to date but expressed a preference for a local firm for day-to-day matters. Mr. Brown pointed out that Tectonic Engineering & Surveying, the town’s current firm, is based in Mountainville, even farther away than Albany. The vote was three in favor (Brown, Westmore, Snyder), Mr. Mortenson against and Mr. Craig abstaining.
The resolution to approve a Town Policy Manual was amended by Mr. Mortenson to add a deadline of May 2013. “We agreed to rewrite it, but it keeps going on the back burner,” he said. Mr. Brown encouraged Mr. Mortenson to take the lead on the project and bring the board something to review.
The appointment of the firm of Sickler, Torchia, Allen & Churchill CPAs PC to perform an audit of the 2012 Town Municipal Finances was tabled until the January 21 Town Board meeting so that Mr. Craig and Ms. Snyder could review the firm’s proposal. The cost would be between $15,000 and $18,000.
In response to a question from Mr. Mortenson, Mr. Brown said that Michael Churchill had told him that the firm would verify all figures for 2011 in order to review 2012. “It’s a two-year review, but more specific and thorough for 2012,” he said.
A debate about how many of the three police commissioners must be sitting Town Board members led the board to pass Mr. Brown’s proposal subject to review by Mr. Rappleyea. Mr. Brown appointed himself, John Rustici and Roger Rekow as police commissioners.
There was no discussion about the appointment of Brian Fitzgerald as town accountant and bookkeeper (two separate positions). Last year, after Mr. Mortenson hesitated on the appointment, Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed on an interim, month-to-month basis. This year, Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed for the year, unanimously, without comment.
“We had a Request for Proposals out to review other possibilities, along with all of our professional services in October/November,” Mr. Mortenson wrote in an email after the meeting. “Unfortunately, we did not get a single response for bookkeeper/accountant.”
The new year does bring two appointment changes: Mr. Craig is deputy town supervisor, instead of Austin Sullivan, who is busy with his full-time job at Club Helsinki Hudson. Janet Crawford is the supervisor’s administrative assistant, instead of Mr. Sullivan.
In other organizational business, the board:
•Accepted the following annual salaries as stated in the 2013 budget: supervisor, $7,200; deputy supervisor, $2,200; justice, $6,000 each; councilman, $2,600 each; town clerk, $6,600; assessor, $17,900; highway superintendent, $51,974; deputy highway superintendent, $1,500; town historian, $3,500; budget officer, $1,200; building and zoning enforcement officer, $10,000.
•Established the reimbursement rate for official town travel as 55.5 cents per mile. Mr. Brown observed that in his seven years as supervisor, no one has ever put in for mileage reimbursement.
The full board and one resident attended the 40-minute meeting. The next regular town board meeting is Monday, January 21, at 7 p.m. That day is the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, but all board members are available that evening, so they will meet.