NEW LEBANON—The January 13 meeting of the New Lebanon Town Board began with two public hearings.
The first related to a request by the Lebanon Valley Protective Association (LVPA) to change its tax status from its current IRS designation of 501(c)(4) to 501(c)(3). Both are designations are for tax-exempt, non-profit organizations, but Edward Godfroy, vice president of the LVPA, said the change to 501(c)(3) will enable the organization to apply for more grants. He said that the change will be “no burden to the taxpayers, no burden to the town.”
The second public hearing related to proposed Local Law #1 of 2015, which reestablishes the positions of court clerk and deputy court clerk. While the board later passed both the LVPA’s request and Local Law #1, the local law dredged up some lingering questions about the court clerk positions.
Town Justice Jessica Byrne said that the town “used to have an hourly clerk, and we had a lot of problems with it.” The positions under the new law are salaried positions, not hourly.
The discussion centered on whether it mattered if the court clerks were designated exempt or nonexempt. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime pay; exempt employees are not.
Judge Byrne, who attended the meeting, said that she believed it did not matter which designation the clerks were given—neither clerk would be working enough hours to qualify for overtime.
But Town Supervisor Michael Benson indicated that only one of the two designations was appropriate.
Another matter before the board involved bids for highway materials and fuel. After the highway material bids were read, discussion arose about whether the gravel, sand, and stone for the Highway Department should be tested to make sure it meets the town’s specifications before any bid is accepted. Highway Superintendent Jeffrey Winestock said that such testing was too expensive, unnecessary and “absolutely ridiculous.”
Supervisor Benson disagreed, saying, “I don’t think we should be accepting any bids without making sure it’s to the town’s spec.” Mr. Benson went on to cite problems with roads on Christmas day, which were widespread in the county.
Mr. Winestock emphasized that many of the problems with the roads originated because of gravel from a source different from the one currently used. The gravel used was purchased over fifteen years ago, he said.
Councilman Baldwin said that it would be “irresponsible” to postpone accepting the material given recent weather conditions.
Eventually, the board unanimously accepted the bids required to keep the Highway Department supplied with material. Mr. Benson said that he was “satisfied” that the board had discussed testing the material.
When Board Member Matt Larabee noted that there was nothing about testing the material in the motion the board had just adopted–which Mr. Benson had voted for–Mr. Benson responded, “We will continue to discuss it.”
In other business last week:
- The town heard the appraisal of a gravel pit that the town would like to sell. The appraisal, conducted by Holden and Associates, came in at $7,000, which Mr. Baldwin said was too low given that there is still gravel available at the site. The board moved to advertise the gravel pit at a minimum bid of $20,000
- The board discussed whether the town’s contract with Charter Cable should extend for 5 years or 10. The board decided on 5 years
- Behold! New Lebanon requested that the town be signatory on a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Trina Porte, a former member of the Planning Board, requested that she be reappointed
- The board reported that there have been “multiple requests…[for] an increase in transparency” for the town’s fire company. The board requested that certain members of the fire company attend the February board meeting
- The New Lebanon Conservation Advisory Council will be screening the documentary “Liquidity: the Value of Wetlands” at 6 p.m. Monday, January 26 at New Lebanon Town Hall.