NOTES for the VILLAGE OF DERING HARBOR BOARD OF TRUSTEES Meeting on August 5, 2017 9:00 AM, prepared by Betsy Morgan.
Note that if you would like an audio file of the meeting please contact Betsy.
In attendance: Martha Baker, Rachelle Blidner, Hap Bowditch, Julia Brennan, Jonathan Cary, Betsy Colby, Eric Deutsche, Annbeth Eschbach, Rob Ferris, Jeanette Flynn, Lisa Gilpen, Jim Goldman, Stuart Goldman, Jason Hime, Bridg Hunt, Esther Hunt, Meredith Jenkins, Mary Luecker (applicant for clerk position) Paul Mobius (notary), Lisa Modica, Bob Ruttenberg, Ken and Mary Walker.
I. The meeting was called to order at 9am and the Mayor opened with a quote from James Madison.
II. The meeting notes from the last meeting (July 15, 2017) were unanimously approved.
III. The Mayor announced that he would like to appoint Patrick Parcells to the trustee seat that he vacated upon becoming mayor. The appointment was unanimously approved. Patrick was sworn in and signed the registry.
IV. The Mayor announced his appointments to the Architectural Review Board (ARB), the Planning Board, and the Zoning Board of Approvals (ZBA). Appointments to fill vacant seats are not approved by the Trustees as the Mayor has sole discretion to make these appointments, but the residents appointed to vacant spots were unanimously approved:
a. Stephanie Deutsch was proposed to fill Heather Brownlie’s expired term and Alfredo Paredes was appointed to take the Mayor’s seat on the ARB; Mickey Kostkow was proposed to continue and is moving to chair
b. Kirk Ressler is assuming Ken Walker’s spot chairing the Planning Board, Stuart Goldman is taking the Mayor’s position to give more people a chance to serve, and Clora Kelly was appointed to the open spot previously held by Bob Ruttenberg.
c. Bob Ruttenberg and Ken Walker were proposed to join the ZBA (chaired by Tim Hogue), replacing Marianne Chort and ? [SIC], whose terms had expired.
Here is a complete list of the board members and their terms:
Architectural Review Board (3-year terms)
Michael Kostow, Chair (7/17-6/20)
Susannah Rose (7/16-6/19)
Stephanie Deutsch, (7/17-6/20)
Bridgford Hunt (7/16-6/19)
Alfredo Paredes (Mayor Appt., 7/17-6/18)
Village Planning Board (4-year terms)
Kirk Ressler, Chair (Mayor Appt,, 7/17-6/21)
Mickey Kostow (7/16-6/21)
Stuart Goldman, (Mayor Appt,, 7/15-6/20) Clora Kelly (7/17-6/21)
Linda Adams (7/13-6/18)
Zoning Board of Appeals (5-year terms)
Timothy Hogue, Chair (7/14-6/19)
Bob Ruttenberg (7/17-6/22)
Marian Brownlie (7/15-6/20)
Ken Walker (7/17-6/22)
Bridgford Hunt (7/14-6/18)
V. Karen asked for job descriptions for each of the DVH officials before they are officially appointed for the new year (at the last meeting we agreed that the officials would carry over without being officially appointed as we wait for more information on their job responsibilities, remuneration, etc.). John responded that he is working on these descriptions.
VI. We moved to the water situation and John asked Hap and Jason Hime, from the Suffolk County Health Department, to address the group. John stated that we’ve experienced over pumping in the month of July but that pressure was up and the height of the water in the tank is up to 90% since people pulled back on their irrigation, which points to over irrigation as a big part of the problem. Hap explained that he tests the water daily, and that when the chloride level goes above 250, which happens with excessive usage, he needs to notify the Health Department. On July 18th the water tested at 265 so the Health Department and John were notified at the end of the month when the test results came in. Hap explained that he has been searching for a leak and that he and Richie walked the Village, including the woods, looking for damp spots that would indicate a leak but did not find any. Jason spoke about a dramatic increase in water usage this July over last July. He explained that the corresponding rise in chlorides does not pose a health risk but can,Au over time, damage plumbing and water heaters as well as the VDH tank. Karen asked if residents irrigating from private wells have any impact on the VDH water. Jason explained that all of the water comes from the aquafore, and since salt water is more dense than fresh water, the fresh water floats on top of the salt water. Since all well water draws on the aquafore, over usage from private wells can cause salt water to enter into the VDH water. 90% of all water comes from rain water and the sandy composition of the island filters. Jason stated that Shelter Island has a very sensitive aquafore and that usage needs to be closely monitored, rain fall needs to be taken into account, and we need to inventory and understand who has private wells and is drawing on the aquafore. NY State regulates water removal and monitors our withdrawal, although the VDH has very few meters in private homes. Only one of our wells has a water meter, the other one is too old. Patrick asked if the water meter is accurate and Hap stated that there may be some margin of error but even if its 10% off the water usage is still too high. Ari asked if we know which homes are irrigating using the VDH wells, and Hap said we don’t know. John said we would address inventorying irrigation systems in executive session. He mentioned that water usage has only been tracked by VDH for the last seven months in response to an inquiry that Patrick previously made about usage.
The discussion then turned to the new water tank, which has been in the works for a few years. We have a bid to construct the new tank for $498k, which does not include the cost of the electrical work and a generator or the cost of an illuminated cyclone fence that Suffolk County is requiring based on the Department of Homeland Security requirements. John explained that we have a conditionally approved interest free loan from NY state to finance the project, but we need to show the state that we are able to get independent financing for the loan before they will grant us the state loan. Jonathan Cary asked how much the state is willing to loan us and what the total estimated project cost is. John explained that the projected total cost will be around $750k, and the loan is for $500k, so there is a short fall of approximately $250k. We will try to bid out the required electrical work to a local contractor to see if we can realize some savings, and John stated that he would be following up with H2M, the engineering and design firm that has been overseeing the manufacture and implementation of the tank.
VII. John moved to a resolution setting the 2017-2018 regular meeting dates to the first Saturday of the month and to adopt the rules of the Open Meetings Law.
The motions were unanimously approved and the new Trustee’s Meeting Dates moving forward are:
Sept 2, 2017, 9 a.m. (Labor Day weekend)
Oct 7, 2017, 10 a.m. (Columbus Day weekend)
Nov 4, 2017, 10 a.m.
December 2, 2017, 10 a.m. (no January meeting) February 3, 2018, 10 a.m.
March 3, 2018, 10 a.m.
April 7, 2018, 10 a.m.
May 5, 2018, 9 a.m.
June 2, 2018, 9 a.m.
July 7, 2018, 9 a.m. (organizational meeting)
Betsy stated that some residents have asked if it is necessary to have a March meeting and John said we would need to make sure the bills got paid but that we can look into this once we have a Clerk/Treasurer and can be assured that no vendors will be compromised.
VIII. John proposed a resolution by the Board of Trustees establishing procedures for the setting and notification of a special meeting, resolving that a special meeting of the Board of Trustees may be called by either the Mayor or by two Trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor acting together, and that in the event of a special meeting being called, the Mayor and every member of the Board of Trustees shall be informed by telephone by either the Village Clerk or another member of the Board of Trustees of the date, time, location and subject of the special meeting, and unless the meeting is called to respond to an emergency concerning the safety and welfare of the Village, notice of the meeting shall be given to the Trustees, newspapers and radio, and posted on the Village notice boards at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting. This resolution, along with a resolution adopting Robert’s Rules of Order as the official procedure of the Board, passed unanimously.
IX. The following resolutions passed unanimously:
a. Resolution appointing Nawrocki Smith, LLP as the Village Auditors,
b. Resolution authorizing payment of certain claims prior to audit
c. Resolution authorizing officers and employees of the Village to attend conferences and seminars.
d. Resolution authorizing and setting rate of mileage reimbursement for Village officers and employees.
e. Resolution determining cost of bonding Village officers to be a Village expense.
f. Resolution waiving the requirements of posting an undertaking for the Mayor and Trustees of the Village.
g. Resolution designating the official Village bank and depository to be the Bridgehampton National Bank.
h. Resolution designating the Shelter Island Reporter as the official Village newspaper.
i. Resolution adopting the Village of Dering Harbor’s cash management and investment policy.
j. Resolution adopting the Village procurement policy.
X. John moved to the Ways & Means section of the agenda so get approval of approximately $5k in expenditures. They were unanimously approved.
XI. John put together a P&L for review that will be audited and certified in September. It showed revenues of $337k, a decrease in revenues of $5,500. He pointed out that the 2016 Fire Department bill was not paid in 2016 so that liability will carry over to the current fiscal year. Ari noted that the tax revenue went down and asked why, John guessed that property assessments likely went down and o\pointed out that we don’t control that. Karen noted that one line item that ‘jumps out’ is legal expenses, representing over 15% of total expenditures, and that in the last two months it’s been over 31%. John stated that it’s on par with 2016 and agreed that it was high. He stated that this is the first time he has seen a P&L and he intends to have a Trustee work on P&Ls and present them monthly moving forward, backed up by an incoming Clerk/Treasurer, and noted that for the first time we will start looking at bills before they are paid so we’ll know more going forward. Karen asked how these high legal costs compare to other villages of comparable size and when John said he didn’t know Karen suggested that we reach out to the Association of Villages.
Rob Ferris asked about the insurance costs. There is a $22k insurance bill due in August. John noted that there is a one year bond for $21k due next March and that he’s not sure why the bond was taken out; Patrick said he thinks it was for the water system. John said that this information came from the bank and that he was going to meet with them to go over all of our financials. Patrick stated that “we have a lot of wood to chop” on the financials given that we were all under the impression that the water tank was going to cost no more than $200k while actually it will be approximately $750k, and we are just finding out about this additional bond that has apparently gone to additional expenses already incurred for the water tank. John agreed.
Moving to insurance, John provided additional information that he had requested from the broker. Ari stated that we should press the insurance broker on why they said that they couldn’t bid out our insurance policy. John said that he would follow up with the broker and ask him to come meet with us. Betsy asked if we could meet with the broker and suggested that we look into revising or getting rid of the schedule for fine arts and furniture. John agreed. Ken Walker said we should look around and make sure that we are being properly quoted because some insurance companies mistakenly show Shelter Island in a worse flood zone that it is. We agreed to pay the premium as due in August and then to reevaluate the policy with the broker.
XII. John stated that dry wells are going to be installed shortly along Yucko Road and a new speed bump was installed by Stuart’s house. Ari said that the speed bump near Alfredo’s and Brad house should be moved because people go around it. Lisa Modica advocated for more speed bumps and Stuart Goldman agreed, and it was noted that the speed bumps should have room for bicycles to go by so children don’t fall off their bikes. John said they would add another speed bump before the Brownlie’s and make sure there is room for kids to bike around the sides or make a gap in the middle.
XIII. Jim Dougherty, Supervisor for the Town of Shelter Island, told John that they have a grant to replace/upgrades cesspools and that we will apply for funds.
XIV. Beautification of Village Hall and town land was the final topic that John raised. He’s spoken to Mary Walker about chairing an effort to enhance VDH. Ken Walker stated that he would provide ideas and in fact followed up after the meeting with an email to residents. Rob Ferris said that a good place to start would be the trash that can be found along VDH roads, and John mentioned that Richie could be directed to help pick up roadside trash and clean street signs as part of his duties. Stay tuned for more ideas.
Finally, as the meeting came to a close Jonathan Cary commended John for putting together the first ever P&L we’ve seen at a VDH meeting and said that, while it was a great stride forward in terms of transparency, we have a huge nut to crack with this $750k water project? especially given that we are operating at break-even at best. Karen responded by saying that we need a finance committee that could draw on the financial expertise of our residents. John agreed and added that one of the Trustees should chair this committee.
At this point the meeting was adjourned so the Mayor and Trustees could go into executive session to interview the three top candidates for Village Clerk.
After the executive session the Mayor and Trustees regrouped in a public forum to discuss the water leak further. Patrick argued that we need to get water meters for everyone so we can monitor usage more accurately. Ari agreed and stated that we should consider charging for people who are over-using “as a matter of fairness.” He added that since new homes are required to have private wells for irrigation we should require all homes to have them as a matter of fairness. Betsy suggested that we canvas all residents to figure out who has irrigation systems and if they are on private wells or using VDH water. John said he would ask Kirk to take on this task as head of the Planning Committee. It was agreed that we would ask all residents to continue all conservation efforts, especially regarding irrigation given that Hap feels that is the source of the over-use.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 11am.