Story by Christina Hedding
The Village of Florida Board of Trustees held their monthly business meeting on Wed., Mar. 8. Trustees John Barzcak and Thomas Fuller were absent from the meeting. However, the meeting was still held with Mayor Jim Pawliczek, Trustee Brian Slattery and Trustee Craig Olejniczak.
The Village received information from Niklas Moran, of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), about a $50,000 grant available for clean energy projects in municipalities around the state. The grant would help cover the cost for municipalities to convert electric streetlights into LED or solar powered lights. Village Building Inspector Adrian Mateosian spoke about the benefits of conversion to LED or solar powered lights, stating that although there would be an initial expense to convert the lights, in the long run it would save the Village a lot of money on electric as they currently spend around $6,000 a month to light the streetlights. Mateosian also suggested that the Village of Florida join a Lighting Consortium, to partner with and learn from other Villages who have made the switch from electric.
As part of the discussion, Mateosian also brought up the idea of installing solar lights in the parking lot behind Rookies Pizzeria, as the lot is in need of more lighting. The 20 watt solar lights would cost $890 each unless purchased in bulk. The Board decided to take this information into consideration, along with the state grant.
Mayor Jim Pawliczek said the Board would discuss the issue further at their next work session. He also said that Mateosian should look into the Consortuim’s meeting schedule so that the Village can gather more information. At the end of the discussion, Mateosian stated that although the Village would have to expend money for the maintenance of the new streetlights, overall the savings would benefit the Village in the long run.
Comprehensive Master Plan
Robert Scott, Planning Board Chairman, requested that the Board consider updating the Comprehensive Master Plan. According to Scott, NYS law requires the plan to be updated every five to eight years. The Village’s current plan has been in place since 2002 and Scott said that many issues have come up that the old plan does not address. In order to update the plan, the Village would have to hire a planner to review the current plan and make necessary adjustments so it is more up to date.
Mayor Pawliczek voiced his concern that hiring a planner to create a new plan would be expensive. He suggested that the Planning Board meet with the Village Board in order to discuss the current Comprehensive Master Plan and make the decision on how to best go forward with updating the plan.
Resolution Objecting to Proposed ‘County-wide Shared Service Property Tax Savings Plan’
The Board voted to send a letter to the State Legislative office opposing the enactment of the “County-wide Shared Service Property Tax Savings Plan” proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The plan would require counties to create shared consolidation plans for property taxes which would take power away from small municipalities by lumping them together. The plan would require that municipalities construct a plan and put it to vote in November. If the plan is rejected, they would have to create a new plan for the following election year.
The proposed savings plan also excludes school districts which make up the majority of property and real estate taxes in New York. The main issue is that New York State already requires local referendums and Villages are already required to prepare efficiency plans in order for homeowners to be eligible for property tax rebates. The Board opposes the plan under the claim that it irresponsibly erodes local home rule and unfairly treats the local government of towns, villages and cities as the enemies of fiscal responsibility instead of recognizing them as partners.
The Village voiced strong objection to the Governor’s “County-wide Shared Service Property Tax Savings Plan” and urges the state legislature not to enact it. They concluded the resolution stating that copies of the letter would be sent to several local and state officials including Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Senators William Larkin and John Bonacic, and New York State Assemblymen Karl Brabenec, Aileen Gunther, Frank Skartados and James Skoufis.
Trustee Craig Olejniczak brought up an issue regarding a Village of Florida resident, Serrano, whose mailbox was knocked over during the last snow storm by a Village plow. Serrano had reached out to the Village because the mailbox was not fixed properly. As the mailbox was not totally destroyed, it had been reattached with a bungee cord. According to Olejniczak, this was not the Village’s permanent fix to the issue. He made it clear that the mailbox had only been bungee corded temporarily so that the residents could receive their mail. He added that Public Works employee, Richard Carr, was going to complete a more permanent fix as soon as possible.
Muhlrad Water Meter
Elias Muhlrad wrote to the Board to check up on his request to put a water pit meter in for properties that he is developing. The request was presented to the Board over six months ago. Muhlrad also requested water from the Village for a proposed office/warehouse space in the Town of Goshen. Mayor Pawliczek said that the Board would recommend that the water meter be installed first and after reads were collected, they would reevaluate Muhlrad’s request.
Stone Wall Repair
The Board discussed the matter of the stone wall alongside the Village Hall parking lot on Cohen Cir. It has been crumbling for a while and could begin to pose a problem for the Village. Trustee Brian Slattery said that Trustee Tom Fuller had gotten quotes last year for the repair, but they would need to get new quotes. The Board members debated over what materials, paving stones or mafia stones, and decided to look further into the issue to determine the cost at the next work session.
In matters of old business, the Board voted to hold a Public Hearing on Wed., Apr. 12 to discuss the local law that would provide for changes to the Village of Florida Code about “Planned Adult Communities” to decrease the over 55 years of age residential ratio from 100 percent to 20 or 30 percent of residents. Any residents who want to speak will be allowed to voice their concerns or support.
The next meeting of the Village of Florida Board of Trustees will be held on Wed., Apr. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Village Hall, located at 33 S. Main St. in Florida.