Story by Katie Bisaro
Across New York State, during the month of April, the various villages state-wide hold their annual reorganization meetings. The Village of Warwick held its annual “re-org” on Mon., Apr. 1. Included in the lengthy list of appointees, Trustee Barry Cheney was designated as Deputy Mayor and Michael Moser will continue as the Department of Public Works Supervisor.
Raina Abramson remains as the Village Clerk and new to Village Hall this year is the Deputy Clerk is Maryann Benedict. A new Deputy Treasurer has also been hired, Denise Bulnes, who will be working with Village Treasurer Cathy Richards. Previously, one Village Hall employee acted as both the deputy clerk and deputy treasurer.
Other continuing positions include: Village Accountant, Michael Vernieri; Village Engineer, Lehman & Getz; Village Attorney, Drake Loeb, PLCC; Computer Consultant, Kevin Brand, of TCG Solutions; and Grant Writer Linda Smith.
The Village Recreation Director is Ron Introini and Bill Iurato will head up the Summer Concert season. Ivy Jordan Tulin has been appointed Village Historian, Donna Haley is the Poet Laureate, and the Village Artists in Residence are Elliot Belokostolsky and Peter Liepke.
The Warwick Valley Dispatch has once again been named as the official Village newspaper. The full list of appointments is available at the Village Hall, located at 77 Main St. in Warwick.
New Policies & Procedures Adopted During 2018-19
Following the acceptance by the Village Trustees of the recited Village appointments, Mayor Michael Newhard recapped the 2018-19 Policies and Procedures that have been adopted or are currently being reviewed for future implementation.
Many of the policies were developed as a means of improving check and balance procedures within the Village, as well as for better efficiency and transparency. For example, all departments that collect funds will now be using duplicate numbered receipt books and revenue deposits are immediately entered into the financial software system. Record keeping procedures have been updated within the various Village departments and interoffice procedures were implemented as well.
Additional check and balance procedures that have been updated throughout various Village departments include check signature procedures, as well as the processes for banking transfer approval and account reconciliation.
New Payment Options Available for Taxes, Water Bills, & Fees
Beginning Sat., Jun. 1, residents will have online options for paying their Village tax bill, including the use of credit and debit cards or electronic checking. Taxes may also be paid, in person, at Village Hall, via credit or debit cards.
Residents can now access, online, a five-year history of their taxes. By mid-summer, water/sewer bills will also be available for payment online using the same methods above. Water/sewer bills will be available for view, with a secure PIN number, at any hour of the day, any day of the week.
Additionally, the Village has reduced the number of water/sewer mailings and implemented a water/sewer dispute procedure. Finally, court fines and parking tickets are payable online.
The Village has adopted a Sexual Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure and is in the process of reviewing procurement and investment policies.
In addition to the Sexual Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure, the Employee Handbook has been further updated to include an increased insurance buyout, clarification of the retiree health benefits, and several other sections have been revised and updated.
The Recreation Department has a new manual and procedures and policies for fee collection. For Recreation Department personnel, background checks on all staff over the age of 18 will be performed.
The Village has established eight reserve accounts: Water Debt, Dam Repair, Waste Facility, Sewer Debt, Unemployment Insurance Payment, Parking Lot, Infrastructure, and Equipment.
Mayor Newhard reported that the Village of Warwick received several grants, including approximately $3.1 million to go towards the future Wastewater Treatment Plant and $75,000 for a bucket truck. The Village has received $50,000 for the Memorial Park–McFarland Dr. walkway and parking lot; an Orange County Tourism grant for $2,500; and $75,000 for handicap accessible surfacing at the new Stanley-Deming Park playground. Another $50,000 was received for a parking lot at Veteran’s Memorial Park and $8,000 for a Municipal Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) from a ZEV Infrastructure Rebate Program.
Mayor Newhard commended all those who worked on these updates and changes to the Village’s policies and procedures.
“The new policy changes at Village Hall were developed through the hard work of many: Village Clerk Raina Abramson, Treasurer Cathy Richards, Village Accountant Michael Vernieri, the Village Board of Trustees, and guidance from NYS Comptroller Representative, Maryellen Tobin. These are sweeping internal changes to make local government more efficient, transparent and accountable,” Newhard said.