October 16, 2013 —
In the face of a Congressional stalemate and a federal government shutdown, the Cochecton Town Board at its October 9 monthly meeting pressed on with town business.
The first order of business was opening the only sealed bid that was received for a 12-inch wood chipper. Highway Superintendent Kevin Esselman’s initial request for purchase of a wood chipper, made during clean-up from Hurricane Sandy damage, had been tabled for several months because bids received on 18-inch and 15-inch chippers were considered by the board to be prohibitive in cost.
The town’s need of a chipper was never in question. It was the size most appropriate for town highway needs that was debated among board members and Esselman, with Esselman urging purchase of a chipper capable of handling the largest mature pine tree damage.
Even though the bid for the 12-inch chipper was higher than the board would have liked, it was accepted unanimously (minus councilperson Anna Story, absent due to illness). When town supervisor Gary Maas opened the floor to public comment on the evening’s agenda, councilperson candidate Joan Glase thanked the board for choosing the most frugal option.
Tax collector Eileen Hennessy reported that implementation of software that will permit credit card payment of tax bills is going forward. She explained that this will be accomplished at no cost to the town and that ongoing software support will also be provided free of charge.
Hennessy made clear that the service charge associated with each credit card payment will be incurred by the taxpayer and is calculated as a percentage of the payment amount.
Therefore, the higher the payment, the higher the service charge. And Hennessy mentioned that there is an additional “convenience fee,” also paid by the taxpayer, that will be awarded to the town. Maas questioned the necessity of the convenience fee, remarking that he saw no reason for the town to derive monetary benefit from making the tax collection process more user-friendly. He will explore that issue further with the software manufacturer.
While announcing town revenue figures for the month, Maas revealed that the town had realized its first significant savings from the new remote banking deposit software, installed at no cost to the town.
In the past, the relatively high revenues would have meant several costly trips to the bank to make deposits. But the new software permits deposits to be made directly from town hall, thereby saving mileage allowances.
During Cochecton Youth Commission (CYC) liaison Ed Grund’s report on the group’s monthly activities, reflecting large turnouts for scheduled events, CYC board member Hennessy interjected that sustained high interest in commission events has prompted the board to plan more ambitious outings in the future.
Trips to New York City to attend the theatre and other cultural and entertainment events are in the works, as are trips to Binghamton for ice hockey games.
Upper Delaware Council (UDC) liaison Larry Richardson’s report on the last meeting of the council included its decision to suspend its operations on October 25 and place its staff on unpaid furlough for the duration of the government shutdown.
Until the UDC resumes operations, Richardson will forego the $100 monthly stipend he receives from the town for his liaison duties.
Maas recessed the meeting until 7 p.m. on October 27, when the board will meet for a 2014 budget workshop session and will work with acting town attorney Karen Mannino to draft several legal documents, including a shared services agreement with nearby towns.