October 23, 2013 —
The Tusten Town Council met on Tuesday, October 8. Councilman Ned Lang was not in attendance. During the division reports, Andrea Reynosa of the Tusten Local Development Corporation (TLDC) reported that they had recently met and discussed the audit of the TLDC. She said that there are no funds to cover the cost of the audit, and that if it cannot be done, the TLDC will dissolve by January. She also mentioned that a private citizen might pay for the cost. However, if the TLDC dissolves, the Tusten Community Garden will still function.
In regards to the audit, in April Lang contacted the IRS out of Binghamton to alert them that the employees of the garden were paid as independent contractors, and he requested an audit. But there was going to be an audit of the TLDC anyway, because the state mandates an audit of subsidiaries of government, which the TLDC is considered to be.
Later in the meeting, Supervisor Carol Ropke Wingert brought up the community garden, and whether or not the kids who worked at the garden were independent contractors or employees. There was some discussion among the board on the matter, but they decided to table it until the next meeting.
In an interview after the meeting, Reynosa said that the TLDC is there to develop the community and bring it together. “The TLDC can serve a function,” she said. “But it has to be something that the town wants.”
Although councilman Lang wasn’t present, he wanted the board to bring up and discuss the possibility of contracting out the Water and Sewer department to a private contractor. Wingert said that according to Lang, if they did this, it would save the town $80,000. He later said that it would save $50,000. Wingert said that in the past the town has looked into privatizing departments, and that it would actually not save the town money. Further, the board said that Dominic Hillard, the superintendent of the Water and Sewer Department, is already doing a good job and is reliable and available 24/7, whereas an independent contractor might not be available all the time and might charge extra for holidays and such. During the division reports, Hillard said that there was a problem with the water pump at the restaurant at Gerard’s River Grill and he stayed there until midnight to pump manually until the problem was resolved. Ultimately, the board decided not to go with a private contractor.
The board said that they have been meeting to propose a 2014 Town of Tusten budget and they have reached a conclusion. Wingert said there will be a 0% tax increase. The board will present the budget to the public at a public hearing on November 7 at 6:30 p.m.
The board announced that they received a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) and were awarded $3,500 to go toward the town’s emergency management plan.