Photo by Barbara Friedman/Flickr.

NEWFIELD, N.Y. —The Town of Newfield Board held its monthly meeting Thursday night, virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, where the board unanimously voted to alter the 2020 budget slightly.

The second meeting to be held using Zoom, town officials say they are still in the process of working out how to best use the technology.

“We are still getting our feet wet with Zoom. Sometimes you can hear an echo as people talk but as we get more adept will have deeper discussions on issues,” said Michael Allinger, town supervisor.

The agenda can be found here.

Budget Modification
The board voted unanimously on two budget alterations, the first was an adjustment to reflect that workers in the highway department and court are still being paid, and the other a modification to the cost of long term and short term disability insurance.

“We had to increase the amount from $835 for an increase of $2,665 for a new total of $3,500,” Allinger said after the meeting.

In what is hopefully the last budget modification needed for the 2020 budget, Allinger said the vote was the result of switching bookkeepers within the last year.

“Our previous bookkeeper retired and our records were not in order. So we created our 2020 budget based upon the records we had at the time and then we come to find out our numbers are incorrect, so we have had to make several budget modifications,” Allinger said.

With the old bookkeeper, who Allinger said retired due to issues that were impacting their job performance, no longer employed by the town and a new bookkeeper in place, these kinds of issues should no longer be so prevalent he said.
“We have found a good replacement who is putting everything back into line,” Allinger said.

As to the budget modification relating to worker pay Allinger said that it was important in order to maintain a balanced budget. “You don’t just want a balanced budget at the end of the year, but throughout the entirety of the year,” Allinger said.

Department of Environmental Conservation issues
The board received an update from Allinger as it pertains to DEC involvement regarding the creation of silt and substrate from the dredging of the Cayuga Lake inlet created by a project designed to expand capacity for larger boats.

“We were looking into it after some residents came with questions regarding the dredging so in the course of looking into that we had to play phone tag to find out that the person we needed to talk to had retired before the shelter in place order came down,” Allinger said.

He added that he finally found the right person to call and based upon everything he has received, all paperwork and permits for the project appear to be in order.

Action Items
The board voted unanimously to approve a $500,000 borrowing increase for the town’s Culvert project to a new total of $750,000.

Allinger said after the meeting the increase was necessary to ensure the town had the liquidity to pay project workers despite having already been approved for enough grant funding to pay for the project.

“We have been approved for the grants but the money has not come yet. After looking at the project and the time it would take to recoup all the grant money we decided we needed short term money to fill the void,” Allinger said.

Once the grant money comes in Allinger said that money would be used to pay off the money the town borrowed to complete the Culvert.

Junkyard Law
Recently appointed Junkyard Officer and Planning Board member Randy Brown provided an update to the board detailing his efforts to bring residents into compliance with the laws already on the books while also working to amend the existing town junkyard law in an attempt to modernize it.

“Everything seems fine with the attorney but we are also running it by code enforcement. Randy has also submitted a letter for review that he plans on issuing to help people come into compliance with the law,” Allinger said.

Allinger added that the town isn’t looking to make money or harass people with the junkyard law but instead to help residents find ways to bring their property into compliance. “We just want to help,” Allinger said.

Hamlet Beautification
Allinger announced that Randy Brown once again intends to donate $1,000 for the hamlet beautification process. Every year the money Brown donates is used to hire young residents to plant flowers and spread mulch throughout the town.

“They are not paid much of a salary, but what salary is paid is offset by Randy’s donation every year,” Allinger said.

Public Hearing
With an upcoming subdivision law proposed by the Planning Board in need of a public hearing so that the public can comment on the project town officials are scrambling to see if it is possible to do remotely.

“We are going to have to figure out how to do that unless things change in the next month or so, which I don’t see happening,” Allinger said.

Featured image courtest of Barbara Friedman.