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Dispatch responsibilities decided in North Collins

The North Collins Town Board appointed Peter Loretto as Assistant Helmuth Control Coordinator following a request by the Helmuth Advisory Council. Loretto had led the center prior to submitting a letter of resignation to the board prior to appointments being made this year. The appointment came less than a week following the last advisory board meeting and also saw a large contingent from the group attend this town board meeting.

Town Supervisor Rosaline Seege used the opportunity to critique the dispatch board for failing to advise her. Seege felt she was placed in the hot seat at its last meeting and said, “I did not enjoy being ambushed.” She further stated that she believes she has now fully explained the exact workings of the dispatch center and the town’s role as lead agency. Charles Hohman, chair of the advisory council agreed that Seege has attended all the council meetings and that at times full participation from all council members has been lacking.

The Helmuth discussion and the presence of Village Mayor, Vincent George and Deputy Mayor, Brenda Bauer-Petrus, found Councilman George LoBianco to suggest the Village of North Collins assume the roll of lead agency of the dispatching center.

A week earlier at the village board meeting the village’s cost towards Helmuth and recent actions by the town had come under questioning.

Mayor George said that the village does not have the staffing to take on the roll.

Former Town Supervisor Thomas O’Boyle said that all North Collins does “Is the payroll. You need to get all the other communities involved in decision making.”

LoBianco replied “If all we were doing was the payroll it would be fine.” He said in his five years on the board, Helmuth has taken considerable time away from town business and he has received numerous phone calls concerning dispatch operations.

Seege added that while the town provides the payroll service, that duty automatically makes dispatchers town employees and thus adds personnel to the list to duties. She further stated that “I have no problem with continuing operating Helmuth.”

In a related matter dispatcher Russ Judson reported that installation and full conversion to the new frequency had been completed.

The board approved Local Law No. 1 which governs the installation of wind turbines in the town.

Bids were opened for a new tractor with attachments for roadside mowing. The lowest of three bids was from Joe Johnson Equipment of Rochester for $89,730.

Noting the high cost, LoBianco asked if the equipment could be rented or borrowed from nearby towns when needed.

Highway Superintendent David Winter said he had researched that option but decided it was not in the town’s best interest since the rate would be $5,000 per month and the work is weather related and a machine might not be available to rent when needed.

In an exchange between the two, Winter said the machine is needed for public safety and will replace a 40-year-old tractor that the State Labor Department has forbidden the town from using. The board approved the low-bid tractor purchase in a 3-2 vote with LoBianco and Councilman Jeffrey Krauss voting no.

LoBianco also questioned town issuance of cell phones stating it was cost $600 per month for the service. His solution would be to offer stipends to employees and elected officials towards the cost of their personal phones.

Seege said she had just restructured the cell phone account to a municipality service which will bring savings to the town.

LoBianco said he would wait until the next meeting to see what the savings would be. He promised to make a motion to eliminate the phones if he felt the figure was too high.

Town Justice Mike Stevens also had cell phones on his mind and inquired about the $2,000 charge the town incurred for a phone with a number not currently in service. Seege replied that a refund of those charges would be coming soon. He also complained that court dates or contact information were not listed on the town’s web site. Seege said that any information Stevens would want on the site should be given to bookkeeper Agnes Parks. Stevens also addressed lighting problems both inside and outside of the town court. Councilman Mike Perry has been in touch with an electrician about the problem which should be rectified soon.

Winter reported on his recent attendance along with other town highway superintendents in Albany to lobby for additional state funding for town roads. He felt lawmakers were very receptive to the request. In reply to resident Paul Lawton, Winter said that the sign for New Oregon Park had been restored and will be reerected. He further reported that 5 new motors will be needed for the highway barn doors to comply with Labor Department regulations. The estimated cost is $1,200 for each and he will secure bids.

Town Clerk Margaret Orrange reported that bulk trash pickup will resume in April on the third pickup day each month through October.

Town Attorney Richard Schaus reported that the contract for monitoring the Ketchum Road landfill has been signed and an inspection will be scheduled soon.

Recreation Director Rozalin Warren reported that all was in place to begin an after school program at the elementary school beginning April 8. Calling it a pilot program, Warren said permission slips have been sent to parents and several replies have been received. The program will run from dismissal until 6 p.m. through the end of the school year. LoBianco added that he hopes the program can grow further to provide options for the town youth. “Unless you are in a sports program, there is nothing for kids to do after school,” he said.

Krauss reported that the next electronic recycling program will be held May 17 and 18 and that he is planning to replace the flags at the town parks. LoBianco encouraged again placing new signs at key entrances in town and solicited ideas for slogans that could be placed on them.

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