Councilman Marian Vanni chose the July 10 meeting of the North Collins Town Board to formally present her resignation. It will take effect July 31. Vanni will be relocating to North Carolina.
While her departure has been anticipated, the actual date was not. In comments at meeting’s end Vanni suggested that since she is Republican, the board should appoint another to fill the vacancy. That brought a protest from Councilman George LoBianco, a member of the town’s Democratic Committee. He reminded Vanni that she won election as a Democrat and chose to switch affiliation when she became Deputy Supervisor. “If you’re going to play the game that way, then the vacancy should be filled with a Democrat,” LoBianco said. He added that he wished Vanni had submitted her resignation earlier as it is too late in the year to add the seat to the election ballot for this year. “I would rather let the people decide who will fill the seat,” he said.
Councilman Jeffrey Krauss was joined by LoBianco in offering endorsed Democratic candidate Genaro “Joe”Garcia Rios to fill the seat but Supervisor Rosaline Seege’s nay canceled the motion. That could see a deadlock continue at least through year’s end with the board now comprised of the two Democrats and Seege joined by Councilman Michael Perry as the Republican representatives.
The seats held by Krauss and LoBianco are up for election this year. LoBianco has decided not to seek another term while Krauss, who also serves as Town Democratic Chairman, will run again together with Garcia Rios. Announced Republican candidates are John Tobia and Karen Ricotta. The Vanni seat, which has two years remaining, would come up at the general election in 2014 and could remain vacant that long if the deadlock is not broken or a compromise candidate found.
Vanni also stated that “It has been an honor and privilege to serve on the Council for the last 14-years,” But she also felt it necessary for some serious reflection, “I have never seen such dissension on this board as I have over the past 18 months,” she said, “Normally I work behind the scenes and I realize we can’t do much to elected officials, but unfortunately some have chosen to grandstand on mistakes.” Vanni continued, “We are servants of the people no matter how long someone has been in office and I hope people come to these meetings and hold elected officials accountable.”
While not naming anyone, Vanni’s remarks came just minutes after she complained that four bills had been added to the abstract by Town Clerk Margaret Orrange that had not been part of those reviewed by herself or other board members. Orrange said they had been given her by the Town Bookkeeper and thought the Supervisor wanted them included. Seege reminded her that a board resolution calls for all late bills to be approved by the board at its meeting first before adding them to the abstract.
Seege also asked Orrange on the progress on minutes for the past six months that were the subject of a special meeting held a week prior. The clerk replied “It’s only been a week, minutes aren’t the only thing I have to do, you’ll get them when I can get to them.”
That prompted Seege to call for a set deadline and Krauss suggesting one month. LoBianco though said he would work with the clerk over the next several weeks to help her complete the task.
Highway Superintendent David Winter reported that over $10,000 has been received in donations towards park beautification projects. “People are appreciative of our parks,” he said. He also received permission to pay for repairs to a truck transmission for $2,175 and a new engine for the grader at $1,500. His request to acquire one of the two surplus ambulances for highway department use was also approved. Electrical upgrades will be performed at New Oregon park with the highway department providing trenching and an electrician performing the work at $1,400.
Code Enforcement Officer Phil Tremblay asked the board for direction concerning abandoned homes, specifically if the town was interested in mowing overgrown grass at sites as the village does.
Additionally he had a specific complaint on one parcel in Lawtons where an above ground pool had been installed below grade and broken fencing allows persons to enter the area. After conferring with Town Attorney Richard Schaus, Tremblay made arrangements with the Lawtons Fire Company to drain the water from the pool. He has also talked with councilman, as well as Village Public Works Director Mike Perry about filling in the hole as well as securing a broken barn door that allows children to play in the structure.
Recreation Director Rozalin Warren gave updates on currently running programs and received praise from LoBianco for taking town programs “The next step up.” Seege added that the additional programming has been done while staying within the department’s budget.
Ricotta suggested more be done to promote information on the town’s web site, www.northcollinsny.org.