Here is a selected "hitlist" of my current projects. This is obviously far too much text for a "blog," and still does not cover all the work going on just out of the Supervisor's office, not to mention other members of the Town Council and various departments:
Sick Leave Policy - salvaged this stalled effort, worked with Town attorneys and department heads. Town Board adopted policy unanimously on 3/29/12. Paid sick days are a right under present union contracts -- you just have to be sick to use them. The new policy provides guidance to department heads and supervisors for the implementation of paid sick leave and the "flagging" of inappropriate uses of paid sick leave (such as before and after vacation days, and other patterns).
RPC - gathering information and perspective on this massive redevelopment challenge. Coordinated two tours of the RPC and Children's Hospital sites for community leaders and real estate developers. Working with Suzanne Barclay, members of Town Council, consulting planner John Saccardi and department heads to re-activate planning process and assess our options. Recently helped a datacenter developer tour the Broadacres site, as well as Blue Hill office building, in partnership with Orange and Rockland and the Rockland Economic Development Corporation/IDA.
Broadacres Budgeting - Because funding for the head greenskeeper position was eliminated in 2011, the Town had to decide to either fund this position or close the course. Of course, we voted to fund the position and stay open for 2012, but in the process raised serious questions, and developed a much fuller understanding, about the annual budget deficits at Broadacres and what the costs and savings of Broadacres closure would be.
Union Negotiations - Due to the Pfizer downsizing and skyrocketing costs of health care and pensions, the Town is in a very tough spot financially and cannot afford to raise employee pay significantly. The Town Board wants very much to meet the 2% tax cap and labor is our biggest cost. Thus, negotiations with the CSEA and PBA are not over yet by any means.
Rockland County's financial issues - These spill onto Orangetown in the form of pass-down costs, such as the anticipated $350,000 the Town may have to pay for running local elections this year if the County does not get its sales tax increase from Albany. Funding for the Town police officers serving in the Countywide narcotics and intel units has also been threatened. I led the Town Board in setting a deadline of April 15th for the County to make clear commitment to continue reimburshing the Town for these officers, or the Town will pull its officers out of the program. Without a contract, it is likely we would never receive compensation.
Murder at Rockland Psych Center - Curtis Wilson, the apparent murderer, never should have been sent to RPC, and should not have been in a voluntary out-patient program. I am working with the Police Chief, RPC management and other stakeholders to identify parolees and other potentially violent people being treated at RPC, and to get a clear commitment from NYS Office of Mental Health that they will not be sending violent felons to RPC.
Sewer Dept Staffing - This department is upgrading its leadership team with the recent addition of a new director/commissioner. While the Commissioner technically can appoint a Deputy, I led the creation of a competitive and open interview process for this important professional position. The Town Board voted to create the Deputy position, and I look forward to participating in the interview process to find the best person for this non-union job. Through training and promotions, the department is cultivating outstanding workers. The Town Board also just hired full-time the Chief Operator who had been working as an outside contractor two days a week. These staffing improvements will help this department move well beyond its problem-plagued past.
Land Use Boards - Coordinating interviews and appointments of volunteers to the planning, zoning and architectural boards. Next up is the Housing Authority and the many other important citizen advisory committees, all listed on the Town website.
Public Access - Increased access to Town Board meeting agendas via electronic and hard copy distribution and initiated web-based calendar of Town's official business meetings open to the public. I'm also working with the Town IT staff to develop a plan for upgrading the audio and video quality for showing Town meetings on cable, and adding capacity to broadcast local access cable programming to be provided by schools and other community sources.
Rte 303/Erie St Safety Improvements - convened stakeholder meeting of local businesses and NYS DOT officials to review this important state highway project. Large map/aerial photo of design on display at Town Hall.
Deputy Receiver of Taxes - stopped Town from funding this unnecessary position and shifted money to start funding the cost of running local elections, since the 2012 adopted budget did not foresee this cost.
Pfizer - Forged relationship with Pfizer site management and marketing team to better understand how Town can help find tenants for this important site. If Pfizer does not lease empty buildings, it will likely tear them down and ask for further tax reductions, adding to the 5% of Town assessed value already lost due to Pfizer downsizing.
2013 Town Budget - Initiating budget process much earlier this year, with plans for more thorough review of departmental requests, multiyear budgeting and better communication with the public. Can we make the tax cap? We'll leave no stone unturned!
TZ Bridge - Spoke out against extremely high projected tolls and land takings, as well as need for new bridge that really meets the needs of Rockland and Orangetown residents, as well as regional and national highway safety.
Desalination Plant - Monitored this issue closely and spoke in favor of greater focus on wastewater treatment to possibly augment the Hackensack River and downstream NJ reservoirs, while preserving more water in Lake Deforest for Rockland's use. Advanced wastewater treatment takes place on the Ramapo River, helping to prevent water shortages. It may make more sense to upgrade our wastewater treatment capacity (Orangetown's sewer plant sends over 9 million gallons a day of treated water into the Hudson River), than to build an expensive desal plant to cleanup up polluted Hudson River water...
Orangetown Cleanup Day - planned for Saturday, April 14th, 9-noon at Town Hall - free trash bags, donuts, and an Arbor Day tree planting event at 10 AM. Come out and celebrate Earth Day!!
Stay tuned for regular updates from the Orangetown Supervisor's office, and feel free to chime in with your suggestions, questions and comments.