Discussion of safety on Route 9W and the passing of the new five-year contract with Orangetown Police dominated much of Tuesday's Orangetown Town Board meeting, but those were far from the only actions on a busy agenda.
One key item was the unanimous vote by the board to adopt the 2013 budget calendar. The full calendar is included in the copy of the agenda attached to this report. The next deadline is July 30, when department heads must submit estimates of operating revenues and costs for 2013. This is earlier than in previous years to allow more time for adjustments.
Supervisor Andy Stewart's tentative budget proposal is due to the town clerk by Sept. 24 and Nov. 20 is the legal deadline for the town to approve its 2013 budget.
One important element in the calendar is setting a public budget hearing for 8 p.m. Nov. 7. The possible override of the state's mandated two percent tax cap is included in the language in an attempt to avoid the last-minute adjustments that had to be made during the 2012 budget process.
The Orangetown Board also held two public hearings, though only one was completed. The first focused on changes to the town code to allow for an increase in fees and changing the normal hours for the Bureau of Fire Prevention.
The fees being changed are for inspections related to special events, such as inspecting tents or fireworks on holidays and Sundays. Any inspector sent to such an event must be paid for a minimum of three hours regardless of how long the inspection takes. The increase is from $200 to $300.
"If it is off hours, we as a town have to have a union member work on an off tour," Councilman Denis Troy said. "We are paying time and a half. Therefore, we are upping the fee, as requested by the fire inspector."
Fire inspector Michael Bettman said they only do off hours inspections for special events, not regular fire safety. These are relatively rare, with three such inspections in 2011 and two so far this year.
The town board approved the change unanimously.
Tuesday's second public hearing regarded the requested adjustments to the conditions for The Point at Lake Tappan Project by Pearl River Veterans LLC, represented by Donald Brenner.
The site plan has changed, including a shift from 120 units to 160. The site was approved for senior housing in 2007, but now the developer wants to switch from selling to renting units within.
The developers are hoping to begin construction by October, which would allow them to have units ready to rent by next spring. This would mean an increase in taxes brought into the town and the Pearl River School District.
"It would be a tax increase of over 336 percent with limited services required of the town," Brenner said. "We think there is a need. We think there is a demand. We think it is an attractive design."
Anticipated rent for the units would be $1,750 for one bedroom, $2,250 for the smaller ones with two bedrooms and $2,500 for the larger ones with two bedrooms.
Part of the debate focused on the choice between building condominiums for sale as opposed to rentals.
"I would love to have condos there, but there is no market for it," Councilman Tom Diviny said.
There were still some open questions, and the town is waiting for information from Rockland County, so the hearing was continued until the Orangtown Council workshop July 17.
The town board approved all other measures on Tuesday's agenda, including the declaration of surplus Highway Department equipment and the awarding of electricity and natural gas bids.
One item under new business was the modification of the town's agreement with Wilson, Elser, Moscowitz, Edelmen & Dicker, LLC, a lobbying service that represents Orangetown to the state legislature. Under the new agreement, the town is paying $5,000 for their services from June 15 through the end of the year.
This was done after the state Assembly would not approve the town's request for right of first refusal to purchase state-owned land within the Rockland Psychiatric Center and Rockland Children's Psychiatric Center.
"They want to keep working and make sure we are happy," Stewart said. "Therefore, we will keep on using them. They are essentially working for six months for free."