Monticello board debates stipends, residences
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Monticello’s village board meeting was an unexpectedly calm affair last Monday evening.
A few complaints and short-lived arguments cropped up, but trustees seemed to put some effort into maintaining the peace.
The following actions of note were taken:
• A public hearing was set for the April 6 meeting (7 p.m. at the Ted Stroebele Recreation Center) regarding a proposed law to hold back the issuance of a building permit until all fees, charges and taxes have been paid on the property in question.
• Renovations to the village hall required approval in order to bond $46,000, but Trustee TC Hutchins thought those funds were going to come from an escrow account rather than bonding, so the vote was postponed until Treasurer Brenda Galligan was available to answer questions.
• Thirty tons of cold patch have been ordered to take care of emergency repairs to various village streets.
• A public hearing will be held on April 20 at 7 p.m. during the regular village board meeting regarding the Restore NY grant application to revitalize downtown Broadway, which now may include a third project at the Strong Building.
• Trustee Carmen Rue’s desire to add a $2,500 stipend to a village worker’s salary caught the rest of the trustees by surprise, as it was not on the agenda.
Village Manager Zach Kelson argued that the employee in question “does the job of four people,” but Mayor Gordon Jenkins said it was simply not affordable and Rue’s motion was not seconded by any other trustee, killing it immediately.
• Sturgis Street will be getting new sidewalks via Poley Paving.
• A public Q&A on the Broadway repaving project will be hosted by the state Department of Transportation at the Ted Stroebele Recreation Center tonight from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
• Due to a request from the developers of the Strong Building, the board is considering once again allowing residential apartments on Broadway.
Currently, only commercial enterprises and artists’ lofts are permitted, though Broadway offers more than 70 living spaces on the second and third floors of downtown Monticello buildings.
During the discussion, interest in economic development and restoring a sense of community were counterbalanced by concerns over a lack of parking (especially metered) and safe spots for children to play.
Trustee Victor Marinello recalled that tenants of past apartments along Broadway tended to use rugs for curtains and hang clothes out to dry on railings.
“It seemed like people just didn’t care,” he said.
The argument eventually shifted to whether the planning board should give the village board direction on the matter, or vice-versa.
Kelson recommended getting input from the county, while ex-Village Manager John Barbarite reminded trustees of the “million different problems” residences on Broadway had caused in the past.
No decisions were made at the board meeting.
• Village Attorney Jacob Billig told the board the village can no longer put sanitation surcharges on tax bills.
State law does not permit that kind of surcharge (though it does others, like unsafe building demolitions), so he recommended that the board approve switching to a ticket-and-fine system to handle out-of-compliance trash disposal.
He’s drafting a form and law for the board’s review.
• The board will meet on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the village hall to go into an executive session to interview close to a dozen candidates for the village manager’s position, as Kelson was a temporary replacement for the fired Barbarite (and Kelson is not seeking the job).
But when a taxpayer asked if the board will require the new manager to work 40+ hours in the village hall, no direct answer was forthcoming.
• Resident Bess Davis urged the board to dissolve the village, considering its myriad difficulties.
“We’re living in garbage,” she said, also angry with continuing tensions in the village hall.