Notes from the March 11, 2021, regular meeting of the Hamilton Town Council
Submitted by Clerk Sue Reymers
Though the Hamilton Town Council met via Zoom as it has since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the tone of the March monthly meeting was decidedly more optimistic than it has been for a year regarding the pandemic’s effect on the town’s budget.
The town’s fourth-quarter 2020 sales tax distribution of nearly $118,000 from Madison County was more than $8,500 (7.79 percent) greater than the comparable figure in 2019. New York state is reportedly planning to restore the 20 percent it had held back from municipalities in Consolidated Highway Improvement Program funding, and the federal government’s recently passed COVID Relief Bill includes supplemental funding for villages, towns and counties.
Town Supervisor Eve Ann Shwartz said the good news is that the town board planned around anticipated losses, and now those losses are being made up. Additionally, Bookkeeper Brynley Wilcox reported that the town has received more than $4,000 from the state as its share of road repairs following the 2019 Halloween storm.
An insurance payment of $200,000 has been approved to cover the loss of the town’s spare highway truck that was destroyed by an electrical fire more than a month ago. With a new truck on order as part of the planned rotation of highway equipment and with the end of the plowing season in sight and adequate backup available, the board is considering its options for using the insurance payment most effectively.
Highway Superintendent Luke Dowsland will distribute specifications to three engineering firms seeking bids to assess the condition of the town garage. The board is exploring the installation of new ceiling fans at the garage to improve both working conditions and heating efficiency.
The Highway Department reduces town expenses by providing maintenance and repair of SOMAC’s ambulances. Shwartz and Dowsland cited Mike Helly, in particular, for his mechanical skills and efforts.
The board approved the terms of a lease with Keith and Jody Palmer to farm a one-acre parcel adjacent to the town’s newly acquired access to Nine Mile Swamp. The lease will be posted as a public notice and subject to permissive referendum prior to final execution. Regarding development of the Nine Mile Swamp access, the town will work with the Partnership for Community Development on planning and potential grant funding to improve the area.
No one spoke at a public hearing on the application for a cable television franchise by Spectrum Cable. Noting that Spectrum is the only company that applied for the franchise, the board voted its unanimous approval.
The board also unanimously approved an emergency health plan for the town, a measure prompted by the pandemic and required by the state for all municipalities by April 1.
In her report on activities at the county, Shwartz commented on the success of COVID vaccination efforts, citing in particular the efforts of the county’s non-profit agencies in providing help for the vulnerable who are having difficulty scheduling and finding transportation to get vaccinated
“We are a tight-knit community with good coordination between agencies,” she said.
The Council’s next regular monthly meeting is 6:30 p.m. April 8. For details, visit townofhamiltonny.org/.
Editor’s note: Reported by Jim Leach for the Hamilton Town Council.