Jerusalem board looks for changes

Loujane Johns

When members of the Jerusalem Town Board met on Feb. 20, they were discussing ways to improve efficiency and communications when audience member Max Parsons spoke up.  “You mean like ‘kaizens?’” he asked. Nobody seemed to have heard of the word.

Parsons then explained the word has Japanese origins.  He said the model is now being used in business and industry.  Kaizens are described as “short, intensive efforts to produce improvement in a targeted area. The literal translation is “good change.’  The result of these small changes is a better workplace and improved productivity.

The word seemed to describe what Councilman Neil Simmons was asking the board to consider. He proposed to form a sub-committee to review the building assessment, sewer and water departments.  He asked each town board member to chose a person to serve on the committee by next week. Simmons said he would like to have each committee member spend some time in the town offices to see what happens. The members would look at equipment, programs and training to see what is needed by employees. The committee would assess the need for additional help and observe inter-office communication.

Councilwoman Loretta Hopkins said $5,000 had been set aside in this year’s budget for the building department and this could shed light on how best it could be used.

Simmons said he would like the committee members to have interviews with Assessor Alan Comstock, Zoning/Planning Assessment Clerk Elaine Nesbitt and Building and Zoning Officer John Phillips. 

Councilman Ray Stewart replied that it might not be a good time, as the office is presently busy doing revaluations. Simmons quickly replied, “It might be a good time, to see if they need more help.”

The members agreed to go ahead with the plan.  Hopkins said, “Everything in the town is getting bigger and bigger.  The town is growing.”

Other business on the agenda included:

• WATER:  Town Engineer Wayne Ackart reported that the first budget for the new water district had been revised to reflect a ten percent reduction  in rates. 

He said this is a result of the newly approved consolidated  water district. He did caution that the rates will have to be revised again in July due to the expected raises in Penn Yan Municipal charges.  He said Town Attorney Philip Bailey will have a resolution next month for repairs and a reserve fund. Bailey is also checking on the rules for consolidation of water district extension.  

Ackart said there has been interest shown in extending the water district.  All members later voted to amend the budget to reflect the budget change.

• STUDY:  Ackart said a water rate study had just been completed and now he would like to see a sewer study done.  He said the last one was done in 1993.  These studies show a depreciated value and replacement values based on inventory of the infrastructures.

•PUMP STATION:  Simmons inquired about work going on at the Indian Pines Pump Station. Ackart said the building was heated with gas and since it is supplied through Penn Yan Municipal, it was thought that electric would be cheaper.  But he said there is a conversion issue, since the step-down transformer is not large enough for electric heat.  Simmons asked him to find out what the gas is costing now and what the conversion would cost before proceeding.

• SCRAP:  Simmons asked that a form be drawn up for the disposal of scrap metal by employees.

• ADULT ENTERTAINMENT:  Hopkins reported Attorneys Bailey and DiPonzio had met with the committee and agreed on the draft.  DiPonzio wrote up the final copy and it was just returned.  Hopkins said after four and a half years of work she was glad it was done.  Councilman Ray Stewart said since there were major changes, it would need to go to the Yates County Planning Board again.

• SUBDIVISIONS:  Committee member Jim Barden said the last meeting was attended by  Attorney Don Schneider, representing a client and Bailey.  He said much of the meeting was spent on four parts of the sub division draft Schneider had concerns with. Barden said at this point the committee has used almost all of the allotted consultant fee and will try to work on their own.

• WATERFRONT:  Barden said as Jerusalem representative to the Waterfront Development Project, he was passing along a copy of the proposed plans. He commented that the material was very well done.

•WIND FARMS:  Simmons told the board a public informational meeting is set for March 27 at 7 p.m. in Room 104 at Keuka College.  Two to three speakers have been invited.  At least one will be “pro” and one “against’  wind farms. He said the committee has gathered pictures and will review areas of consideration for sites.  People living in these areas will be notified by mail of the the meeting.

• NOTICES:  A resolution was passed by all members expanding the notification time to residents affected by a zoning issue advising them of a public hearing.

• PLANNING:  Simmons asked Town Clerk Sheila McMichael to send a letter to Yates County Planning Board representative Chuck Mitchell asking him to attend a town board meeting.  He said he would like Mitchell to fill the board in on the county procedures.

• RESIGNATION:  The board accepted the resignation of Lynn Simmons from the board of assessment.  Hopkins recognized him for many years of service.

•APPOINTMENT:  After reviewing what Chairman Bob Evans called five outstanding applications, Donna Gridley was appointed to the planning board for a term ending Dec. 31, 2011.

•VOUCHERS: A resolution was approved by all stating vouchers must be into the clerk’s office by 2 p.m. Thursday prior to the town board meeting or the bills will be held over to the next month.

• AGENDA:  Supervisor Daryl Jones said a board member had requested to have a copy of the agenda available a few days before the meeting.  After much discussion, the board voted to have the agendas available on Monday at 2 p.m.

• LIGHTS:  Hopkins introduced a resolution to remove certain parcels of property from the Branchport Lighting District.  The parcels were outside the taxing district.  All approved.

• ELECTRIC:  Simmons said Hopkins had been doing research on the lighting district.  She shared the information with him and they had started looking at town electric usage.  Simmons said they would like to investigate working with other county towns to bid for a district. County Legislator Taylor Fitch was in the audience and said he would meet with them to explore the topic.

• PRIVATE ROADS:  The board passed a resolution on the maintenance of private roads.  A private road is defined as a road in an open development with two or more houses. 

The people putting in these roads will be required to maintain them for emergency access. The board will provide a copy of the agreement to be filed with the property deed in the county clerk’s office. This only pertains to new private roads.