Jerusalem gets $32,000 planning grant

Loujane Johns

The small hamlet of Branchport with under 100 houses, two churches and a library will  become a busy little place when the multi-million dollar major attraction, the Finger Lakes Cultural and History Museum is built at nearby Keuka Lake State Park.

The Town of Jerusalem applied for and has been awarded a $32,000 Community Planning Grant through  New York State Homes and Community Renewal.  The grant will help the town with plans to promote economy and provide for the flow of tourists expected.

Councilman Neil Simmons commended Jennifer Groushow, a new planning board member, for her work on the grant.

Other business a the Dec. 15 Jerusalem Town Board meeting included:

• MINUTES:  Simmons asked to have an addition made to last month’s minutes.  He wanted it clearly stated that he opposes the Yates County method of computing the town’s share for workmen’s compensation based on town assessment.  Simmons attended the Yates County Government Operations committee meeting in November to learn more about how the bill is figured.  The county administers workman’s compensation for the entire county.

•  RECOGNITiON:  Deputy Supervisor Ray Stewart called for a moment of silence for Howard DeMay and Marion Flohr.  Stewart said DeMay was a former town supervisor and Branchport Fire Chief, who had been good to work with and had contributed a lot to the town.

Flohr was the former manager of the sewer and water department and got it up and running, according to Stewart.

•  DOG LICENSES : A public hearing was held on a dog licensing local law.  There was no public comment.  Town Clerk Sheila McMichael said the state has turned the job over to the towns, but the state will still receive $1.  She said the towns have tried to keep the new laws uniform within the county.  Some towns have chosen not to have a separate purebred license, but Jerusalem has 125 purebreds  in the town.  Councilman Max Parson wanted to increase the purebred fee, but the other members voted not to raise it.

An Inter-municipal 2011 Animal Control Agreement was approved with the county.

•  TRUCK:  Members approved the purchase of a 2011 Mack dump truck with plow not to exceed $169,017 from Tenco U.S.A.through a state bid.  Simmons said the state bid was $74,000 off the base price.

• LEAVE : A resolution was approved to extend an unpaid leave to Santiago Avellaneda.

•  ENGINEER: Wayne Ackart reported he had a very productive meeting with Brent Bodine and Bill Jensen from Penn Yan Municipal Utilities.

•  PAY: A resolution was passed to raise the pay of a part-time maintenance equipment operator from $10.30 to $11. Jones voted against.

•  INSURANCE:  Councilman Mike Folts reported the employee health insurance was updated.  He said the benefits were kept close and resulted in a $53,000 savings for the town.

•  54A : Jones said a group of residents are working on getting the speed reduced in the Kinney’s Corners area.  Jones said the town can request a study, but the state has the final say.

•  ELECTION:  Simmons questioned why election costs went up from $30,000 to $78,000.  Legislative Chairman Taylor Fitch, who was in the audience, explained the costs were higher throughout the county because of new voting machines, training on the new machines and the cost of new ballots.  “We had to have a paper ballot for every voter whether they voted or not,” said Fitch.  Storage and the purchase of a trailer for voting machines were also a factor.  Fitch said now that the initial out-lay is done, the costs should go down.

Fitch said he would check into how the cost is distributed throughout the county.  He said he believes it is based on assessment and the state regulates how the cost is shared.

•  AUDIT: A yearly audit is required because the town had an USDA loan.  Simmons requested that a different examiner do the audit each year.  All agreed.

A motion was also made to have the supervisor send out R.F.P.’s for audits.  Jones voted against saying he didn’t think the supervisor should draw up the R.F.P. as stated.

•  VETERANS:  Ten Cold War Veterans in the town have applied for tax exempt status.  The board agreed to extend the applications for another month.  Information can be obtained at the Jerusalem Town Office.

•  ASSESSOR:  Councilman Max Parson reported a committee had met to discuss the assessor position.  The status of Alan Comstock’s retirement is still unclear.  Comstock is only one of 12 elected assessor’s in the state.  The committee is trying to determine if the job should be appointed or elected.  Parson said he would give a report and suggestions at the January town board meeting.

• MARCELLUS SHALE:  Jones said Town Attorney Philip Bailey has been asked to draw up a moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling.  He hopes to have it ready for the next meeting.

A Road Preservation Use and Repair Agreement was passed.  Several towns and villages in the county  followed the Yates County Legislature’s lead in making a law to protect county roads from damage from heavy equipment associated with hydrofracturing.

Jerusalem officials included addendums dealing with farm equipment and heavy equipment associated with building of the Finger Lakes Museum.

•  TIME CLOCK:  The purchase and use of a time clock by all non-elected town employees led to a lengthy discussion.

Stewart wanted the issue put aside until it is decided who is going to use the time clock. He said the rules have changed since it was first discussed. Jones added some things need to be worked out.

Simmons said, “We are the management and set the rules.  I am not backing down.”

The board voted 3-2 in favor of purchasing and using a time clock.  Jones and Stewart voted against the time clock, saying it is not fair to all employees.