Hartford prepares to look at budget

B y Jaime Thomas

Memorial Day is a long way off, but Hartford Parade Directors Jennifer Livingston and Lori Fleming are already planning for it.

As budget season approaches for area municipalities, town officials have started to discuss upcoming expenses. One such item in Hartford is the parade budget, which currently stands at $1,000.

Town Supervisor Dana Haff asked Livingston to attend last Tuesday’s meeting and encouraged her to ask for a doubled budget.

“We were very aware of the budget going into this year’s parade. We tried to be very conservative with it, because $1,000 doesn’t get very far,” Livingston said, adding that having a bagpipe band in the parade consumed 80 percent of previous years’ budgets, so that was eliminated.

With a new budget, she said organizers would try to give gas money to area fire departments and EMS who participate, and expand what is offered.

“Doubling would definitely allow us to have more music and make it bigger and better,” Livingston said. While the board won’t vote on the matter until a later meeting, Haff said he supported the proposal because Hartford has only one parade per year.

Also making a plug for budget consideration was Highway Superintendent Greg Brown. He told the board that the town will need to look at buying a new, heavier truck for services such as plowing.

Of the two trucks he uses now, he said one is old and the newer one is too small for how the highway department is using it. The most recent truck was purchased for $18,000 a number of years ago, and Brown said both that one and the older truck have had substantial money put into them for maintenance.

“It looks like a lot of money, but when you’re eliminating down times and maintenance, it makes sense. We’re wasting taxpayer money by putting money into an old one,” Brown said. Haff, however, was not convinced and expressed that he did not want to spend money on a new truck.

John Holmes, a planning board member, said Haff should reconsider his opinion on the matter.

“We’ve had accidents in this town because of unsafe equipment, and let’s not go back there,” he said.

“But we don’t need to buy new to be safe. Greg doesn’t buy anything unsafe; I can guarantee that,” Haff responded.

Background checks for sex offenders

Following a report from the youth commission, Haff said he received a letter from New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR) about sex offenders.

Though the state does not mandate youth commission officials and coaches undergo a background check, Haff said he thinks it is a good idea to do so but still has to figure out logistics.

“Who’s going to be the cop and check? I don’t think anyone from the town should do it,” he said, adding that he doesn’t see the need for criminal background checks, only sex offenses.

He asked Mike Gray, of Washington County Alternative Sentencing, for help, and Gray said he would work with the sheriff to come up with a policy. Haff planned on bringing up the matter at a county supervisor meeting on Friday.

New manuals, contracts

During the meeting, Haff said officials are updating the town employee manual, which he described as “quite out of date.” He said the goal is to make the new manual, which is an edited-down version of the previous one, as simple as possible and welcomed input before it goes to vote next month.

The town is also preparing to sign a five-year contract with the Hartford Volunteer Fire Co., Inc. Haff said when he first came into office a new contract was agreed upon every year, until he changed it to every three years.

“I think a five-year contract gives more stability to the tax levy,” he said. If both sides approve the agreement, the department will receive a 1.3 percent increase each year for the next five years, which is the maximum year length approved by the state.

In other business, the board approved the posting of several vacancies. There is an open unexpired youth commission term, a planning board alternate and a full-term board of assessment review position. The board also approved Sandra Foley once again as the town’s sole assessor for a six-year term; she was the only person to submit for the spot.

The next town board meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.

 

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