Poland Board Approves Expanded Dog Control Law, Increased Work Permit Fines

POLAND – During their final meeting of the year, the Poland Town Board adopted new rules and fees, and looked ahead to the coming year.

The retirements of Councilman James Sopak and Town Clerk Barb Czerniak were noted, and both were thanked for their many years of service to the community.

Two public hearings were held prior to the regular board meeting. The first was to consider changes to the local dog control law. The previous law applied only to the hamlet itself. The newly proposed law would continue to enforce a leash law only in the hamlet, Lighting District No. 1, but all other sections of the law would apply to the entire town of Poland. No one voiced any objections to the new law. Board members unanimously passed it.

The second public hearing was about the proposed new town of Poland fee schedule. The Zoning and Planning boards have been working on changes to the fees for several months. The proposed schedule brings the fees into line with corresponding municipalities in the area. Some have increased and others have decreased. The biggest change is the imposition of fines for starting work without a permit. Again, no one voiced any serious objections to the proposed fee schedule. One resident thought that the penalty to professional contractors for starting without a permit was too low. Alan Gustafson, code officer, explained that the various boards felt that they did not want to make a huge change in a short period of time, so they had decided on the lower penalties. Town Board members unanimously approved the new fee schedule.

Under legal business during the regular board meeting, the members discussed a resolution to encumber leftover Poland Highway Department funds from this year’s budget so they would be available for an upcoming building project. Paul Webb, town attorney, said that the board could pass the resolution that night, even though the final balance would not be known until the end of the year. The board passed the resolution.

Also under legal, the title search and deed for the property being used for the new library building was considered. Dennis Stornes, representing the Kennedy Free Library Board, said that the library would pay for the title search, and have the deed recorded.

Following an executive session, old business was discussed. Board members heard that the Christmas party was a big success. It was very well-attended. Dennis Stornes told the board that the engineering site plans have been submitted and the library was waiting for them to be returned. Councilwoman Kathy Stanton said that she had received an email from Tim Mead, library board president, expressing that the library board was concerned about the accessibility project interfering with the operation of the library. Mead had stated that the library was not prepared to move twice. Stanton said that members of the library board were invited to sit in on meetings about the accessibility project, and that hopefully both groups would be able to work together. Stanton also said she had thought, “What’s wrong with having a very, sort of, compressed or smaller library for a few months, right? I mean, you have bestsellers, you know, whatever your big items are, you know, maybe for a couple of months.”

Everyone hopes that timing of both projects will coincide so no major disruptions are necessary. Supervisor Kelly Snow reiterated that she had talked to Mead, and that the library board members were willing to work with the town board.

Stanton reported on the Accessibility Committee. The first design meeting would have been held in December at the office of Sandberg Kessler. The architects feel that beginning the project during the winter months would enable work to be done faster and at a lesser cost to the town, since contractors would not be doing outdoor projects.

Under new business, Snow stated that the state representative had been studying the town’s books, and they hoped to have the final report before the January 2014 board meeting. Snow told the board that the representative had said that he felt it was a good audit overall. The organizational meeting was set for Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall. Annual audits by the Board were also scheduled. They will follow the organizational meeting, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Snow told board members that the health insurance plan for current workers will be the same as it was last year, due to delays in implementing the Affordable Care Act. This means that cost to the town will be lower than in the new budget. There will still be a new Medicare plan for 2014. Also, due to federal law, effective today, the probationary waiting period for health insurance cannot exceed 90 days.

Highway Superintendent Larry Mee noted that his department was ready for plowing season. The sand and salt barns had been filled. So far, alternate parking in the hamlet had been working well. The Mack truck had been taken to Buffalo for repairs. New electronic systems were needed because the truck had locked in third gear. Costs for towing and repair were included in the bills. Mee expressed concern about a possible issue with salt delivery his year. A new supplier won the state bid this year. So far things had been delivered on schedule, but a recent delivery included only one of three loads requested. Mee said he would call the supplier to find out about the delay. He stated that if there were heavy plowing for an extended period of time, the salt barns would be depleted rapidly.

George Gustafson, zoning officer, reported that Don McCord would be present at the next Planning Board meeting in January to talk about a new comprehensive plan. The board had already allocated funds toward the project.

The next regular meeting of the Town of Poland Board will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. in the town hall. Snow will be available at 5:30 p.m. to meet with residents about their concerns. Everyone is welcome to attend.