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Budget, sewer, sidewalks discussed by Village Board

MILLBROOK — The Village Board met via Zoom due to the COVID pandemic for its first regular meeting of 2021 on Wednesday, Jan. 13.  Mayor Tim Collopy, Trustees Mike Herzog, Kevin McGrane and Vickie Contino and Village Clerk Sarah Witt were there.

Dutchess County Legislator Deirdre Houston (R-25) gave a brief update on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the county, saying demand is high, supply is low and distribution is slow. The original plan was to vaccinate specific groups including those 75 and older, but the age limit was lowered to 65. 

Senior Account Clerk Karen McLaughlin reported on the  village budget and how to manage it better. Millbrook’s fiscal year started May 1, 2020 and ends April 30 of this year. Due to factors including the pandemic, she said local governments have a tough road ahead, as New York State Division of the Budget announced this past December it is projecting a decline of $14.9 billion and a decline in tax receipts of 15.3% from its February 2020 projections. 

According to her report, the New York State Employees Retirement System and its Police and Fire Retirement System will see a lower return on investment for the fund and higher contributions from municipal employers for 2021. The New York State Comptroller’s Office projects that the employer contribution will rise again in 2022. 

McLaughlin suggested the village monitor the budgets more frequently and more carefully and analyze trends, make changes and anticipate issues. Last year’s budget had some items that were over budget, such as part-time police salaries, highway paving and snow removal; the budget was $107,200 over budget in the final analysis. So far this year the village is $25,358 over budget. 

McLaughlin suggested the village do a few things to avoid going over budget, including: pay employees flex time or offer comp time instead of pay overtime in cash; review its inventory more carefully; reduce services and supplies to essential items only; analyze past years’ revenues and expenses to establish accurate budget trends; and negotiate in good faith with the town for a two-payment plan for fire protection services.

The fire department submitted its report, as did Police Sgt.  Jared Witt, who said that December 2020 had a total of 123 incidents.

Public Works Director Bob Collocola reported 2020’s first snow incident required 26 hours from his department, with 18 inches of snow accumulation; the second snow fall required six hours, with 5 inches of snow and ice accumulation. Additionally, village Christmas trees were removed along with residents’ trees. The village’s and the Millbrook Business Association’s decorations were removed and stored for the year. 

VRI Environmental Services Area Manager Scott Osborne, who is in charge of water services, reported that as on Tuesday, Jan. 12, the water upgrade was basically complete and the village’s first drinking water came through its new system, a long-awaited event. Only loose ends need to be tied up, which should be done in 30 to 60 days. 

The board is considering a sewer upgrade kickoff; it approved a motion to obtain an engineer’s report regarding needs and cost. Discussion included grants that could be obtained for the work; the water filtration system received about 60% of its funding through grants.

The board also discussed sidewalk repair, as tree roots have damaged many sidewalks, especially on Franklin Avenue, which is dangerous for those with disabilities. Grants will be sought for the project.

Witt gave updates as the treasurer and village clerk. 

The meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m. The next meeting via Zoom will be on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 6 p.m. To attend the virtual meeting, e-mail clerk@villageofmillbrookny.com.

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