Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 10:00 AM
Clerkís note Ė This meeting was held virtually.
Stephanie DeZalia, Chairperson
Joseph Giordano, Vice-Chairperson
Chairwoman DeZalia called this Personnel Meeting to order at 10:08 am with the following Supervisors virtually in attendance: Clayton Barber, Robin DeLoria, Archie Depo, Stephanie DeZalia, Shaun Gillilland (in person), Joseph Giordano, Charlie Harrington, Roy Holzer, Kenneth Hughes, Steve McNally, Jim Monty, Noel Merrihew, Jay Rand, Tom Scozzafava, Jeffrey Subra, Ike Tyler, Joe Pete Wilson and Davina Winemiller.
Department Heads present: Dan Palmer (in person), Judy Garrison, Dan Manning, Jennifer Mascarenas and Michael Mascarenas.
Also virtually present:† Sun News, Tim Rowland.
DEZALIA:† Good morning weíll call this Personnel and Administration meeting to order and weíll start off with Jen Mascarenas, is she on?
MASCARENAS:† Iím here. Good morning.† I donít have anything in addition to my monthly report unless anyone has any question for me?
DEZALIA:† Anyone have anything?
GIORDANO:† I just have a quick question.† Hi Jen.† I just wanted to check, on the website were all those resolutions that Todd and Community Resources and you and I had worked out, were they able to be approved and put on for the wastewater?
MASCARENAS:† We had to rewrite all the specs so Iím not sure if theyíre actually uploaded on the site yet but I can make sure that thatís done.
GIORDANO:† Okay were the other ones that are on there from the old language has that been removed?
MASCARENAS:† Iím not sure without looking but Iíll double check that today and make sure that the old ones are removed and the new ones get put on there.
GIORDANO: Okay, very good.† I just had some questions from some of the employees here in Ti so thank you.
DEZALIA:† Anyone else have anything for Jen? No?† Okay, thank you Jen.
MASCARENAS:† Thank you.
DEZALIA:† Next up will be Judy, Clerk of the Board.† Good morning Judy.
GARRISON:† Good morning.† I submitted my monthly report and I do have on resolution listed on the agenda to reappoint Joseph Giordano to the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board for a three-year term, beginning January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2023.
RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE REAPPOINTMENT JOSEPH GIORDANO TO THE LAKE CHAMPLAIN-LAKE GEORGE REGIONAL PLANNING BOARD FOR A THREE-YEAR TERM, BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2021 THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2023.† Scozzafava, Merrihew
DEZALIA:† Discussion anyone?† All in favor say aye, opposed Ė motion carries.† Congratulations Joe.
GIORDANO:† Thank you.
DEZALIA:† Anything else Judy?
GARRISON: Thatís all I have unless anyone has any questions for me?
DEZALIA: Okay, thank you Judy.† County Attorney, Dan is he on?
MANNING: I am here.† I just wanted to bring you up to date.† The first item on my agenda is the resolution of solicitation of applicants for the Office of Conflict Defender, Assigned Council Administrator.† We already passed those resolutions.† I just wanted to bring the board up to snuff, so to speak as to this ILS grant and what weíre going to be receiving.
In year one, we received $226,000 plus dollars, year two which is a year weíre working on now, or weíre using the money now we received $452,600 and this year, year three we are going to get $679,000 plus dollars.† These monies really, really helped you know, defray costs that the county normally would have had to undertake.† We installed a new blade server, Dan Palmer took care of that but this grant took care of half of that which is close to $70,000.† We had to lay a fiber optic cable from here to the public defenderís office which weíre renting which we would have had to have don there.† We took half the cost of that, $11,000.† The rental of the office space on Church Street I think itís called from Bill Finucane which we would of have had to pay out of our pocket you know, this is coming out of this amount is $25,000.† Thereís a ton of money for computers and training and mileage for the Public Defenderís office.† We also received another public defender which this is paying for his support staff.† Weíre going to get a Counsel at first appearance, as you know, now requires anybody for any reason that logs into court has to have an attorney at arraignment which is, in my opinion, ridiculous most of the time but itís mandated and we have three attorneys that do that and thatís costing us over $50,000 a year thatís being paid for out of this grant.
Our Conflict Defender which we will have in place soon and his assistant, their fringes are covered by this Counsel Administrator who will administrate all the red tape, which is another matter will be paid for as will all their office equipment, their mileage and things of that nature.
Another important thing that we often get nailed on is investigators.† In certain high profile cases under the 18b county law, we are required to provide an investigator should one be necessary and in the past, weíve had to pay for that and thereís money in that weíve been using to help pay for that.† Another thing is interpreters, thatís covered under here and experts thatís another thing.† If itís a high profile case and youíre an indigent defendant, not only do you get your legal fees paid for but you get your expert fees paid for as you probably all know, experts donít come and sit around very cheaply.† So those are all things that in the past that weíre covering now I just want to bring to your attention you know, weíre now going to receive $679,000 plus for year three a lot of these are re-occurring costs but I anticipate weíre going to have a couple hundred thousand dollars left over and this is the point of the game where I feel that the board or at least Dan and his department would be involved because weíre now not just paying for regular sundry costs you know, that everybody want to be encompassed in this thing but weíre going to have some extra money.† So weíre going to keep you apprised and Dan will work with us so that you know, if there might be something that needs to be done thatíll help public defender or anybody so thatís out there.† I just felt that I hadnít given anybody an update.
I have the budget.† I can send you all a copy of the budget, should you want one the current two years and of course we havenít put the year three budget in place.† You should also know that year four weíre going to get $905,000 and in year five weíre going to get $1.1 million dollars.† Some of things weíre talking about is trying the Assigned Counsel Administrator to do the administration for family court matters which is a no-no usually but theyíve kind of tacitly agreed that weíll be able to do that.†† Theyíre still working on whether it will be able to.† Theyíve always said we couldnít use any of this money for family court assigned counsel but that might be coming down the line.† We will, by establishing the Conflict Defenderís office there are about 100 cases, like 78 misdemeanors then some sundry felonies and a few appeals that were being held which were being done by assigned counsel.† This is picking up the lionís share of that, not that there wonít be conflicts that will then go to assigned counsel thereís another area.† Although I think theyíre throwing a lot of money in some places where it could very well be used for assigned counsel like family court this is pretty much a godsend for the county because these expenses are no longer being paid for out of the tax payerís dollar but indirectly but not out of the Essex County taxpayerís dollar.† So thatís all I have on that.† I just wanted to kind of give you an update.† Any questions?† Iím happy to answer.
SCOZZAFAVA: I have a question.† Dan, are they reducing that?† Iím assuming thatís state money obviously, is that being reduced?
MANNING: Yeah, they are not reducing it.† They say the Governor will not well, theyíre not reducing for this year and they havenít reduced for the other two years and they say weíre on solid ground.† This is a big statewide thing, and I think if it were to fall apart it wouldnít look politically so what I hear is weíre alright.
SCOZZAFAVA:† Okay, thank you.
DEZALIA:† Dan, is that for just five years? And after five years?
MANNING:† Thatís the $64,000 question.† As far as we know they do tell us it will continue but I wouldnít, you know, who knows?
DEZALIA:† Okay.† So are you asking for a resolution authorizing the Ė
MANNING:† No, I am not that should have said discussion.† We already passed the resolution of those.† Weíve been speaking to the Clinton County Assigned Counsel Administrator and I think thatís what weíre going to bring before the board, but to hire him as assigned counsel administrator just to get the ball rolling.† Heís been doing it for a long, long time.† Heís got everything in place.† Heís got the computer system that we have.† He knows it and we thought this would be, Brandon, myself, that that would be the better of course to get somebody that already knows what theyíre doing and then next year weíll have somebody that we hire or want or even in house and there maybe some way we can defer some expenses from, they used to tell us we couldnít do this, it was a conflict but now, I asked come on, can we use our auditorís office? And then I found out Clinton County did it so I threw them under the bus in the phone call we had last week, I didnít really throw them under the bus but they said, well, we donít like it but maybe so that would be another deferred cost that we could pay some of the auditor salary with these monies and you know, thereís a way to do that would pay, so we pay half of our salary, we might be able to do that.†
DEZALIA:† Does anyone else have any questions on this?
MONTY:† Dan, hypothetically speaking if this does go away in five years, does the salary increases go away, does the manpower that weíve hire because of this go away or weíre going to have to pick those up?
MANNING: I would say, itís the public defenderís office I mean, you certainly can qualify that if you want to like youíve done in the past, where you say, this position is only grant funded and we should lose the grant then that position is abolished.† You can also abolish positions anyway but my guess is with this new disclosure and everything thatís going on Brandon could speak to it better or maybe Dan can I know the District Attorney Ė
PALMER:† I think what youíre going to find is that a little bit of both so to speak.† Some of it youíre going to be able to eliminate and fall back others youíre not just not going to be able to meet the requirement to have an attorney at all arraignments is going to continue, thereís no way around it.† It doesnít matter whether youíve got grant funds or not, youíre going to have to provide that so I think thereís things that we would certainly look at, if they got to the point where they said they were no longer funding.† I do think the state will probably have to seriously consider continuing funding and I say that only in the sense that this was a court settlement, which said that they werenít providing enough representation for indigent defense and therefore, you know, in order to avoid a full-blown lawsuit, they did arrive at this agreement and I donít think the issue of indigent defense goes away after five years.† So I think the argument will probably continue to be that the state needs to fund these things to what level we donít know.† Weíve asked that question both Dan and I in meetings with the state.† What happens in five years?† Well, we intend to continue but thatís all the answer we get.† So we donít get a solid answer but I do think, at that point where youíre ready, where you would know that you were going to lose that funding you would have to re-evaluate those things that you could control and some of them youíre not going to be able to control.
MANNING:† Keeping with that, your assigned counsel administrator and your conflict defender will remain because youíre mandated to have those but I agree with Dan my gut tells me this is going to continue maybe not to the top level of funding we have but I think enough to cover what weíll need.† Weíre trying to find places to do Ė all the other counties are putting up bullet proof glass that have nothing to do with their money.† I think Clinton County did that. We have things so far to deal with our money but thatís why when we get this overage weíre going to have to start thinking about how to best use our money.† I donít think we need bullet proof glass but maybe.
DEZALIA:† Okay.† Anybody else have anything?† Dan, did you have something else about Local Law #2?
MANNING:† Yes, I do and this is for discussion purposes.† As you know, weíve been talking with the C-Space people about a sustainable energy loan program which the general municipal law allows us to create our own sustainable energy loan program in order to provide funds for developers and residential but weíre talking about developers in this case for projects so they go green and they can use these funds exclusively for anaerobic digesters, solar power panels, windmills whatever low electric, anything that is green.† This is, NYSERDA has a program where the C-Space people are involved and they have had local laws and agreements with about 28 counties and municipalities to do this program and Iíve been dealing with them.† Itís sort of like a lingering tooth ache dealing with these people.† The law provides that we do this so they slide the local law under our noses and an agreement that they have and say, sign it which it rubs me the wrong way you know, Iím not trying to be an obstructionist or anything but you know, donít tell me what to do but thatís their approach.† They slide the agreement and the local law under all the municipalities names and faces and they comply with it. There were some things that I felt should be changed.† I can live without them being changed but still the major is what happens if we, if someone takes advantage of the program, the program basically is this organization they find financiers for projects then they administer the project.† We donít have to do anything though.† They comply with NYSERDAís laws and they administer the whole program but the only issue I have is pursuant to the agreement with them and the local law if we are to foreclose for back taxes, then the property is to be sold at auction whatever existing debt is still on those financierís does not get extinguished but carries over to the new buyer so thatís problematic because you may find that thereís not going to be a new buyer whoís going to want to buy this piece of property and pay the debt on it unless he gets a real deal and that could happen so in that case, then we would end up with the property and that debt would still be on so we got a piece of property that weíre holding onto that we canít market, it might go to rack and ruin.† So thatís one aspect of not being able to foreclose on it.
Another aspect would be if you got a developer who wanted to play fast and loose, he could be paying the financierís their ďmortgage paymentsĒ but not pay the taxes and let it go for a long time and what is our recourse?† Well, we could foreclose on it but then we might have a problem.†
Now, practically speaking do I think this is ever going to happen?† No because no financier is going to let the borrower not pay the taxes, they are going to pay it just to keep it out of foreclosure anyway.† So it is an issue but I donít think itís a major issue.† Thatís the only issue that really boils down.
Now, we can also change our local law and we can back out of the contract with these people, with the caveat that if we back out while theyíre in a program with someone that we have to continue that program.† We donít do anything.† It doesnít cost us any money but we have to allow that builder to complete the project.† So this doesnít cost us money.† I donít like being told what to do and there is that foreclosure problem but we can get out of it and I donít think itís going to happen.† As a belt and suspenders we could ask any town that participates to sign an agreement with us that says, hey, if that should ever happen, weíll take the property, you give it to us, weíll worry about so that would take the county out of the whole equation.
Now the whole reason this came before us is this project in Lake Placid which you know, is a really, looks like a great project, it would be great for the county.† Youíre talking 34 acres, with 265 apartments, 90 condominiums, they have a clubhouse, green house, gardens, maintenance building, parking lots the whole nine yards this is up on the old Alton Jones Cell Center so you sort of have to at this point Iíve talked to everybody in that company they even had some French guy on, theyíre kind of full of crap sometimes you know, they tell me well, look at the law and Iím like, yeah look at the law it says you canít do this, this and this and they do it.† Anyway my recommendation would be to pass the local law to do this, so that the project in Lake Placid can take advantage of this, see how it rolls.† If it doesnít roll the way we want it we shelve the local law or we repeal it and the only project that we would have on board if it were in the hopper would be this Lake Placid project.† And another caveat to that is, we donít know whether the Lake Placid developer is going to take advantage of this but I think Jay Rand is confident that he will so, with that being said, I just wanted to bring you up to date on that.† I can bring the local law before ways and means and I can field any questions you have.
DEZALIA:† Tom, go ahead.
SCOZZAFAVA:† Dan, explain to me again why the county has to be involved with this program?† I mean, I have a solar farm going through in Moriah, they are going right straight through NYSERTA.
MANNING:† The enabling legislation states that any municipality can do this but because the county, you know, has the ability to foreclose on properties the program only goes, well no it doesnít only go, mostly go they want to go to the counties.
SCOZZAFAVA:† So most solar farms that Iím aware of and I donítí have a whole lot of background or Iím assuming this will be a solar farm?† Youíre certainly not putting wind towers up there.
MANNING:† Not really it could be across the board sustainable energy stuff.
SCOZZAFAVA:† Well, most that Iím aware of are leased.† They lease the property from the farmer or they lease it from whoever owns the property and they continue to pay a property tax on the owner and then thereís a PILOT agreement for the equipment.† Iím just trying to understand why the county even needs to get mixed up in this?
MANNING:† Itís because the law says that only a municipality can establish this type of sustainable energy loan program.
SCOZZAFAVA:† So, who finances the loan?† NYSERTA?
MANNING:† The loan is financed by financerís that this group has vetted and they have found.
SCOZZAFAVA:† Are there any other counties currently involved in any of this?
MANNING:† Yeah, thereís a ton.† Hold on a second I can tell you.
SCOZZAFAVA: I donít need it right now but I guess you know; I think we need to tread carefully with this.† I donít need a lot of detail.† I mean, Iím just saying that we need to go into this with eyes wide open because Iíve been dealing with it here on a couple of different levels and itís not like a lingering tooth ache itís more like a root canal.
MANNING:† My negotiations with them is just, you know itís just but the standard response I get is we want to keep everything uniform with every county in every town so we donít have to go in and do something different and I said, in my responses in the age of computers you certainly can.
SCOZZAFAVA:† So what this company is saying, whomever this company is, is it an LLC, I mean, theyíre saying well, if the county doesnít do this we donít have a project.† Is Jay on board?† Is Jay on right now?† Jay Rand?† In other words, is this project dead in the water if the county doesnít do this?
MANNING:† Yes.† If it werenít, I just wouldnít do it.
DEZALIA:† Joe Pete I think had something to add to this.†
WILSON:† So, Dan I know that is program is in effect across the state you know, a majority of counties have adopted this law have difficulties that Tom is referring to where you draw it up have those things occurred in other counties where projects have gone forward under this law?
MANNING: I havenít heard that no but you know, I havenít heard it no. I think itís rare thereíll be a problem but you know.† I can read some these counties, Albany County, Broome County, Chautauqua County, Canandaigua, Duchess County, Franklin County, Niagara County, Oneida County, Wyoming, Yates, Warren, Ulster, Sullivan, Suffolk, Rockland, Putnam and Oswego and Iíve gone onto the Attorney Generalís website where we have to file our local laws, and Iíve seen their local laws, and they all signed onto every single work they said.† They didnít contest it.† I do the city of Buffalo had a problem with some of it.† I have a call into them but I havenít gotten a return call.
DEZALIA:† Roy, did you have something to add?
HOLZER: I have a question for Dan.† Dan, for this particular project how much are we looking at that could potentially roll over to a new owner, what would be the countyís exposure financially if it did roll over to another owner, like how much money are we talking about here?
MANNING: I donít know that Roy.† That I donít know.
HOLZER:† Thatís important to know.
MANNING:† You know, I donít know how I know it unless, and hereís this we may pass this and the developer, Joseph Barile may say, Iím not doing it, I donít want to do it the terms whatever they might be if thatís the case I would just leave the law on the books until we see if somebody else is going to ever use it.† I think itís used basically, it sounds like itís used for large, large projects.† It would sound to me, if Iím a developer and I can get Ė itís a lower interest rate itís a much lower interest rate and it helped also to defer other borrowing that he might do with traditional borrowing sources.† So the way they have explained it, itís good for him but I donítí know Iíll try.† It can be as much as, I might have this wrong, I will have to check, I donít want to misquote it.† It could be up to 10% of the overall appraised value of the property where the renewable energy systems will be located or the actual cost of installing the system improvements but this is a huge project so you know, itís across the board anything that saves energy.
HOLZER:† Does the contract have a timeline?
MANNING:† The contract between us and C-Space can be terminated upon a 60-day notice however, if there is a project, like I said, in the hopper like say this project is in the hopper we can terminate the contract but they still have to be allowed to continue to do all they do.† We donít do a thing.† Actually, we do nothing here.† Thereís no monetary exposure to us and the only exposure to us is very slight and as I said, if we foreclose on a piece of property we get it with the debt on it.† Now, weíre not responsible for that debt now a new buyer would be but we arenít.
HOLZER:† To me Dan I think it would be more of a Town of North Elba issue to have a piece of property just sitting there like a white elephant.† Personally, Iím going to go with what Jay Randís recommendation is as far as my vote goes on this.
MANNING: Right and I would too you know, youíre all in this together and thereís certain times towns need a vote and Iím confident the benefits are going to outweigh any you know any problems.† We donít have any money in the game.† We have no skin in the game.† Itís kind of weird, the whole thing.† You know I asked questions like who at NYSERTA can I talk to?† Oh, they donít know anything about this.† Really?† They set your rules.† So I think this is legit.† I think itís a way for them to make money.† They get 1.5% on everything they do, that they borrow so thereís Ė itís a local development corporation.† Itís the only one in the State thatís allowed to do this right now on a NYSERTAís program.† My recommendation would be to pass it.† Weíll be able to get out of it if we need to.
DEZALIA:† Robin, did you have anything?
DELORIA:† Well, I think the only thing thatís come into my mind here is this is essentially a business transaction at the end of the day and you know, the property in and of itself would be you know, wouldnít that be lien able where a lien could be placed on it to get the money back so we wouldnít have to go down all this foreclosure business and be responsible of the debt?†† I donít know, itís just a question.
MANNING:† No, itís a good question.† The way the process works though is a builder goes to them, they find a financier, the financier gives them the money, they sign a thing called a benefit assessment lien which is a mortgage.† I told these guys why all this smoke and mirrors why donítí you just do a mortgage?† But whatever.† This benefit assessment lien is akin to a mortgage and gets filed in the County Clerkís office.† If the developer reneges on that then the financier can foreclose on that and get the property and if the developer doesnít pay his taxes the financier can foreclose on it.† So thatís all it is but we canít foreclose or get rid of any lien that exists when we foreclose for taxes.† Iíve talked until Iím blue in the face on this and they are saying no.† As I say, the benefit risk Iím probably thinking too hard on whether itís going to or could ever be a problem but if we have the ability to get out of the contract we could get bitten once but not twice and if we had a side agreement with the Town of North Elba that would cover us then no harm, no foul weíve got no money, no skin nothing in the game and itís a big project for North Elba so I mean, you know in your town Robin I would recommend we go forward.
DEZALIA:† Okay it appears that Jay is on.† Jay, are you on?† Okay.† Is there anything else Dan?
MANNING:† No, Iíll get you some more information before regular board or to ways and means.
DEZALIA:† Okay, thank you.† Is there anything else to come before this committee?† Okay, we are adjourned.† Thank you.
††††††††††† As there was no further discussion to come before this Personnel Committee it was adjourned at 10:40 a.m.
Judith Garrison, Clerk
Board of Supervisors