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February 27, 2017
Supervisor’s column February 27, 2017

The agenda for this Wednesday’s town board meeting (March 1) includes a public hearing on a resolution to extend the Moratorium on the Prohibition of Public Golf Course Redevelopment within the town for an additional one year period, through March 31, 2018. The existing moratorium, which passed unanimously in 2016, ends on March 31, 2017. New York State law requires a hearing to formalize the process of extending a moratorium. The board plans to vote on the resolution on March 15.

The town attorney and I have continued discussions with the Dolomite Corporation regarding the committee’s primary recommendation that the Town of Penfield purchase the Shadow Pines property. This is a deliberate and seemingly slow process as a government entity and a multinational corporation address the many complexities of a real estate transaction. The Town of Penfield must adhere to the laws of New York State and consult with its town attorneys and government financial consultants. The Dolomite Corporation has its own layers of decision-makers and advisors here in Penfield, at US offices in Atlanta, and at the parent company, Oldcastle, in Ireland. That’s a lot of moving parts all working toward a beneficial outcome.

The town board is committed to taking the necessary time and steps to complete our due diligence. Ultimately, at the end of this process, the town’s actions will be determined by the will of Penfield residents through public referendum. Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting in person or you can view it on government access channel 12 or digital 5.12, or log on to www.penfield.org and watch the live stream.

The Penfield Trails Committee’s next free guided hike is at Monroe County’s Webster Park on Saturday, March 11, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Please join hikers as they partner with Friends of Webster Trails to explore the wooded trails on the west side of Webster Park. This is a great place for birding and beautiful woodlands with trees as tall as 75 feet. The terrain is varied so please wear the appropriate footwear. Interested participants should meet at the campground entrance road on the south side of Lake Road, and look for the “Hike” signs. While the hike is free, participants are asked to pre-register by calling Penfield Recreation at 340-8655, option 0. Also, please note that the Penfield Trails Committee is always seeking volunteers to serve on its planning committee, as well as to do manual labor for trails maintenance. For more information, please call Penfield Recreation at (585) 340-8655.

As all the snow has melted away we have received calls, emails, and even a video from a creative resident (self-named “El Gougeo”) regarding sod damage left by the road and sidewalk plows. As I have mentioned previously, any and all lawn and sod damage will be repaired by our DPW crews starting the later part of March and continuing into early April. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Here are a few important reminders I would like to share:

The Penfield Library is a “Safe Place” community partner. Young people seeking assistance with housing, safety, or other crisis situations will be connected with outreach workers from the Center of Youth, who will assess the needs of the young person in question and access necessary services.

Do you know what to do if you smell natural gas in your home? RG&E reminds us all to get up, get out and call them immediately! RG&E customers can call 1-800-743-1702 or call 911. Also, call 811 before beginning any excavation work on your property and have all underground utilities marked. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s the law!

Until next week, enjoy the continued stretch of mild weather. I look forward to seeing you out in the community!

Tony

supervisor@penfield.org   

 


February 21, 2017
Supervisor’s column February 21, 2017

In a recent Democrat & Chronicle article on local government transparency the Town of Penfield was recognized for doing a very good job of providing government information on its website (www.penfield.org) for residents and others interested in all aspects of our local town government.

The quote reads:

"The Town of Penfield does a fairly exemplary job of putting up information for residents so they don’t need to file FOIL as frequently. There’s a side rail with links to video of town board meetings, a calendar that clearly lays out which boards are meeting when, and a link to “Online documents” that includes bid documents, draft ordinances and plans, meeting minutes and agendas – for all town boards, not just the big ones. Penfield’s website has a wealth of information available, budgets, annual financial reports, Moody’s bond rating info…Way to go, Penfield!”

This article shared information on a USA Today Network project for Sunshine Week 2017 and invited citizens to take an online survey to assess the current health of e-democracy by measuring local town or municipal websites against a checklist of features that characterizes best practice. If you would like to participate, here is a link to the survey.

I am delighted with the efforts of all our department heads and their respective teams for continually looking for ways to update and add information to make Penfield government as accessible to our residents as possible. Additionally, our website team, lead by David Renner, is responsible for keeping the site running behind the scenes to ensure content is in keeping with our high standards and that all related links are functioning properly.

Our commitment to you is to continuously look for ways to enhance your online experience at www.penfield.org. If you have any thoughts or suggestions regarding content or improvements for the website, please send an email with your ideas to prteam@penfield.org  

For more than a dozen years I have been honored to sit on the board of directors of Crime Stoppers. I joined this wonderful organization when I was at Kodak as the Fire/Security Director and continued on after I retired. This group is made up of past and current members of law enforcement, attorneys, bankers, and business people from many local companies.

Our chairman of the board, Paul Hawkins, shared 2016 data with the board at our last meeting. Crime Stoppers received a total of 886 tips (615 tips by phone and 271 online soft tips) resulting in rewards for the following outcomes/arrests:

  • 42 felony arrests
  • 6 murders and 2 pending
  • 16 violation parole/probation
  • 8 felony assault
  • 5 bank robber with 5 pending
  • 6 burglary
  • 1 handgun arrest
  • 2 arsons

Additionally, in 2016, the “fugitive flyer” that appears in the Democrat & Chronicle showcased 89 fugitives in six flyers—68 of those individuals were arrested.

For more information on Crime Stoppers please go to www.roccrimestoppers.com. To report information on a crime, please contact the confidential hotline at (585) 423-9300. The information you provide could make a difference in solving a crime. Thank you in advance of your support to Crime Stoppers.

Upcoming topics for my weekly column include an update on the start of our next Comprehensive Plan (this plan is updated approximately every ten years, it is a 12–18 month process); an overview of businesses in Penfield and our low vacancy rate; an overview and update of recreational and open space across the town; highlights from our solar PV project that will finally begin after delays from local utility companies; the new “Zombie Property Law” passed by the NYS Legislature; an update from our annual meeting with the NYS Department of Transportation; and much more.

If you have any items of interest that you would like me to comment on in this column please drop me an email at supervisor@penfield.org and I will follow up in future columns. Thank you in advance for your interest in your local government.

Until next week, enjoy the warm break in the weather and take an opportunity to visit one of our many parks and trails in Penfield. While spring is still a good month or more away, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the days are brighter each day!

Tony

supervisor@penfield.org     

 


February 14, 2017
Supervisor’s column February 14, 2017

At this time of the year when many residents come to the town hall to pay their town/county taxes in person, I get a number of questions about taxes in general, the budget process, the importance of a good credit rating, the New York State Comptroller’s report on stressed towns, and much more! Because many Penfield residents pay taxes through an escrow account as part of their mortgage, many may not be fully aware of the budget and tax process. With that in mind, I am dedicating this week’s column to the topic of fiscal responsibility the town board and I undertake on behalf of Penfield residents as we prepare and manage the town’s budget.

The annual budget process begins in early June when I call for all our department heads to prepare their draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year, January 1 to December 31. From June to September I meet with the town comptroller and every department head to review all aspects of their draft budget submissions including general operations, headcount, capital, and anticipated revenues.

Following many rounds of department head meetings, the comptroller and I prepare and present the “tentative budget” to the town board and residents. Upon presentation, the tentative budget becomes known as the “preliminary budget” and it is open for public review and comments. (In 2010, we began publishing all budget documents on our website so that residents can review the proposed budget from the comfort of their homes instead of coming to the town hall or library to review printed documents.) In early October, the town board holds a public hearing to formally receive public comments.

On the third Wednesday of October, after reviewing public comments and making any adjustments, the town board adopts the town’s “final budget” and files it with Monroe County and New York State prior to the general election. Penfield has been following this process for more than 35 years.

The town’s 2017 town tax rate is $2.69 per $1,000 of assessed property value, the same as it was in 2016. As an example, a home property in Penfield with a valuation of $180,000 will pay $ 484.20 for general governmental services (180 X 2.69 = 484.20). This same home will pay $1,510.58 for Monroe County taxes. Those in the Penfield School District pay $4,586.55 in school taxes, Webster School District taxes are $3,855.32 in this scenario. With this year’s budget, as in the past, Penfield has stayed below the state required tax cap.

Penfield’s property tax remains one of the lowest of the 19 towns in Monroe County. I have provided the 2017 tax rates of all towns for your review and information. You will see the only towns with lower tax rates than Penfield have landfills or significant commercial development.

View town tax rates as a PDF here

How is our credit rating? In April of 2016, Moody’s Investors Services upgraded Penfield’s credit rating to an Aa1, one of the highest in the county and state. This rating allows Penfield to secure low-interest financing for capital projects (sewers, roadways, bridges) and assists with general cash flow throughout the year. The Moody’s rating also reflects Penfield’s history of stable financial operations and strong management practices. Moody’s had recently reaffirmed the Aa1 credit rating in December of 2016 as part of the Parkview-White Village sanitary sewer project.

 

A further measure of fiscal health is a Fiscal Stress Monitoring System implemented in 2013 by the Office of the New York State Comptroller to identify local governments experiencing fiscal stress. This system provides an objective picture of the fiscal challenges facing local governments. Essentially, it is an assessment of a government entity’s ability to meet expenditures with revenues. Nine financial indicators are measured within five categories: Year-End Fund Balance, Operating Deficits, Cash Position, Use of Short Term Debt and Fixed Costs. The categories are given different weights to reflect the relative importance in measuring financial stress.

In the latest fiscal stress review of the Town of Penfield we received a score of 14.2%. This may seem counter-intuitive, but this low number is a positive “no designation” rating as shown in this table:

Percentage of Total Points          Classification of Fiscal Stress

0–44.9%                                            no designation

45–54.9%                                          susceptible to fiscal stress

55–64.9%                                          moderate fiscal stress

65–100%                                           significant fiscal stress

I am proud to say that since this system began, the Town of Penfield has consistently received the highest possible rating from the Office of the New York State Comptroller.

I apologize in advance for the longer than normal weekly column; however, I thought it important to help residents appreciate some of the unique hurdles we face in developing our annual budget based on the many mandated requirements placed on us by our wonderful state government! Please continue to use our website at www.penfield.org to review all details of the budget and many other aspects of your local government.

Tony

supervisor@penfield.org

 


February 10, 2017
Memorial Day Essay Contest Open for Entries!
The Town of Penfield will sponsor the annual Memorial Day Essay Contest, sponsored by a generous donation from VFW Post 820, and supported by American Legion Braman Post 1229 and Penfield Rotary. The contest is open to all students in grades 6-8 who attend a Penfield school, or are Penfield residents. New prize amounts this year include: $175 for 1st place, $125 for 2nd place, and $100 for 3rd place. Complete information and entry form is available here.

February 6, 2017
Supervisor’s column February 6, 2017

One last reminder for a new series of programs presented in a partnership of Penfield Recreation's DEAR program, the Penfield Public Library, and the Local History Room. Together, they are planning events throughout 2017 to recognize and celebrate the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in New York. Programs begin with a series entitled SuffraTeas. The first tea will be held on Wednesday, February 15 (Susan B. Anthony's birthday) at 2:00 PM in the Senior Lounge at Penfield Community Center. Pam Mount and Kathy Kanauer will discuss women getting the vote and the importance of this right. Registration is not required. More information on future events will be available when the schedule is firmed up. Please watch this column for more details or log on to www.penfieldrec.org.

The next Penfield Symphony Orchestra concert “Operatic Gems” is scheduled for Monday, February 13 at 7:30 PM in the Penfield High School auditorium. Free rides to the concert are available from Lifespan by calling 872-0774. For more information about this concert or the PSO, please go to www.penfieldsymphony.org.

February is national heart month. Last Friday our Employee Wellness Team helped kick off this year’s program. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, with one in four deaths caused by heart disease every year. Heart disease can often be prevented when we all make healthy choices and manage our health conditions. We can use this month to raise awareness about heart disease and prevention. Encourage your family to make small changes, like using spices to season food instead of salt. Make physical activity a part of your everyday routine. Watch your weight, quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke, control your cholesterol and blood pressure, and if you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. Spread the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encourage others to live heart healthy lives.

This Friday, February 10, is the last day to pay your Town/County taxes in full without interest. The tax receiver’s office will be open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM to accept payments. If those hours are not convenient you can use a payment drop box located on the east side of the town hall. The drop box is checked several times a day. The tax office will mail a receipt once your payment is processed. If you have any questions about your bill please call the tax receiver’s office at 340-8625.

Winter break week, February 20–24, is fast approaching. Penfield Recreation has put together programs including family open swim, springboard diving, a lifeguarding course with a waterfront module, gymnastics camp, and much more. Additionally, the Penfield Library is offering several programs including outrageous origami, a stuffed animal pet show, family game day, drumming with Topher Holt, and Lego lab. For more information on these programs and many more, please log on to www.penfieldrec.org and www.penfieldlibrary.org.

As the days get longer and signs of spring are in the air, many area farms start to gather sap for making syrup. This reminds me of PenRec’s “lunch plus” at the Maple Tree Inn. Come enjoy the wonders of spring and maple syrup as our vans travel to Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn on Wednesday, March 8. The good folks at the Maple Tree Inn will be serving up their buckwheat pancakes topped with fresh, pure maple syrup—and then there are those famous maple sundaes! The van departs the Penfield Community Center at 9:30 AM and returns at approximately 2:30 PM. The fee is $25.00 and includes the pancakes.

The Penfield Players’ 2017 spring melodrama, Red Velvet Cake War, will open on Friday, April 28. A family reunion in Sweetgum, Texas goes horribly awry and hilarity ensues! Things spin hilariously out of control when a neighbor’s pet devours everything edible, a one-eyed suitor shows up to declare his love, and a jaw-dropping high-stakes wager is made on who bakes the best red velvet cake. As this fast-paced romp barrels toward its uproarious climax you’ll wish your own family reunions were this much fun! Look for more information at www.penfieldplayers.org.

Until next week, enjoy the “above normal temperatures” part of this week. I hope to see you out in the community!

Tony

supervisor@penfield.org

 




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