Sunday, December 17, 2006

Year in Review Blog

Please note that this is a rather lenghty blog. It may be difficult to read because the blog program does not enter the underlines that I inserted to identify topics.

Boy, my webmaster is going to be some mad at me! When I was first introduced to the concept of having a blogsite, I was told never to go more than 2 – 3 weeks without a new post, so I am a bit behind schedule.

Let me offer an explanation. For, oh, around fifteen years now I have been going to night school studying business. On Thursday December 14th at midnight (but who’s counting) I finished the last day of my last class. As anyone attending college knows, this time of the semester is considered “crunch time” and today I am completely exhausted and (if I pass this last course) very happy to be done. So, on to our blog.

Being the end of the year, it may be useful to review what we have done:

We have instituted, and extended, a building moratorium of residential subdivisions of five lots or less.

We have had several public hearings on laws to protect our wetlands, steep slopes, and adjust our lot-count formula (I INTEND to have these new laws passed in the next two months).

We passed a law regarding false alarms as well as several zoning ordinances regarding neighbor notification (of a pending project), shared driveways, and fences, and we are currently examining our Zoning Ordinances in an effort to improve our land use policies.

We passed a resolution providing for the proper disposal of surplus property.

We are working internally to better coordinate the reviews by our Fire Advisory Board, Architectural Review board, Conservation Advisory Council, Planning Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals.

We are actively monitoring our departmental and vendor expenses and have implemented regular budget reviews.

We have changed internal procedures to better monitor road bonds and subdivision fee collection.

We had an independent audit.

We have established a Senior and Workforce Housing Committee which has met several times (hopefully to have a draft report in a couple of months).

We are putting together an Open Space Preservation Committee. We have several names and if anyone is interested in volunteering, please contact my office.

We are actively working to address the Brettview / Presidential Way water problems (drilling a new well, reactivating an existing well) to provide Brettview water and to extend to Presidential Way.

We put out bids for our Hopewell Hamlet Wastewater project.

We will be forming the Shenandoah Water district – those bids will go out early next year.

We did not close Philips Road; it was evident from our public hearings that our constituents do not want this road closed.

We have made an application to DOT to install turning lanes at the Rt. 376 / Robinson Lane / Lake Walton Rd. intersection to help traffic flow.

And, some small, yet significant changes – changes that allow better communication with you, our public:

We have changed the layout of our meeting room to allow a more public forum.

We have improved our website in an effort to provide better communication.

We are working to establish Cablevision Channel 22 as our Municipal Channel – we will be having cameras installed to televise Town Board meetings.

On the downside:

We settled two lawsuits from the previous administration. Yet, on the positive side – we passed a resolution prohibiting harassment, sexual or otherwise, instituted a sensitivity training session and we have the first draft of an employee handbook.

Even though we have passed and extended the building moratorium, there are several large projects that are moving through the pipeline. Legally, we could not intervene in their applications while we change our laws to better address the issue of growth.

We raised taxes. No one likes to raise taxes, but for years we have been spending more than we have been taking in (see my budget blog). It is my intention to get our financial house in order and I think that we are well on our way.

In conclusion:

Boy, all this and the day-to-day operations of the Town; it has been a busy year! I could not do all this without help from my Town Board, Ethel Walker, Peter Cassidy, Bill Dahncke, and Heidi Resk. I also could not have done this without the public. We work for you and many of the initiatives that we are pursuing are a result of input from you. Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas and many of the ideas that we implement are a result of public input so, thank you.

Well, it is that time of year. I love the movie “Scrooged” with Bill Murray – I do think that someday it may be considered a classic. I wholeheartedly agree with Bill’s character in the end when he says that Christmas is a time of year when people go a little slower, treat people a little kinder. I know that that is not verbatim, but I do think it is true; this is a time of year when people treat each other a little kinder – I have seen it. So, I would like to take a moment to wish everyone reading this, whatever your belief, whatever your holiday, a very healthy and happy holiday season. Thank you.

John Hickman

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