Common Council meeting highlights for 9-19-2017

New zoning laws passed after public hearing – 

An overhaul of the city’s zoning laws was passed at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting. The council heard from three residents at a public hearing held before the meeting who brought up concerns and suggestions about reducing light pollution, solar panel regulations, appearance of fences, and home office restrictions. Although the council did not make any amendments or changes to the proposed zoning rules at the meeting before voting on it, Mayor Michael Villa and council members agreed to work with the Montgomery County Planning Board to make further revisions.

Council awards bid for sewer project –

Pollard Excavation, Inc. was awarded a $3.19 million contract for continued work on the city’s sewer system and waste water pump stations. The work is part of an ongoing effort to upgrade the city’s aging sewer lines and pump stations. The common council approved borrowing $5 million for sewer upgrade projects in February 2016 and $3.6 million in June 2017. New York State awarded the city with a $1.25 million grant and a zero-interest loan to offset sewer system project costs in August 2016. Officials are hoping for further grants from the state to help reduce the city’s debt load for the project.

Freed Maxick to continue bank and capital project reconciliations –

The council approved $7,200 in funds for accounting firm Freed Maxick to continue work on bank reconciliations for the months of January 2017 to June 2017 to help ensure the city remains on-track to file its required state financial report for 2016-2017 on time. Controller Matt Agresta said he is “fully confident” his office is capable of maintaining the city’s bank reconciliations once work to bring the city’s financial reporting up-to-date is complete.

The council also approved $26,000 to create a clearer picture of the city’s capital projects fund. Before Agresta took office in 2014, the general fund and capital project fund shared a bank account. According to Agresta, at some point before he took office, money borrowed for at least one, if not more, capital projects that were not fully completed, was used to cover general fund expenses instead of going to pay back the city’s debt.

Agresta said, “We are having [Freed Maxick] come in to give us the best estimate of what was spent inappropriately.”

City sees steep hike in bill for county administered workman’s compensation insurance –

The City of Amsterdam is looking at a $278,000 bill due in January 2018 from Montgomery County for workman’s compensation insurance, which is $78,000 over the amount allocated in the 2017-2018 budget. According to Controller Matt Agresta, the county-administered insurance plan previously jumped from approximately $160,000 two years ago to approximately $200,000 last year. Council members discussed possibilities on how to make up the difference, but did not come to any conclusions.

No-smoking zones established outside city building entrances –

Smoking will now be prohibited within 75 feet of entrances to any city government building. The council passed the resolution establishing the no-smoking zones after hearing from Tricia Terleckey and Patrice Vivirito of the Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities of Hamilton, Fulton & Montgomery Counties program. Terlecky said she had previously consulted with Mayor Michael Villa on the specific distance the zone should be set at, and said that the program would provide free signage city to help enforce the rule.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.