Rensselaerville town board appoints liaisons for smoother functioning

File photo

The Rensselaerville Town Board has appointed liaisons to the town’s 10 other boards and committees, including that for the Rensselaerville Library, pictured here. The idea is to improve communication between the various elements of the town while evening out the workload for board members.  

RENSSELAERVILLE — In an effort to streamline communication, the Rensselaerville Town Board has adopted a liaison system that will task each of the five board members with being the point of contact for two of the town’s 10 boards and committees. 

The idea is not to monitor those other groups, Deputy Supervisor Brian Wood told the town board at its Jan. 11 meeting, but rather to increase the board’s awareness of what’s going on in the other dimensions of government.

Better communication among the boards and committees will make it easier for questions to be answered and problems to be addressed, he said, stressing that it wouldn’t be used for “overreach.” 

Using the planning and zoning boards as an example, Wood explained that they work independently, but “they’re doing a job that is our responsibility as town board. We appoint these people. I don’t like to get into this — I hate doing it even where I work, that you work for me — but the planning board and zoning board work for the town … and so we should have some relationship with them” so that the town knows what’s going on.

The idea took root last year, when Supervisor John Dolce told the town board that he wanted there to be more communication with the planning board, since the town board had little insight beyond recommendations from the planning board.

He said again at the Jan. 11 meeting that he feels there’s a “big disconnect” between the different organs of the town.

Wood said that assigning liaisons will also take pressure off of Dolce as the main contact for the town board, while potentially making it easier for the chairpersons of the other groups to have a voice at town board meetings if they, for some reason, can’t make it.

Referring to Ed Csukas, who chairs the town’s water and sewer advisory committee and gives regular updates on the committee’s work at town board meetings, Wood said, “Let’s keep in mind — Ed’s a volunteer, right? He isn’t getting paid tons of money to do [this]. So, if you can’t make it, you’ve got to be out of town, then you reach out to John [Dolce] and say, ‘John, can you just report on this, this is what I’ve got.’” 

The liaison assignments were made as follows: Pete Sommerville for the planning board and veterans’ affairs, Brian Wood for the zoning board and public safety, John Dolce for water/sewer and library, Randall Bates for parks and recreation and buildings and grounds, and Edward VanAucken for seniors and the Kuhar trust.

 

Polling changes

In addition to establishing liaisons, the town board discussed changing the number and location of polling places in the town. 

Dolce told the board he had received the bill for the 2022 election cycle, which was $12,800 — more than the $10,000 the town had budgeted. To save money, Dolce is trying to reduce the number of polling stations in the town, which is currently three: one at each of the town’s fire districts. 

According to New York State Election Law, an election district cannot have more than 950 registered active voters, except when permission is granted by the county board of elections to have up to 2,000 voters. 

Berne, Westerlo, and Knox each have just two voting districts, each with between 1,000 and 1,400 voters enrolled within them, according to the Albany County Board of Elections. Rensselaerville has roughly 500 in each of its three voting districts, and the least total number of voters overall.

Dolce told the board that eliminating just one would be a “substantial savings,” but the county has to review any proposed changes made by the town. Wood said he would prefer to get it down to one centrally located polling place. 

Town attorney Andrew Clark told the board he would look into the regulations. 

More Hilltowns News

  • The town had discovered that health benefits for retirees were being paid without authorization, necessitating a resolution to that effect. In addition to formalizing an existing practice, it also adjusts the way benefits work for employees hired after Jan. 1, 2024. 

  • The dam was found to be leaking in 2018 due to a broken pipe, but there were problems finding a vendor so the issue was tabled by the Rensselaerville Town Board at the time. Now, the leak appears to be getting worse, says Ed Csukas, who chairs Rensselaerville’s water and sewer advisory committee. “It’s getting close to being urgent,” he said, “but hopefully not an emergency.”

  • Knox implemented a year-long moratorium last April to give itself room to get a handle on existing projects and establish a more forward-looking perspective. 

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