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Oyster Bay board gets down to business

Bonds, capital projects, social services discussed

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After celebrating their inauguration on Jan. 6, members of the new Oyster Bay Town Board held their first meeting the next day. Supervisor Joseph Saladino and Councilman Steve Labriola, who are both entering their second terms, thanked the public for its support and welcomed  two new council members, Laura Maier and Vicki Walsh. The board also recognized Richard LaMarca, the new town clerk, and Jeffery Pravato, the new receiver of taxes.

“It’s wonderful to serve here for another term,” Saladino said, kicking off the board meeting. “We’ll work to continue moving Oyster Bay forward.”     

The first item before the board dealt with a series of public hearings on the town’s option to issue bonds for part of its 2020 Capital Programs budget. The spending plan is about $39 million, with a little more than half going to the town’s commitment to road improvement. Rob Darienzo, the town’s finance director, said the city could bond $100,000 to pay for improvements in the Solid Waste District, $300,000 for new lighting fixtures in the Public Lighting District, $500,000 for maintenance in the Public Parking District, and $50,000 for improvements to bathrooms, playgrounds and fencing at the Special Parks district. In terms of the Public Parking District, Richard Lenz, the commissioner of the town’s Department of Public Works, said the money would go to repave, restripe and refill pot holes at the town’s public parking lots.

“We had already gotten started on some of that work, and we’re waiting for winter to end to start up again,” Lenz said.

DPW would conduct a study of all 56 public parking lots to assess their conditions, Lenz said, to see which need to be addressed first once spring begins. He added that he was working with the town’s Parking Committee and reviewing the recommendations to see if any of its ideas could be implemented in 2020. Residents had criticized the town last year for not making use of the committee’s work.

The town also had a public hearing on its hydrant rentals for the Oyster Bay Fire Protection District. Elizabeth Faughnan, the town deputy attorney, explained that as per New York state law, in fire districts where no fire commissioners exist — such as in the hamlet of Oyster Bay, Glen Head and East Norwich — the town board serves as the board of commissioners. The town provide fire hydrants for the fire companies operating in these districts. The town needs to rent 225 hydrants from the Oyster Bay Water District, she said, at a cost of $90 per hydrant. The cost would not come from the town’s general fund, but would be paid through tax dollars from the residents who benefit from the rentals.

The board voted unanimously to close all of the public hearings and committed to voting on the issues at a later date. Should town officials approve the bonds, they would begin borrowing the funds in March.

Another item that the board considered was the renewal of the one-year contract and budget for the town’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. Colin Bell, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, said that the program helps unemployed residents gain the skills they need to re-enter the workforce. Bell explained that while the program’s budget would be $350,000, the town would receive a 65 percent reimbursement from the Nassau County Department of Social Services. The remaining 35 percent would be reimbursed based on the performance of the town’s program, as it has been in  previous years.

“We’ve always received full funding, and our program has been recognized for its excellence,” Bell said. “We even recently received recognition from the State Department of Labor based on our performance when compared to similar programs [in other towns].”

The board will meet next on Jan. 28, at 7 p.m.