Saranac Lake’s new village council gets to work | News, Sports, Jobs
SARANAC LAKE – The new mayor and village trustees were sworn in at an organizational meeting on Monday.
Both the agenda and the auditorium at City Hall were full as new Saranac Lake Mayor Jimmy Williams, new Administrator Matt Scollin and returning Administrator Kelly Brunette, who was re-elected, took an oath. Some of their first acts included endorsing a list of Williams appointees. official positions in the village and discuss changes to village operations.
The council approved Williams’ appointments to nine positions – Administrator Tom Catillaz as Deputy Mayor, Kareen Tyler as Village Clerk, Erik Stender as Village Manager, Lidia O’Kelly as Treasurer, Patrick Murphy as Assistant Clerk and Assistant Treasurer, Allie Pelletieri as Development Board Chair, Dan Reilly as Development Board Alternate, Ray Scollin as Health Officer and Fisher, Bessette, Muldowney and McArdle as as a village lawyer.
Three of the appointments – director, treasurer and assistant treasurer – were made for a three-month interim period with conditions that the village accept applications for these jobs from May 4 to June 22 to make the process smoother. “transparent and fair”.
“Some board members felt we owed Saranac Lake this and I agreed,” said Williams.
All nominations were unanimous — with the exception of Reilly, whose nomination received a “no” vote of Catillaz.
“It was my choice” Catillaz later said.
Matt Scollin also did not vote on the nomination of his father, Ray.
“I think I have to recuse myself from this one”, Matt said.
“Good work,” said Tyler.
“If I get a ‘good job’ from Kareen, I’m off to a good start” said Scollin later.
Ray swore Scollin in as the new administrator, an experience they both called special. Matt’s son, who was at the meeting, is 7, the same age Matt was when Ray joined the board.
Another village discussion
Shapiro said that with many code changes coming to the village, his lawyer will put in many hours. He wonders if there is a cap on the fees the law firm can charge. Williams said there were none and Shapiro wondered how the village was going to budget for that. Williams said they will consider this at their next budget meeting.
The village’s former law firm, Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna, ended its engagement with the village last week in a bid to ease the administrative transition.
Williams said he wanted to change the village’s legal representation. He also said he wanted to consolidate the activities of the new company.
The village had previously chosen to delegate union bargaining and police disciplinary matters to another law firm. Since these cases are not forwarded to the village law firm, the latter does not benefit from a reduced rate. Williams said he wanted “more continuity” in the law firm representing the village in most of its legal cases.
Stender, who started working as acting village manager on Tuesday morning, said he thought he was “the right person for the job.” He said his first day was “not like other first days on the job,” filled with encounters and learning.
He was born and raised in Saranac Lake, moved to serve in the Navy, then returned in 2019. Stender, however, said he never left mentally. He said that through the sign and contracting businesses he owns, he has experience in management.
The board also approved Williams’ idea for a “Help desk” working group, which he said will be organized to give quick responses to the concerns, requests and questions of the villagers.
Williams said all the issues coming into the village are too many for him and Stender to handle on their own and he doesn’t want any of them to fall through the cracks.
Tribute to temporary workers
Before Stender was approved on Monday, Jason Smith vouched for his friend.
“Erik talks about Saranac Lake like it’s his best friend,” said Smith. “He loves buildings, stories, signs, lakes, porches, people, smugglers and scientists.”
He said Stender genuinely believes in what he does, whether it’s making bee boxes to do his bit for the environment or showing up at a friend’s house with organized boxes containing all the right tools. to repair a heater.
“He doesn’t stop working” said Smith.
Smith said Stender was also resourceful.
When he had to remove 100 gallons of heating oil from a tank he was replacing, Smith said Stender bought the oil from his customers, then turned around and gave it to people he didn’t know. he knew he would run out of oil in the winter, then gave the tank to someone. need a new one.
Katie Uhlaender, a five-time Olympic skeleton racer living in Saranac Lake, said she met Stender while working for Smith’s arboriculture business, Avalon, and was impressed with his work ethic. work. She said that, like the red hearts Gail Brill distributed around town, it represents the love people have for Saranac Lake.
Village resident Trevor Sussy spoke out in support of the nominations, in particular Murphy. He worked with Murphy on the Village Police Interface Committee. Sussy said Murphy was well connected in the village. Sussy also said he had known Stender since they were young and that the acting village manager was analytical and thorough.
Former administrator Melinda Little, who lost her mayoral bid to Williams in the March 15 election, spoke out in support of her nominations, particularly Murphy. She has worked with him before and says he has experience at a time when the board has new members and needs them.
Harrietstown Councilman Howard Riley lent his support to the new council. He said he was glad Tyler was staying on as village clerk. She’s been there since he’s been in the village government.
Harrietstown Supervisor Jordanna Mallach, speaking to new council members, said civil service work in government can be “ungrateful” corn “reward.”
Williams chose not to adopt Robert’s Rules of Order, the standard list of procedural rules that most city governments use to guide their meetings. He feels that Robert’s rules add “unnecessary confusion” for the public attending board meetings.
Shapiro wondered how the meetings would go.
“Just like that,” Williams said, adding that Robert’s rules are not recommended by the New York Conference of Mayors.
Shapiro said the village needed a system. NYCOM recommends having a set of procedures, he said — to facilitate discussion and order how motions are made and filed.
“There must be rules for a meeting” Shapiro said.
He said he wanted concrete rules so that the council’s actions were consistent and fair. Williams proposed creating a less complex set of internal rules.
“Why don’t you and I work on this?” Williams told Shapiro.
New public comment rules
Williams extended the time limits for public comments per person from three to five minutes and introduced a second time for public comments at the end of the meeting.
This second session was appreciated by Fred Balzac, resident of the village, who often speaks during village assemblies. He said he hopes the public can engage with the board.
Williams, responding to Balzac, said the new public comment rules allow it. Before, the regulations say that the board’s response must generally be given after the meeting, except in the case of purely factual information. Now the rules give council members more leeway to discuss things with someone on the spot.
Shapiro also pointed out that people can still speak with directors after meetings and that much of their contact information is public.