The heat was cranked up at the Granville Town Board meeting Thursday night at the tail-end of highway superintendent Scott Taylor’s report to the board.
Taylor requested all seven of his employees receive a $200 allowance to purchase a quality pair of work boots to combat salt that eats away at the lining and insole of the boots when it gets inside.
“If you’re wearing a junky pair of boots, you don’t work well,” Taylor said. “I bought a brand new pair when I started in November last year, come summertime I had to throw them away because it ate the insoles right off of the boots.”
Taylor included in his request that surrounding towns like Salem and Hartford include a boot allowance for its employees.
Board member Matt Rathbun was slightly critical of the request, believing the employees make enough money and receive enough benefits through vacation and sick time to purchase the boots on their own.
“Are we giving the guys good pay where they can afford it?” Rathbun asked. “They’re asking for more benefits, I’m just showing what we give them now, that’s all I’m trying to do.”
Taylor informed the board only two of his employees are tenured (10 years or more) and qualify for those 380 hours or 60 days of maximum sick time a year. All employees only receive one day a month to claim as sick time.
Town Supervisor Matt Hicks explained and clarified the tier system to vacation days for employees.
“Fifteen vacation days after 10 years. The first year, you get zero. Second and third years, you get five. Four through nine, you get 10, 10 and beyond, you get 15, it’s a graduated scale,” Hicks said. “A full-time regular employee accrues sick leave at a rate of one workday per each calendar month of employment.”
After discussing the amount of sick and vacation time an employee receives, board member Jim Bradt told Taylor he wished Taylor would have brought the boot issue up at the budget workshop meeting in October.
“Would you send your firemen out with a crappy pair of boots?” Taylor asked Bradt.
“Never, we can’t,” Bradt said to Taylor.
“Why should my guys have to go out with a crappy pair of boots? I’m just throwing it out there, you’re questioning me, I’m questioning you,” Taylor said with a raised voice.
“This is an additional benefit, there’s no doubt about that,” Hicks chimed in.
Board member Ken Quick was curious as to why all of a sudden Taylor was making this request.
“What was your reason for doing it, just for morale purposes?” Quick said.
“Because everybody else does,” Rathbun quickly said.
Quick told Taylor that the wear and tear of salt on apparel is “part of the job,” which didn’t rub Taylor the right way.
“You’re telling me you don’t buy your farmers boots?” Taylor asked Quick.
“I buy my own,” Quick said to Taylor. “No one buys them for me, and I know I go through 20-hour work shoes about every four months.”
“There ya go, we do too,” Taylor responded. “And these guys are ruining them working for the taxpayers out there in the pit.”
Taylor then took it to another level and challenged Quick to do what his employees do on a daily basis.
“Come on out there, second snowstorm when the stuff’s that deep, you come out and dredge the road with your boots and see what happens to them within a week.”
Rathbun jumped in to tell Taylor it’s not an issue of whether those employees need the boots. It’s an issue of whether the town should buy them for the employees, or are they doing well enough for themselves to purchase them on their own, he said.
“Scott, we’re not arguing with you, yes, you need the boots,” Rathbun said. “But we’re arguing about who should buy it.”
“My guys work hard, and they deserve it,” Taylor said.
So far this year, the town of Granville has spent only about $89,000 out of the highway-outside contractual expenses fund, which has a cap of $175,020.
An additional $1,400 will be used out of that fund, as Taylor’s request was approved 3-2, with Rathbun and Quick opposed.
Starting Monday Nov. 16, Taylor informed the board he is going to switch back to five eight-hour days rather than four 10-hour days due to inclement weather that will be approaching soon.
Also at the meeting, the board approved an environmental review process that adopted the resolution to accept a $250,000 grant from the state of New York that would extend the rail trail subject to the terms of the grant program. That vote was 4-1, with Bradt being the lone voice of opposition.
The board was encouraged and informed by town attorney Mike Catalfamo it needed to consider if there would be a “significant, adverse impact upon the environment.”
Catalfamo also said it would be a three-step process to make that determination.
The first step was to have the applicant or sponsor of the project (the board) to complete an environmental assessment form.
Step two was to answer a series of questions on impact in different aspects of the environment by extending the rail trail. The third step is to make a determination off the prior two steps.
“If the answer to that question is ‘no’, you stop there. The environmental review process is over, and you then proceed to take the action, or at least vote on the action that is in front of you,” Catalfamo said.
“This is the point where I tell you and remind you, it’s your decision to make, whether there is or there isn’t a significant impact. I completed drafts of these forms based upon my analysis and my assessment looking at the facts and the data that I have to get the process started so it’s quicker than you all having to go through it a step at a time.
“But I’m not the board and I don’t have any authority to make a decision, so if you disagree with my analysis or my opinion in any one of these areas, then you should say, ‘I don’t think that’s the case, I think it’s different.’”
The only issue considered was a capped landfill that is located near the rail trail, but the board said there were no overweighting consequences because the trail doesn’t involve digging into any water.
This project has been in the works for more than two and a half years, and it’s important to remember this is a state project. However, it’s going to take time for the state to receive and approve the environmental review, so don’t expect the extension to occur right away.
The next board meeting will be Thursday Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. which will feature the fire district contract hearing open to the public.