MOREAU — The town’s 2020 budget includes a plan to add hydrants.
The $2.8 million budget calls for $11,000 to be spent on two new hydrants, on Park Drive and the vicinity.
Water Superintendent Jesse Fish told the Town Board at a recent budget workshop that some roads don’t have a hydrant. He proposed adding more.
The Town Board wasn’t aware of the problem before that, town Supervisor Todd Kusnierz said.
“When I learned we didn’t even have hydrants where they’re needed, I thought that was a public safety issue,” he said.
Fish had also proposed replacing about a third of the hydrants that have National Standard threads. The Fire Department has request all hydrants be changed to the Storz fitting, which is used for every new hydrant added in town.
But the Fire Department can attach hoses to both types of fittings, Kusnierz noted. Earlier this year, town workers replaced the fittings of every hydrant that needed a rare adapter to attach hoses.
Kusnierz said adding more hydrants was more important than changing the fittings of existing hydrants.
Board members agreed and amended the budget to add two hydrants next year.
The budget also includes a $2,500 stipend for Kusnierz as budget officer, even though the town also has Principal Account Clerk Jeffrey Cruz on staff. Under previous administrations, the principal account clerk was the main budget officer.
But last year, Kusnierz asked for a $1,000 stipend. The Town Board voted to give him $2,500 instead, and that continues in the 2020 budget.
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Kusnierz has faced some criticism for it, but argued that he works harder than previous supervisors on the budget.
“We had a supervisor who said, ‘Just increase 2% in everything.’ I don’t do that,” he said. “We look at each line in the budget, me and Jeffrey. It is very time-consuming.”
While the nearby town of Queensbury does not offer its supervisor a budget officer stipend, Kusnierz noted that some Saratoga County towns offer it.
Charlton offers a $2,500 stipend. The town of Saratoga has a $2,299 stipend.
Other towns have full-time comptrollers or budget officers. Waterford’s budget officer is paid $47,500.
“Those are full-time positions. I think it’s a bargain to have a supervisor be the one who crafts the budget,” Kusnierz said.
Every year, the town sends a big chunk of its sales tax revenue back to the county to reduce county taxes for Moreau residents.
At its heyday, in 2013, the town sent $800,000 back. But that has slowly decreased each year. In 2018, the town sent back $500,000. This year, it was $400,000. And for next year’s taxes, the town is sending back $300,000.
“I want to do more, but we have that huge repair to the highway garage,” Supervisor Todd Kusnierz said.
The town will pay about $500,000 to replace the 8-year-old roof and have an engineer oversee the work to make sure it’s done right.
The roof was installed incorrectly when the highway garage was built, but the town didn’t file an official notice of claim within a year. The one-year performance bond expired and the town’s lawsuit against the bonding company was thrown out due to the lack of timeliness.