A policy prohibiting the use of chewing tobacco on town of Lake George property, including government buildings and vehicles, was enacted Monday, Dec. 12 by the Lake George Town Board.
The vote was taken as the town board updated provisions in the town employee handbook.
Board members Caryl Clark and Fran Heinrich proposed the prohibition, as an expansion of the existing rule of no smoking on town property or in municipal vehicles.
The vote was not without some opposition expressed by a few board members.
“It’s not a hazard — this just represents just another right we’re taking away,” board member Vinnie Crocitto said.
Clark responded that allowing chewing tobacco was likely to boost health care premiums, and the habit presents a health risk.
Crocitto retorted, “So does eating fatty foods.”
Board member Scott Wood agreed with Crocitto.
“I don’t want people spitting on sidewalks, but are we legislating away a person’s rights?”
Heinrich said chewing tobacco could be offensive.
“It smells, and it’s a health hazard,” she said.
Town Supervisor Frank McCoy sided with Clark and Heinrich as he cast the deciding vote.
“We shouldn’t be encouraging our employees to get cancer,” he said.
Crocitto cast a “no” vote to the initiative, and Wood abstained.
Also approved for the new edition of the town employee’s handbook were the conditions under which an employee could drive a municipal vehicle from home to a job site.
They could do so if approved by the board, and only if the employee maintains a mileage log to submit monthly to the town comptroller.
A meeting is set for the afternoon of Monday, Dec. 19 to evaluate and finalize other handbook provisions. The policies are to go into effect Jan. 1.
In other business, the board:
• Heard from McCoy that the town was $613,000 ahead of its 2011 budgeted expenditures as of Nov. 30. If the town finishes off the year at the present rate of spending, there should be a surplus of about $450,000, according to McCoy’s figures. He also noted the town has $949,535 cash in the bank. “This is phenomenal,” McCoy said.
• Approved exemptions from sewer usage fees for those residents of the Caldwell Sewer District unable to connect to the sewer mains.
• Voted to purchase a pickup truck for town Highway Superintendent Dan Davis, and reassign Davis’ present truck to the Planning & Zoning Department.
• Decided to issue a letter to the municipal Board of Health, calling for the panel to mandate property owners with private septic systems to connect to the municipal sewer within a year.
• Heard that the town court had collected a sum of $308,948 so far this year in fines.
• Was informed that town Code Enforcement Officer Rob Hickey had inspected 450 residents’ sump pumps this year to assure that they weren’t pumping into the town sanitary sewers. He reported that there were 150 left to inspect. Six violations were noted, and five of the situations were rectified, he said.
• Heard several complaints from area government critic John Salvadore — one that conditions on site plan approvals granted by the town Planning Board in some instances actually represented variances, which the board was not empowered to grant. McCoy refuted his claim.
Salvatore also called for the town to conduct a revaluation of property, noting that a mansion on Cooper Island offshore from the Green Harbour development recently sold for $5.25 million in a depressed real estate market,, although it was assessed at $1.85 million. He said that inaccurate assessments like this unfairly shifted the tax burden to other property owners.