I recently read a letter from Councilman Peter Tripodi regarding the Town of Ossining's
consulting engineer and felt I had to respond. I speak strictly from a Planning Board point of view. I have been Planning Board Chair for 28 years. For many years, the Town of Ossining had a full time engineer on staff and then decided to go in a different direction by first hiring a consulting engineering firm and then hiring a consulting engineer on a part time basis. He, like the Town Attorney is on a retainer. His duties are to support all departments such as Planning, Building, Highway and Parks and they in turn use his expertise when it is needed. When he and the planning consultant review plans of applicants that appear before the planning board, they are paid for by those applicants. This is why an escrow is collected from each applicant in order to reimburse these consultants at no cost to the tax payer.
Planning boards are made up of people from all walks of life who volunteer their time to make their community a better place. However, they are not engineers or professional planners and therefore require this sort of expert guidance to complete their task. These consultants protect the Town and save money in the long run. Their guidance also speeds up the process and therefore gets new development on the tax roles quickly.
Peter seems to think, that by merging the Town with the Village Planning and Engineering Departments, the Town could collect that escrow and utilize that money for the Town. This is not true. As I stated before, the escrow that is collected is used for reimbursing the consultants and for no other reason. Therefore, if we have no consultants, then we have no escrow. Any escrow money that is not used by these consultants is returned to the applicant. I believe that our system in the Town works timely and efficiently from a planning stand point and again no expense to the taxpayer.
I do not know of additional money that is paid out to a consultant, but it is not something that is requested directly by Planning. These consultants do not do any projects on their own. They do things only when directed to do them. The use of their expertise to solve problems is only used to develop better conditions in our community. Most of that direction comes from the Town Board of which Peter is a member.
George A. Weeks
Planning Board Chair
Town of Ossining
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