For the first time in decades, a clergyman delivered a prayer invocation prior to the start of Tuesday’s Town Board meeting. The Rev. Dr. Ledyard Baxter, pastor of Aquebogue’s Old Steeple Community Church, offered the prayer invocation right after the Pledge of Allegiance.
Supervisor Sean Walter first pitched the idea of having a prayer before Town Board meetings back in April, saying, “If you can have prayer before a [state] Assembly meeting or a Senate meeting or before Congress, why can’t you do it before the Town Board?”
Mr. Walter said the prayer could be delivered by different clergy members each meeting, keeping things non-denominational.
Board members had a brief discussion about separation of church and state when the issue was brought up in April, but no one voiced any opposition Tuesday.
Review board wants to stay
A proposal to eliminate the town’s Accessory Apartment Review Board drew opposition from its current chairman, who says he believes that board is improving neighborhoods.
The accessory apartment law was passed in 2008 with the goal of creating more affordable housing and increasing compliance with building codes. But town officials said there weren’t as many applications for accessory apartments once the law was passed. The Town Board on Tuesday held a public hearing on a proposal to eliminate the board and just have the building department review accessory apartments applications.
“I’d like the Town Board to reconsider,” said review board chairman Charles Funda. He said his board reviews every application, visits every site and talks to each applicant.
“I think we’re doing a fantastic job, and the building department has enough to do,” Mr. Funda said.
He said his board’s members have also worked to publicize the accessory apartment law by speaking to community groups.
At the start of the year, the Town Board had reduced the salary of the five review board members from $4,000 apiece to $2,400 at the start of this year.
Back to part-time
At its July 20 meeting, the board moved Dave Cullen, whose position is called legislative secretary to the supervisor, back to a part-time position.
Mr. Cullen was hired at the beginning of the year to work a 20-hour week for an annual salary of $40,000. But on April 20, after the late March flooding of several town facilities, Mr. Cullen was temporarily shifted to full-time status at the same rate. The board said that he was returned to part-time status because the projects for which he was needed have now been completed.