New Scotland fills new planner position with former consultant

NOVA SCOTIA – City Council has selected its Consultant Planner to be Nova Scotia’s first contract planner: Nan Stolzenburg.

“As part of our recent building department reviews and changes, we’ve been looking to bring in a planner,” City Councilor William Hennessy said at a special virtual city council meeting on September 22. “For a few years now, the city has had a part-time relationship with a consultant for planning purposes,” Hennessy said of Stolzenburg.

Thus, the city decided to formalize its relationship with Stolzenburg and his company, by accepting an annual contract with Community Planning & Environmental Associates not exceeding $ 60,000.

The agreement comes into effect on October 1.

Stolzenburg worked with the city on its global plan.

She was also the advisor to the villages of Altamont and Voorheesville on their overall plans as well as the cities of Bern and Rensselaerville.

City attorney Michael Naughton noted the contract was a one-year deal that, if city council wanted, would have to be renewed at its annual reorganization meeting in January. As for this year’s contract with Stolzenburg, it is prorated for the fourth quarter of 2021.

“The way the fees are set is [Stolzenburg] continues to bill on an hourly basis, according to the agreement schedule, and this is consistent with the existing master agreement that we have with his entity, ”said Naughton.

Stolzenburg itself will provide the city with approximately 18 billable hours per month at a cost of $ 110 per hour.

Veronica Soeller, an associate from Stolzenburg, appears to take on the duties of an in-house planner, her availability being 12 to 16 hours per week (eight of those hours at town hall) at a cost of $ 60 per hour.

The agreement with Community Planning & Environmental Associates lists a dozen core functions – where the phrases “coordinate”, “review” and “assist” in the planning process occur repeatedly – the planner will have, under the general supervision of home inspector Jeremy Cramer.

Naughton said of the city’s deal with Stolzenburg: “So really, in a lot of ways, it’s not that different from what we’ve had for a number of years. We are simply increasing the scope and along with the scope of the work to be done. And along with that, the extent of the funds available that it can charge against to provide these services. “

Part-time help

The retreat of the city code enforcement officer has led city council to consider who should help guide the city’s future planning and zoning.

For some time now, the board of directors has been considering bringing in the building service, “essentially [into] the 21st century, where we have more than one planner who takes care of some of the planner tasks. Because in our city, historically, with our zoning, the building inspector has done all of these things, ”Hennessy said at a board meeting in April.

The question for the board was whether to continue to allow Cramer to take care of everything planning and zoning and hire a full-time replacement for the code enforcement officer who takes his job. retire, Jeff Pine, or take the part-time Pine job and hire the first part-time professional planner.

Historically, a significant portion of the home inspector’s time has been spent managing the planning and zoning elements, Hennessy said in April, which has been a “long-standing practice in small towns.”

But, as time goes on and the city grows, he said, “we have to focus [on] … good procedures … with our projects ”, that is to say having a part-time town planner. If the city were to hire a part-time code enforcement officer rather than being locked into a full-time position, Hennessy said, it would give the city wiggle room in the budget to pay a planner.

In June, the city hired two part-time code enforcement officers to replace Pine – Lance Moore, who was Altamont’s code enforcement officer and building inspector, and Timothy Lippert, the former inspector. in Bern building and current Democratic candidate for city council. . Lippert now works as a home inspector and code enforcement officer for Rensselaerville as well.

Moore and Lippert each work two days a week for six hours a day for Nova Scotia and are paid $ 30 an hour, which equates to $ 37,440 a year for the two enforcement officers; neither receives any benefit.

Their combined 24 hours per week is more than the city had expected.

“We knew that we were going to hire until 7:30 p.m. at the most because we wanted it to remain a part-time position,” said the minutes of the June 2021 meeting. “We had a budget and that possibility Particularly hiring them both 12 hours a week at $ 30 an hour was less than what we were paying the old full-time code enforcement officer. We just felt we could get an extra 4.5 hours to help [Cramer] and he was very happy with it.

With Stolzunberg’s $ 60,000 contract and two part-time code enforcement officers totaling $ 37,440, the figure of $ 97,440 is well above Pine’s salary of approximately $ 52,000.

Supervisor Douglas LaGrange told The Enterprise the math isn’t that simple.

Over the past two or three years, the city has set aside $ 20,000 for a planner, which is included in Stolzenburg’s $ 60,000 contract, LaGrange told The Enterprise on Friday. And, said LaGrange, “if I remember correctly, we never hit a plateau of $ 20,000 with the planner.”

For 2020, there was $ 20,000 set aside – about $ 11,300 was spent, according to line items data from the State Comptroller’s Office. In 2019, the city set aside $ 23,000 and used about $ 4,300, according to the Office of the Comptroller. The budget line for a contract planner in 2021 was $ 28,256.

So the money is really Pine’s salary and full-time benefits – which LaGrange couldn’t immediately confirm – plus the $ 20,000.

“So we would like to stay within the budget of previous years, turning to part-time employees in [Pine’s] shift and bring in the planner eight hours a week, internally, ”he said. “The next three months will be a kind of trial: are we going where we want to be without investing a lot, or a lot more than before?

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