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Town officials spar over Code Red

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Town officials discussed the Code Red alert notification system and enabling the village’s mayor to be added as an administrator. Courtesy of Pexels

COEYMANS — The new Coeymans Town Council held its first regular meeting Jan. 11 and sparred over the Code Red system and bringing the village into the mix.

New Town Supervisor Stephen Donnelly presented a resolution that would make village Mayor Bill Misuraca an administrator on the Code Red system, enabling him to send out alerts. Code Red is an emergency alert system that notifies residents who sign up for the service of emergencies such as severe weather, road closures, major accidents and the like.

There is no cost to residents to sign up for the alerts, but the town has been paying the service fees for the past couple of years, amounting to nearly $15,000 in total, according to Deputy Town Supervisor Stephen Schmitt.

Town Councilwoman Linda Bruno raised the question of whether the village would pay a portion of the costs moving forward if the mayor were to be named an administrator on the town’s account.

“There was no discussion of that, no,” Donnelly responded. “I brought it to the village in good faith because it’s an existing system and I thought it would help the village be more informed about emergencies. And I thought that since the town was already paying for it, it would essentially act as an olive branch for the town and village getting together and perhaps work more together in the future.”

Relations between town and village governments have been strained in the past.

But Bruno said the board had to discuss the expense side of the matter.

“Excuse me, just so you know, if there’s an expense involved, you can’t just automatically offer something to the village with no discussion because it’s coming out of our town budget,” Bruno said. “We are all offering an olive branch as far as the village goes. We also have to be prudent in how we spend the money of the town and how we include the village in things. So, I don’t think that we can include them in this without further discussion.”

New Town Councilman Michael Stott initially proposed tabling the issue for the moment.

Schmitt said further discussion was needed.

“I’m not opposed to inviting the village to partake in this system,” Schmitt said. “I think it would be helpful, but I don’t know that the town should just pay for the entire thing. There should at least be a discussion. If at the end of the day we all agree that the town will pick up the tab, so be it, but we haven’t had that discussion.”

Donnelly said he thought the move would increase safety awareness for residents in both the town and village.

“My thinking was that it is already in existence and to then invite the village to share in it doesn’t increase costs at all and it just increases safety and awareness for the residents of the town and the village,” Donnelly said. “That was my thinking.”

Schmitt asked if it had been confirmed that the cost of the service would not rise.

Town Clerk Candace McHugh, who is one of several administrators for Code Red, said she had contacted the company and there would be no additional cost to add the village mayor to the list of administrators.

“Putting an additional user on it does not increase the cost of it,” McHugh confirmed. “It’s just that there is a cost for the system in general, and that is for the board to decide how to handle that.”

New Town Councilman Ronald Hotaling suggested that since there is no additional cost to add the mayor, the town should move forward as is and then perhaps reopen discussions when the contract comes up for renewal.

“Let’s get through this contract as it is, add the administrator, with no additional cost, and still provide the same services and maybe a little bit more,” Hotaling said. “I think that’s a reasonable request and again, it opens up other doors for other things down the road.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the motion to add the mayor to the list of Code Red administrators.

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