If Village of Brewster and Town of Southeast trustees have resolved to work together more in the New Year, they're off to a good start.
Wednesday night's Village Board meeting saw a bigger crowd than usual, with a handful of new faces — namely Southeast Supervisor Tony Hay and Councilman Bob Cullen — sprinkled in among the regular attendees. The pair spoke up throughout the meeting and chimed in as Brewster officials approved three inter-municipal agreements, which will go into effect at tonight's Town Boad meeting.
"I don't this has ever been done before," Village Mayor Jim Schoenig said as he detailed the plans, which aim to save money for the struggling Town, and increase the Village's presence in the community.
The first agreement calls for a (BPD) officer to be present at Southeast Town Court sessions, for $25 per hour. That officer will replace a deputy from the , which can cost anywhere from $50 to $70 per hour, according to town officials.
The second agreement deals with parking enforcement in the Village of Brewster. BPD will now patrol the Gold Lot at 67 Main Street, as well as the spaces behind 1 Main Street. The Town owns both. Officials say that in the past, the areas fell under "no man's land." This year, the Village and Town will split revenues the patrols bring in; in 2013, the Village will keep 75 percent, followed by 100 percent in 2014.
"The message of cooperation is worth even so much more than the financial benefits," Deputy Mayor Christine Piccini said.
Others echoed her sentiments.
"The bottom line to the whole thing is that it shows cooperation," Hay said, "and we're going to be saving money at the same time."
The last agreement allows Town of Southeast employee Joe Hernandez to keep his job as a building inspector. For the last year, Hernandez has also worked part-time for the Village of Brewster, in a similar capacity. Instead of seeing a reduction in his hours with the Town from full-time to part-time — and a loss of benefits — Hernandez will keep his position and the two municipalities will share him. He will no longer be a part-time Village employee.
The Board passed all three agreements unanimously. Leaders say they started concentrating on the collaborations immediately after Election Day, and that that the teamwork shows a changing relationship between the Village and Town.
"This battle's been going on for, I'd say, probably two decades," Hay said, adding that his interest is in sharing services, rather than consolidation. His predecessor, Michael Rights, that there were redundancies in the two governments, and that some folks were interested in dissolving the Village of Brewster.
Hay told Board members he hoped they would all be in attendance at tonight's Town meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. He wants to take a group photo as leaders from Brewster and Southeast sign the agreements.
"I won't say it's historic, but it's historic."