BOLD Ideas

From John Hutchings

The following are proposals that were researched and presented with the acknowledgement that they are ‘starting points’ for larger discussions about how to save the Webster Taxpayer money. It should be noted that, as Webster Town Supervisor, I’ll take a balanced approach to getting the most out of our revenue/expense model in the way of cultivating a unique ‘Webster experience’ for all of our residents. The items that contribute to a vibrant suburban community will be funded through careful budgeting that respects the long held tradition of providing a low tax rate for Webster homeowners. Note* these are 2017 numbers, subsequent budgets may have changed the numbers, but the concepts are relevant to demonstrate that there are opportunities, including the examples below, and beyond, to accomplish our objectives.


Department: Board of Appeals AND Planning Board
Item: Recording Secretary
Amount: Currently budgeted at $13,975 for each: assuming 25 meetings per year, that’s $559 PER 1 to 1 1/2 hour meeting. Generously calculating an 8 hour ‘day’ for each meeting, that’s $70/HOUR for recording notes. Proposal: I’d place a $35/hour employee to record notes for both boards. Total savings to Webster taxpayers: $13,975 annually

10/14/2017 (1 of 2):

Department: Parks and Recreation
Item: Shelter Rental Income
Amount: Currently budgeted revenues of $95,000.

The Curry Building at Webster Arboretum rents for $400 on a peak season weekend for a Webster resident. The facility boasts a well-equipped kitchen, air-conditioned comfort, a fireplace, gazebo, grill and 15 tables & chairs with a maximum occupancy of 95. For an additional $30, you can leave your garbage to be picked up. For comparison, Nolan’s Tent rental will rent you a 30 x 30 stake & pole tent with 60′ of side wall for $395, 15 tables at $8 each, 80 chairs at $1.55 each for a total of $639, with you providing the kitchen/grill and garbage removal. We are underpricing the market. Fiscal conservatives should deplore the fact that we are using government/taxpayer $ to subsidize people who are celebrating weddings and graduations AND undercutting the ability of the small businessman to compete on price in doing so.

Proposal: increase shelter rental rates by 20% effective July 1, when people traditionally line up to reserve their dates one year in advance. Additionally, I would do an analysis of any unused ‘off peak’ and ‘off season’ utilization and consider offering select lower pricing for those dates to increase usage to increase revenue there. Lastly, I’d invest $300 to boost a Facebook ad to market the facilities for the month of June ahead of the reservation date. Total savings (through increased revenue) to Webster taxpayers: AT LEAST $19,000 – $300 = $18,700 annually.

10/14/2017 (2 of 2):

Department: Parks and Recreation
Item: Mastercard/VISA charges
Amount: Currently budgeted expense of $35,000.

Assuming the entire $955,000 revenue of the Parks & Rec is paid via credit card, that translates to a 3.664% processing rate.

Proposal: Shop companies to find a 2.5% processing fee or better. Total savings to Webster taxpayers: $11,125 annually.


Department: Advanced Life Support (Northeast Quadrant ALS)
Item: ALS Service
Amount: Currently budgeted at $50,000:

From the Webster EMS website, “In a partnership with the fire and EMS services located in the town and town leaders, a plan was developed that best utilizes existing in-town EMS providers to reduce the number of calls that need to be mutual aided. The town was granted an operating certificate by the New York State Department of Health to provide an additional in-town ambulance service, called the Webster Emergency Medical Service. Webster EMS has contracted with the North East Quadrant Advanced Life Support, Inc. (NEQALS) to provide the ambulance and equipment, along with the qualified EMTs, to provide this additional ambulance service to the town. This service DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY TAX REVENUE TO OPERATE, calls for service are billed to the patient’s insurance provider. NEQALS, as the provider of this service, is the agency that will responsible for all aspects of Webster EMS’s operations and billing.”

Proposal: Eliminate payment.

Total savings to Webster taxpayers: $50,000 annually
*disclaimer: I support our public safety employees and volunteers, police, fire, EMS and all first responders. This proposal is based on the merits of what is researched and is put forth on that basis. IF there is another aspect to this that is not easily seen, I would call for more transparency in this regard and suggest that anyone with additional knowledge on the matter please elaborate in comments below.


Department: Parks & Recreation
Item: Eastside Music Festival
Amount: Not currently budgeted
Proposal: In 1990, with a grant from the Downtown Economic Development Department, the East End Festival was created. Over the 25 years of this annual event, it grew to provide the East End District with over 1 million dollars of economic impact for neighborhood merchants and supporting businesses. With the changing dynamics in the area, including an uptick in residential development (meaning the purpose of the event was fulfilled) the East End Festivals came to a close in 2014. As the organizer of the event the final 8 years, beginning in 2007, I was proud to expand the event to include MORE local merchants and involving them in the financial gains of the event as well as improving marketing to increase attendance by 50 percent.

I propose to create a live music festival at North Ponds Park each summer to feature local musical talent (and some national) and involve the area merchants in the economic windfall created. Additionally, with the town acting as promoter or landlord (similar to Party in the Park downtown) we can increase revenue for the Webster Parks & Rec Department.

*as an added note, I think this would be an excellent marketing vehicle for Uber or Lyft to promote the benefits of that service and to strongly advocate against drinking and driving.

Total savings to Webster taxpayers: through event revenues or rents, $25,000


Department: Publicity
Item: Town Newspaper
Amount: $40,000 currently budgeted
Proposal: The Town Times should become electronically distributed and legal notices that are required to be distributed in print can do so in the Webster Herald. I do not believe, and will not be writing columns that present opinion that represent only a portion of our taxpayers or promotes a partisan political agenda. I also do not believe and will not leverage my position to try to influence editorial policy or direction of this publication. It is unethical and a disservice to our constituents to exercise any level of control over a free press. Just like with my other proposals, I offer a disclaimer that if I am misinformed, I retract the proposal and the premise on which it is based. If elected, I plan on doing a Facebook LIVE video from the Supervisor’s office once weekly with comments turned on for real time question and answer sessions (with rules of engagement clearly explained ahead of time) ,

Total savings to Webster taxpayers: $18,420 annually


Department: Library
Item: Rent
Amount: $536,011 annually currently budgeted (includes bond)
Proposal: With a $415,711 annual rent figure (up 6.6% from last year) and annual payments of $120,300 for a Bond in place for leasehold improvements, our total rent for 40,000 square feet is $13.40/sq. That is TOO high. Additionally, it appears that the landlord is advertising a 4800 sq. ft ‘build to suit’ pad space for the right customer…thus reducing available parking for the library that is cramped already. I would negotiate a replacement for the current lease with a 10% reduction in the rent. Despite carrying this large rent and bond figure, the Friends of the Library had to contribute $40,000 for the install of a much needed new carpet, dwindling their reserves normally allocated for more educational items.

Total savings to Webster taxpayers: $53,611 annually


Department: Parks & Recreation
Item: Sports Leagues

Expenses –
League Coordinator – $47,144
Sports League Personnel – $17,000
Sports League Subcontractors – $65,000
Sports League & other equipment – $16,000

Revenues –
Sports Leagues – $130,000
Sports Camps – $2,000
Total Budget – $13,144 loss from program

Proposal: As evidence that Town leaders are already taking the lead from my suggestions, I brought this up a couple months ago as one of my early suggestions to save $$. In 2017, $90,000 was budgeted to pay Sports League Subcontractors. I’m proud to say that I’ve already saved Webster taxpayers $25,000 on the 2018 budget. Imagine the overall savings I could affect as your next Town Supervisor?
Here is the entirety of my proposal – Eliminate the League Coordinator position (provide lateral employment opportunity with the next opening that comes available to provide soft landing, we do have job openings as employees retire.) Where possible (youth sports probably should be run by the Town,) use a true sub-contractor model for Sports leagues, where applicable, letting an individual or organization operate the minutia of collection of fees, scheduling referees, providing insurance, etc. and rent Town facilities for use to these independent contractors, turning what is now an expense on our balance sheet to a revenue. Additionally, recruit independent contractors to provide more Sports Camps, bolstering revenue there.

Total savings to Webster taxpayers: $100,000 annually

Ready to Support John?