Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors – Work Session
Thursday, December 14, 2023
4:30 p.m. at the BWB Building, 201 West 3rd St. Jamestown, NY 14701 & via Zoom
Directors Present: Bruce Erickson, Ellen Barnes, Don Emhardt, Mike LaTone, Paul (P.J.) Wendel, Jr., Janis Bowman, Jim Andrews, JoDee Johnson, Martin Proctor
Staff in Attendance: Randall Perry – Alliance Executive Director, Taylor West – Alliance Project Manager, and Jay Young – Alliance Communications Coordinator
I. Call to Order
B. Erickson called the Board Meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:31 p.m. A quorum of 8 out of 9 Alliance Board Members were present at the start of the meeting.
II. Approval of 11/9/2023 Board Meeting Minutes
M. LaTone made a motion to accept the minutes from the 11/9/23 Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was passed unanimously.
R. Perry indicated that there were two errors in the approved 10/26/23 Board Work Session Minutes related to the meeting’s start time. R. Perry recommended making the following changes to the minutes: change meeting time at the top of the page to 3:00 p.m. and change the call to order to 3:04 p.m.
M. LaTone made a motion to amend the 10/26/23 minutes as recommended. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was passed unanimously.
III. Financial Report
R. Perry indicated that the meeting packet includes an updated financial summary report. R. Perry indicated that the latest report includes the 2024 grant award from The Lenna Foundation for the Consolidated Local Funding Program, which has been received. R. Perry indicated that the report also reflects funds passed through the Alliance from the Sheldon Foundation to Chautauqua Institution working with The Jefferson Project for the construction of tributary monitoring stations.
J. Johnson asked how the Lenna Foundation’s 2024 grant award compares to 2023.
R. Perry indicated that the 2024 award of $225,000 is around $40,000 less than the 2023 award. R. Perry indicated that the 2023 award was slightly higher than the previous year.
J. Johnson asked when the remaining Consolidated Local Funding Program awards will be announced.
R. Perry indicated that grant requests have been submitted to both the Sheldon Foundation and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. R. Perry indicated that the Sheldon Foundation award announcement is expected to come in January, and that the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation announcement is expected in February.
IV. Alliance Equipment
a.) List of Alliance-owned equipment valued at greater than $500
R. Perry indicated that the meeting packet includes a table of existing Alliance equipment originally valued at over $500.
D. Emhardt made a motion to accept the financial report as presented. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was passed unanimously.
b.) Proposed Modification to Value Threshold for Capital Asset Recording (Financial Policy Section III)
R. Perry indicated that the meeting packet includes a proposed amendment of the Alliance Financial Policy Section III. R. Perry indicated that the proposed change would be to increase the value threshold for capital asset recording from “greater than $500” to “greater than $2,500.” R. Perry indicated that at the recent Audit Committee meeting, it was recommended by auditors Saxton, Kocur and Associates that the value threshold for capital asset recording be increased in the Alliance’s Financial Policy.
J. Andrews made a motion to amend the Alliance Financial Policy as presented in the meeting packet. The motion was seconded by D. Emhardt and was passed unanimously.
V. 2023-2024 Alliance Consolidated Local Funding Program Update
R. Perry indicated that a grant award from The Lenna Foundation has been received for $225,000, and that award decisions will be forthcoming from the Sheldon Foundation and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. R. Perry indicated that he has been given a draft of the Alliance’s Chautauqua County Agency Allocation grant award for 2024.
On November 17, 2023, the Alliance Board approved the following via electronic mail vote: Accept and authorize the Alliance Executive Director to execute the grant agreement for the 2024 Consolidated Foundation Grant from The Lenna Foundation.
VI. Data Communications Update
R. Perry presented the board with an overview of existing Alliance communications pathways, including how information is shared with the public and how staff work to share data between research groups. R. Perry indicated that press releases, Chautauqua Current newspaper columns, public meetings, and the Alliance website are commonly used to engage the public with data and information on Alliance work. R. Perry indicated that there has been significant progress made in recent years in how governmental organizations make environmental data available to the public via data dashboards. R. Perry indicated that J. Young has been building an online map dashboard specific to Chautauqua Lake projects and data sets. R. Perry indicated that putting together a dashboard of this type is one way that the Alliance can pursue improved public communications and data sharing.
J. Young indicated that the existing dashboard is a working draft which functions similar to other interactive online maps. J. Young provided the Board with a demonstration of the dashboard, which includes various markers representing links to data and visual information. J. Young indicated that some of these markers are links to datasets that are already included on Alliance webpages, and that the dashboard map is one way to visually represent them in one place. J. Young indicated that data markers on the map include the three local United States Geological Survey gauges, and local weather data provided by the Chautauqua Lake Association and the National Weather Service. J. Young indicated that there are also data icons linking to Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program reports for the north and south basins, as well as fisheries information from the Department of Environmental Conservation, and annual plant surveys conducted by North Carolina State University and SUNY Oneonta. J. Young indicated that the dashboard also includes data markers for lake temperature gathered by SUNY Fredonia, as well as Chautauqua Lake Aquatic Data mapping information collected by Alliance staff such as plant biovolume and underwater imagery. J. Young indicated that this platform is a new way to display some of this information to the public, and that markers for new data sets can easily be added. J. Young indicated that there is currently a marker providing background information on The Jefferson Project, and that conversations are continuing about how data might be displayed from the lake’s tributary stations and vertical profilers. J. Young indicated that if that data is displayed online in the future for Chautauqua Lake, as it is currently for Lake George, that information could be linked and represented on this dashboard.
R. Perry provided the Board with a presentation related to how plant biovolume data, GIS-based data, and lakewide surveys can be used to evaluate patterns and help inform management decisions.
B. Erickson indicated that more analysis and summary of data would be useful for the Board.
E. Barnes indicated that the information being discussed could be used by a qualified lake manager.
M. LaTone indicated that Dr. Rob Richardson of North Carolina State University and Glenn Sullivan of Ready Scout LLC visited the area recently to discuss lake issues and have credentials E. Barnes mentioned.
J. Johnson indicated that staff did a good job gathering and presenting a large amount of data.
J. Bowman asked if there is information available related to lake sediment and sedimentation.
T. West indicated that it is possible to measure bottom hardness via the sonar surveys that staff currently conducts for plant biovolume. T. West indicated that these surveys typically work best when there is minimal plant growth.
P. Wendel indicated that he has been speaking regularly with Chautauqua Lake Association President John Ford. P. Wendel indicated that in 2024 he would like to use plant survey data and Alliance biovolume data prepared by T. West to help inform management decisions. P. Wendel indicated that he would like those discussions to potentially involve T. West, CLA Executive Director Doug Conroe, R. Richardson and G. Sullivan. P. Wendel indicated that he would like to use the type of information being presented by R. Perry and T. West to plan a management strategy for the coming year. P. Wendel indicated that he has met recently with Department of Environmental Conservation staff and has raised the issue of spreading salt on roadways during the winter. P. Wendel indicated that Chautauqua Lake is unique in that it has an interstate highway running across it, and that limiting salt runoff to the lake is very important.
D. Emhardt made a motion to authorize R. Perry to sign the Alliance’s office lease agreement with the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency for 2024, with no change to the rent amount. The motion was seconded by M. LaTone and was passed unanimously (Abstain: P. Wendel).
R. Perry indicated the Alliance has a work session scheduled for June 13, 2024. R. Perry indicated that he and T. West have been in contact with DEC Fisheries staff member Justin Brewer, and that J. Brewer has offered to meet with the board on this date.
P. Wendel indicated that DEC Fisheries need to be involved in these discussions. The Board indicated support for J. Brewer attending the 6/13/24 work session.
VIII. 2024 Alliance Operating Budget
R. Perry presented a proposed Alliance 2024 Operating Budget for Board consideration.
A discussion followed of recent changes to Chautauqua County’s Occupancy Tax and the Alliance’s operational funding.
R. Perry outlined the proposed Alliance 2024 Operating Budget. R. Perry indicated due to various economic factors the budget does not include proposed salary increases for staff. R. Perry indicated that this is not performance related.
J. Johnson asked when staff last received a salary increase. R. Perry indicated that a 2% salary increase was approved in the 2022 and 2023 Operating Budgets. The Board tabled the proposed 2024 budget.
IX. Executive Session
E. Barnes made a motion to enter executive session at 5:41 p.m. The motion was seconded by M. Proctor and was passed unanimously. Staff left the meeting. The Board adjourned Executive Session at 5:55 p.m.
The Board approved the 2024 Alliance Operating Budget as presented but with an amendment to include a 3% salary increase for all staff. The meeting was adjourned at 5:56 p.m.
The Alliance Board of Directors passed a motion to approve these 12/14/23 Meeting Minutes on 1/11/24.