How the Town Government Works
Like the state and federal branches of government, the town government has three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. In the Town of Hyde Park, there are ten elected positions:
- Four Town Councilmen
- Highway Superintendent
- Receiver of Taxes
- Town Clerk
- Town Supervisor
- Two Town Justices
The town organization chart (PDF) shows the relationship among the various elected, appointed and employed members of town government. Each Councilman serves on the Town Board and represents one of the four geographic divisions of the town called "Wards". The four Town Board members, along with the Town Supervisor, conduct town business and enact town law. The town law is commonly referred to as the town "code" and includes a section for zoning. The supervisor and the board members are part time positions.
The executive branch is organized so that it can conduct town business and enforce town law. Included is a Zoning Administrator who is the primary contact for all planning and zoning applications, investigates potential zoning violations, and enforces the zoning code through various methods. It also includes a Building Inspector whose job is to make sure that all new construction is done in accordance with town, state and federal law.
There is a Town Assessor whose function is to determine the value of each piece of property in the town so that property taxes, which are based on assessment, are fairly shared.
Other departments are the Police Department, Recreation Department, and Custodian. Separately elected are the Town Highway Superintendent, Town Clerk and Receiver of Taxes. The office of the Town Clerk is not only responsible for recording activities of the Town Government but is also the central place in which are filed all of the documents and papers vital to the lives of the townspeople. The Town Clerk is the Records Access Officer for the town for Freedom Of Information requests.
The judicial branch, which is called the Town Justice Department, consists of two elected town justices and their supporting clerks. The town justices are also part time positions.
The town also has two other boards - the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board. The ZBA's function is to consider specific requests that do not comply with the town's zoning law. This is done through either an area variance or a use variance application. The ZBA also interprets the language of the town code where it is unclear. The Planning Board's function is to consider special use permits and site plan applications. Through the review process, the rights and needs of property owners are balanced against potential impacts to the community's scenic, environmental. and historic resources, as well as impacts to the community character. Additionally, the Planning Board considers and acts upon applications for subdivision of land. Both of these boards are manned by volunteers.
And finally, the town has numerous citizen committees to which the town board delegates various projects. These are:
- Audit Committee
- Board of Assessment Review
- Board of Ethics
- Conservation Advisory Council
- Recreation Commission
- Safety Committee
Freedom of Information
Copies of Town documents are subject to the Freedom of Information (PDF) law and may be requested by the public. Anyone requesting documents must file a Freedom of Information (FOIL) Request and file it with the Town Clerk's office.