Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cough...cough...cough...

At the last town board meeting on August 10, 2016, Councilman Miscione brought up the $5,000 application fee being charged if a person wants to appear before the town board for a zoning amendment. This discussion was sparked by the solar energy requests that have been made and denied. I have already written blogs detailing how the comprehensive plan and zoning code do not match even though Town Law requires that they do.

Both Town Attorney Cully and Supervisor Tyksinski said the $5,000 fee was not a mistake and it would serve to keep the average person from coming to the board with their wish list of changes that they would like made for their property. However, they also thought that the large developer would easily be able to afford the $5,000 fee. They also said no one has complained about the fee...well, there's a damn good reason to charge such an exorbitant amount! The little taxpaying peons must be happy because they are quiet! Sheesh!

You have to listen to the video clip and hear the reasons behind the $5,000 fee...it is laughable. They make themselves look like total jackasses! They tried to blame River Street, the company that helped with the plan; then they tried to blame the five resident committee members that worked on the plan. Blame...blame...blame; that's the name of the game!

However, before you watch the video clip, I want to share with everyone the fee page from the updated zoning law that was provided to the public prior to the April 2014 informational meeting (which I also have videotaped) and also for the July 2014 Public Hearing when the new zoning code was adopted by the town board.

The same DRAFT copy remained on the town's website until at least February 14, 2015 according to the wayback machine internet archive. That is seven months after the adoption of the new zoning fees, the public was still led to believe that the zoning code was as contained in that document.

Here is the fee schedule presented to the public for their input:
DRAFT UPDATE

CHAPTER 118
ZONING
TOWN OF NEW HARTFORD, NEW YORK
March 12, 2014

(a) Request for amendment to Zoning Law, Text or Map amendment, excluding planned developments: $100.

(b) Request for amendment to Zoning Law and planned development district (over five (5) acres): $500.
Click here for a full-size pdf of the actual page downloaded from the town's website in April of 2014.

So the public was led to believe that the average person could appear before the town board to request a zoning amendment for a mere $100; NOT the $5,000 fee that now appears in the town code. You will note that at the bottom of the page it says "This document represents an internal WORKING DRAFT of the Town of New Hartford and is subject to change."

Really? One small problem boys, the change needed to take place PRIOR to the town board vote to adopt the plan...NOT after!

After Wednesday's meeting it should be quite clear who changed the fees, but why and what made them think that no one would know the truth?

Word to the town leaders...my files are extensive and probably better organized than any filing system contained within the Town of New Hartford and what I don't have, I know how to get either off the internet or through FOIL.

Now without further ado, here is the video clip of the Exalted One and his town attorney (paid for by taxpayer dollars!):





Friday, August 12, 2016

If you live in the Willowvale Fire District…

…it might be time to start asking some questions of the town board!

You are by far the highest taxed fire district in the Town of New Hartford.

I already blogged about the Worker’s Comp invoice where you were taxed $22,600 to cover a $1,720 expense (see Willowvale Fire Company gets it stuck to them...) and Supervisor Tyksinski took it upon himself to cut the Willowvale budget by $20,000.

In my experience, I have found that where there is smoke, there is usually fire (no pun intended).

So I just recently FOILed all payments made to cover the Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP), pension-like programs intended to help recruit and retain volunteer firefighters.

As you read this, keep in mind that if you live in the Willowvale Fire District, your town tax bill for 2013; 2014; 2015; and 2016 included an extra $71,000 expense each year to cover the cost of the program and you were taxed accordingly. Also keep in mind, that the Town of New Hartford is the responsible party for setting the tax rate for the program and paying the invoices.

Here is what I found when I FOILed all purchase orders, invoice, vouchers and copies of checks:
        Year..... Amount Paid by Town
  • 2013..... $ 38,053.76
  • 2014..... $ 39,868.15
  • 2015..... $ 36,221.70
  • 2016..... $ 43,115.87
Basically, from 2013 to 2016, Willowvale Fire District taxpayers have been taxed by the Town of New Hartford a total of $284,000 to cover a $157,259.48 expense for the Willowvale Service Awards. I suspect that the same would hold true if I had FOILed data starting from the year when the program was started. Any wonder why your fire tax is so high?


Now, for the rest of the kick in the teeth!


The fire fund is comprised of tax monies collected for fire contracts with the Village of New Hartford, Willowvale and New York Mills Fire Dept. and the Willowvale Service Awards all combined into one account.

Given the fact that Willowvale has been overtaxed by thousands of dollars every year since at least 2013, does anyone find it odd that the fire fund balance at the end of 2015 is only $4,564 according the 2015 audit done by D’Arcangleo & Company? Since the fire fund is a combined account, I have no idea how much money remains in each district's coffers.

What could the explanation be, I wonder?

By the way, I last wrote that the town had shaved $20,000 off the Willowvale contract giving them less tax money than they requested.

Here’s Town Law:
2015 New York Laws
TWN - Town
Article 11 - (Town) FIRE, FIRE ALARM AND FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICTS
181 - Annual budget and levy of taxes.

(c) Within three days after the adoption of the annual budget of a fire district, the fire district secretary shall prepare and deliver to the town clerk of each town in which the fire district is located two certified copies of the annual budget. Neither the town board, town supervisor, town clerk nor any other officer or employee of the town shall make any change to the annual budget of the fire district.
So I ask taxpayers, particularly taxpayers in the Willowvale Fire District…what would prompt Supervisor Tyksinski to think he had the ability to remit to any fire district only the tax money he thought he wanted to give them and to disregard the budget submitted to the town?

August/September is the start of the 2017 budget season; the next town board meeting is September 14th.

At the October 5th town board meeting; the Supervisor’s budget will be handed over to the town clerk and made available to the public the next day.

Will I see you at any of these meetings?