Sunday, December 31, 2006

2007 Town Board Meeting Schedule

Just as we reported earlier this week, according to today's Observer Dispatch, the New Hartford Town Board will only have a town board meeting once a month for 2007. Of course, they can always call "special" meetings in between that you and I may know nothing about.

Not one of our elected officials had a problem with the new meeting schedule or the appearance of closing residents out of town government. The only remark was by one councilman who said "I hope that we won't have any special meetings between Thursday and Sunday".

Imagine if they voted on the bond resolutions totaling about $5 million in a "special meeting", we might not have known a thing about it unless we caught the legal notice in the paper. The vote to be held on January 16, 2007 was not the town board's choice--they chose to not seek resident input. The vote is the result of almost 600 signatures being collected because residents do want a say in the borrowing of $5 million.

Special meetings only have to be posted in Butler Hall on the bulletin board outside the Town Clerk's office--the Observer Dispatch doesn't even really need to be notified. Special Meetings can be called any day of the week and at any time of the day. They only need 3 board members in attendance to conduct business and vote on resolutions.

We will be watching and I hope that if the need arises to have a "special" meeting, the town board will see to it that the Observer Dispatch receives a timely notice so that the public can be informed and can attend if they so choose. To do anything less is just plain wrong!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bond Resolutions No. 3 & No. 4

We have just added information regarding Bond Resolution No. 3 - $45,000 for renovations to the Highway Garage and Bond Resolution No. 4 - $2 million for Stormwater Sewer Management Improvements to our website.

We are still tracking down information on these bond issues and as we gather new information, we will update the bond resolution write-ups on our website.

If you have any questions on any of the resolutions, please email us and we will try to get answers for you.

Bond Resolutions No. 2 & No. 6

I have just added information on my website for Bond Resolution No. 2 - Purchase of trucks for $173, 205 and Bond Resolution No. 6 - Purchase of Heavy Equipment for $415,800 to go along with the information I already added for Bond Resolution No. 1 - the purchase of plows for $243,174.

I decided to skip from Bond Resolution No. 2 to Bond Resolution No. 6 so that I could group the purchase of machinery for the Highway Dept. together to give a clear picture of what they want to spend.

I will be writing up Bond Resolution No. 3 - $45,000 for improvements to the Sanger Building in the next day or two.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bond Resolution No. 1

We have started listing each of the bond resolutions on our website and tried to give you some information regarding what they are and some back-up information if it is available. We started with Bond Resolution No. 1 - Snow Plows.

We will be adding more as the information becomes available and we should have some information on all of the bond resolutions online by the middle of next week.

As you may already know, information has not been forthcoming from this town board and we have had to "dig" and ask questions. We feel that you deserve to know what you are voting for or against and we will do everything we can to see that the information is made available. We have been making calls and emailing councilmen-- sometimes to no avail. If we can't find out the information, we will let you know that as well.

Re-organizational Meeting for Town Board

It was announced at tonight's Town Board Meeting that there will now be one (1) meeting per month instead of the two (2) per month there has always been. That's fine as long as we don't start to see a lot of "special board meetings" called at the last minute that no one including the Observer Dispatch knows about them.

This town board seems to be closing in the ranks. They don't want the residents involved in any way, shape or form. Fewer meetings mean fewer town board minutes for residents to reference. But, not to worry, a couple of meetings ago when Mr. Payne sort of mentioned that there would be fewer meetings so they could work them into their vacation schedules, Mr. Reed assured everyone that the town board works so well in committee that there would be no need to continue having so many town board meetings. That's nice, Mr. Reed, but I think the town board meetings are for the residents to get an idea of what is going on and to give them a platform to speak to any issue(s) they may have.

Councilman Waszkiewicz asked about the fact that there will be no absentee ballots for the upcoming Bond Resolution Vote on January 16, 2007. The Town Clerk explained that since the Town of New Hartford does not require personal registration of voters for special town elections, it is up to the town as to whether or not to have absentee ballots. Because this is a town-wide vote, it was explained that it is too much work to have to deal with absentee ballots so it was decided that they would not allow them.

If you are a registered voter and plan on voting, be sure to bring some form of a photo i.d. or you will need to fill out an affidavit ballot. This is to attest to that fact that you are who you say you are and it will be checked against the Oneida County voter registrations.

One last thing I will mention regarding this meeting. At every re-organizational meeting I have attended salaries are discussed and voted on. However, before this was done tonight an executive meeting was called to discuss personnel problems. Knowing that salaries could not be discussed in an executive session, we decided to hang around and asked to be called back in the meeting after the executive session was adjourned. It was rather odd that they would not discuss this one last item (salaries) before going into executive session. I am betting that they wanted to do something else after executive session that they didn't want anyone to know about just like they did with the Stormwater Policy. Apparently though, whatever they wanted to discuss in private they chose to not discuss with us in the room because when we were called back in they merely voted on the salaries and adjourned the meeting for the evening. Guess they will have to discuss "whatever" some other time---maybe in a "special meeting"?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Special Town Vote - Jan. 16, 2007

We now have our program for locating the polling place for your address for the special vote on January 16, 2007. This is for the Town Bonding Vote only--there will only be FIVE (5 ) polling places for this special vote so you may not necessarily vote where you normally would for a general election.

To find out where to vote, use our Where Do I Vote? program or visit the homepage of our website. There is a link on the homepage.

Over the next few days, we will be looking at each of the bond resolutions on our website and give you the information we have been able to gather on each---be sure to use our "Bookmark Our Site" button.

Organizational Town Board Meeting

Thursday, December 28, 2006 at 5:00 p.m. in Butler Hall is the last Town Board Meeting for 2006 and the organizational meeting for 2007.

Joseph Timpano, Oneida County Comptroller, is the first item on the agenda. This is also the only board meeting prior to the January 16, 2007 vote for the bond resolutions so if you have any questions, be sure to attend. It was announced at the last board meeting that the January 3, 2007 meeting is cancelled.

Also, please remember, there are no absentee ballots for the January 16, 2007 bond resolution vote!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Deja Vous

Today's editorial in the Observer Dispatch--- Boilermaker Must Focus on the People--- should be a warning not only about the Boilermaker but the way Mr. Reed needs to start including all town residents in the running of town government and not just a select few of his friends.

Mr. Reed is constantly espousing the fact that he is taking a more professional approach and town residents don't have all the information that he does. He has excluded town residents from many areas of town government where they previously contributed many volunteer hours because of their desire "to make a difference".

Morale among residents of New Hartford is low--I heard many comments when I was out collecting signatures to force a vote on the $5.5 million spending the town board unanimously approved in October. If it had been Mr. Reed's way, the bonds would have already been a fact--those bonds were scheduled to be dated December 1, 2006. Mr. Reed had no plans to ask the people for approval before putting the town in debt for the next 24 years. To date they have yet to fully explain the spending plan to the people. Arrogance abounds on this new town board! The people are suppose to just follow Mr. Reed's lead like we are lost children and he has come to save us.

Just like the Boilermaker, the success of the Town of New Hartford is dependent on its people. And if Mr. Reed or any of the other Town Board members have thoughts of getting re-elected, they need to start paying more attention to the people who count--the taxpayers and voters of New Hartford!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kudos Mr. Reed--Atta Boy!

According to today's Observer Dispatch article,
2 towns to Share Oneida County financial officer, Matt Shannon, the Supervisor of Whitestown and Earle Reed, the Supervisor of New Hartford are working toward a shared financial officer agreement. The financial officer would work out of County Comptroller Joseph Timpano's office.

The article says that the towns have yet to determine what portion of the salary each of the towns will pay, but a concerned New Hartford resident posed some questions at tonight's Town Board meeting regarding the arrangement and Mr. Reed assured the audience that New Hartford will only be paying half the cost of salary and benefits.

Who says we need a financial officer, Mr. Reed, you know your way around the financial world, by golly! Who else would be able to get a financial officer to handle the $5.5 million budget of Whitestown and the $13.3 million budget of New Hartford (with about 2.5 times more money to manage) and yet we only have to pay half the salary and benefits.

I hope you are right Mr. Reed because people sure hate to be surprised by unexpected spending particularly since many town residents I have talked to are not on board with the fact the Town of New Hartford needs a financial officer in the first place. Isn't that suppose to be your job?

And if I were Carol, the Town of New Hartford bookkeeper, I would take offense at your comment, "I'm basically working with a bookkeeper, and that gets me a little nervous". My, how did the previous administration ever manage to get along?!!

Does Whitestown have any other jobs they want to share--how about Town Supervisor?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Miss a school board meeting. Miss absolutely nothing.

According to an article in the December 14th Observer Dispatch Second Vote possible on N.Hartford Proposal, and I quote, "The school board will meet Tuesday, and while it faces a full agenda that night already, members will probably discuss the project, board member George Shaheen said Tuesday night."

Apparently a number of people thought that there was some truth to the OD article, because there was basically a full house in the Robert L. Bradley Library. Unfortunately, the board convened at 7:01 p.m. and excused the public at 7:30 p.m. so they could go into executive session for contract negotiations. Looks like the school board must have attended the same Government 101 course that the town board attended. The town board is infamous for holding 30 minute board meetings that equate to 20 or more pages of minutes two months later.

If the school board meeting tonight was a full agenda, I can understand why not many people show up at most board meetings--why bother. I have heard that from many people--it is the same sentiment that people have about the Town Board meetings. And both boards wonder why the word "secretive" is used so often. They just don't get it.

I would guess the "full agenda" was in reference to the executive session. The only discussion on the School bond vote was by Coach Dan Pope who spent about 5 minutes giving a rah! rah! rah! speech to the school board. He feels the board should not give up, but should have the vote again. He thinks that this time more people who are for the project would vote. Well, even though Mr. Gilligan had the PTA, teachers, etc. calling to ask people to get out and vote they did not get enough votes to pass the bond issue. That should tell the school board something. It was also one of the largest voter turn-outs that the school can recall. Do you think maybe the fact that taxpayers don't want to support the extravagant performing arts center and the purchase of land might have something to do with it?

I don't suppose that anything will be made public regarding the school board plans prior to the town bonding vote on January 16, 2007, just as the town didn't make anything public prior to the school bonding vote. For that matter, the town still hasn't made anything public.

Monday, December 18, 2006

No Absentee Ballots Available for Town Bond Vote

We spoke to the Town Clerk today to find out if absentee ballots will be available as they are for Primaries & General Elections where you may still vote if you are out of town, disabled or serving in the military. The Town of New Hartford will not have absentee ballots available for the January 16, 2007 Bond Referendum that will decide whether or not to allow the bonding of $4.6+ million.

If you are a registered voter and wish to vote for or against this spending and you have a transportation issue, please try to make arrangements to ride with a friend, neighbor or family member. If you are out of town or in the military, unfortunately, you will not be able to vote.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Consolidation and Proposition No. 5

According to the dictionary, Consolidation is the act of merging many things into one. When the town board talks about consolidation how come it means adding another building to the list of buildings where town government is located? See the slide below presented at the November 1, 2006 budget hearing; they justify the purchase of the building because they say it “accommodates the relocation & consolidation of resident service sites”.

Correct me if I am wrong, but if the town buys 1 Oxford Crossing doesn’t that mean we own one more building not one less? Doesn’t that mean we have to maintain one more building, heat one more building, light one more building, etc.? And how many additional employees will we need to add to the payroll to maintain the one more building?

And let’s look again at the slide below presented at the November 1, 2006 budget hearing. The building was supposed to house codes, planning, engineering and the police department:


Now let’s look at the proposition up for a vote on January 16, 2007, the one they are no going to ask you to vote on. According Proposition NO. 5 (see below) you will be voting on the “acquisition of building located at 1 Oxford Crossing and renovation thereof for use as a new court facility”.


So does that mean that they didn’t really have a plan when they unanimously passed the $1.5 million bond resolution on October 4, 2006? Didn’t they have architectural drawings so they knew what would fit in the building? Are we just voting on the purchase of the building and they will decide what to do with it later. Boy that sounds vaguely familiar—sort of like the school board and their lack of plans for Tibbitts Road (or at least their lack of telling us (the taxpayers) what their plans are).

So does the town have a plan yet or is it a matter of “just give us the money--we will buy the building and we will find a way to use it—trust us--your money won’t go to waste!” And at last count they only had a letter of intent which is non-binding. Do they have a signed purchase agreement yet?

And not for nothing, but does anyone know if it will cost more to renovate that building for the courts than it does for just plain old office space or is the “jury out on that one”? How did they come up with the $500,000 for renovations if they didn’t know what they were renovating the space for?

And let's not forget that by the town buying that one more building, it is taking almost $600,000 off the tax rolls. Just what we need--more tax exempt property in the Town of New Hartford!

Oh well, they say they are going to have another PowerPoint presentation before the vote so maybe they will answer the questions at that presentation—that is, if they figure out exactly what they plan to do with the building by then!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

New Hartford Bond Resolutions Vote

As you know, back at the end of October and beginning of November almost 600 signatures were collected to force the $4.6+ million bonding resolutions to a vote.

The voting date for the Town of New Hartford bonding resolutions is set for Tuesday, January 16, 2007 from 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. We do hope that you will mark your calendars and plan to cast your vote.

There are only five (5) polling places for this special vote so you will not necessarily vote at your regular polling place. We are in the process of updating our "Where Do I Vote?" program and we will let everyone know when it is available--probably at the beginning of the week. This program allows you to enter your street and find out the polling place for your Ward and District. Stay tuned to this blog and our website for further information.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Town Planning Board Vacancy

Any resident interested in filling a vacancy that will exist on the Town of New Hartford Planning Board as of January 1, 2007, should submit a letter of interest and resume to the Town Supervisor's office on or before Monday, December 18, 2006.

We have posted a description of the duties of the Planning Board and the address for the Town Supervisor on our website. You will find a link to the information on the top right hand corner of our homepage at New Hartford, N.Y. Online.

Wants and Needs

Dear School Board Members,

There is a difference between "wants" and "needs". The school auditiorium needs some repair and the seats need to be replaced with larger ones, but a $16 million Community Performing Arts Center? We don't need to spend that kind of money--we don't need a community performing art center to rival the Stanley--we just need an updated auditorium. Granted there are some people who want an elaborate community performing arts center--but we don't need it.

The cry is "it's for the children". Well, let's look at it this way--the current project calls for $7.5 million to build 8 classrooms and $15.7 million to build a community performing arts center. Perhaps a little out of balance? Are we really looking out for the education of our children or the wants of a few. The project costs for the Stanley World Stage (click for the project details) is only $16.9 million and that includes an endowment fund and $1.2 million for a continguency fund. What in the world do the plans for the New Hartford Community Performing Arts Center include?

As far as the land on Tibbitts Road, 87 acres for a bus garage/repair facility does sound a little excessive--more like a want rather than a need. And asking people to vote to purchase land and yet give us no details as to what is planned or how much any future development will cost taxpayers--how do taxpayers assess the need when the school board and town board haven't outlined what they want to do with this property?

And given the fact that Mr. Gilligan made sure to target all the focus groups to gain support for the project--the Little League, the Pop Warner Football, AYSO (soccer), New Hartford Marching Band parents, the New Hartford Central School Music and Sports Boosters to name a few--and yet the project was still turned down by the voters should tell the school something. The "average" taxpayer in New Hartford DOES NOT want to see any more increases in their taxes than is absolutely needed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I hear "clamoring" but it isn't the kind that the town and school board think they hear. People are tired of the high taxes in New Hartford. To ask voters to approve a $26.2 million project when part of it is for a $16 million Community Performing Arts Center and part is for 87 acres of land that they don't have a plan for (or should I say, a plan they are willing to share with the voters yet) is ludicrous. In fact, I have heard rumors that the plan for the 87 acres is quite different than what they have shared with taxpayers thus far.

The town board better take notes because they have their bond resolution votes on January 16, 2007. They, like the school, seem to have many items they want to bond for and as of yet they have not given voters the facts.

Further, to ask residents of New Hartford to support additional spending when in fact not everyone is being assessed fairly is wrong. Yet the town board is asking voters to support $5 million in bonding including such things as sidewalks when they have no thoughts of correcting the assessment problems. This is arrogant considering the fact that the Town Supervisor's property is one of those "problems".

Yeah, I know they are forming a committee to look at the assessment issues, but that was decided at the November 15th board meeting. It is now 1 month later and no meeting has taken place or been scheduled. Realistically, if a meeting took place tomorrow, the chances of this town board reacting to anything that a citizens committee comes up with is slim and none. I suspect they will drag their heels until after January 16th, just like they dragged their heels regarding giving information for their bonding until after the vote on the school project.

Regarding the school bonding, Strikeslip over at Fault Lines sums it all up very nicely.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

To Be or Not to Be

The $26.2 million New Hartford Central bond vote for their Triple A+ project is today, December 12, 2006, from 7:00 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the high school gym. Make sure to get out and vote no matter what your opinion.

I have only a couple of comments. Mr. Gilligan says they might put the bond back on the table if it is defeated this time, but it might cost another $2 -3 million due to inflation and the loss of the EXCEL monies. This sounds like "scare tactics" to me. First, I doubt that inflation will make that much of a difference unless they don't plan to present the bond issue for another 5 years. Secondly, as far as I can figure out there is no deadline to apply for EXCEL grants, although the earlier the districts apply, the better chance they have of the money still being available. I doubt that they would lose the money if they were unable to present the bond issue again until next year. And in the scheme of things what is $850,000 when you are talking millions. To learn more about the EXCEL program, please visit EXCEL Program .

If inflation is such a big factor, perhaps the school board can trim the budget for the Community Performing Arts Center. Almost $16 million is a lot of money. Truly the auditorium does need updating, but let's get real. And if you think the $26.2 million hasn't been padded already, I would seriously doubt it. In fact at the Public Hearing on December 5th, someone asked what will happen if the project is completed for less money than the voter-approved spending of $26.2 million. Mr. Gilligan said that would be up to the school board to decide. They could decide to spend the extra money if they found a worthwhile project--it is all up to them. So don't be fooled into thinking they haven't prepared for just such a scenario! The plans that have been presented thus far are only preliminary. Mr. Gilligan told me that to have an architect draw up final plans would not be cost effective particularly if the project gets turned down so you can bet they have built themselves a "cushion".

More of their "scare tactics" is the one about the 120 homes being built by a developer. Do the math. By the time they get roads, green space, easements, etc., I highly doubt that 120 homes will fit on that parcel--not even if all 87 acres is "buildable"--which is doubtful. And look at Longworth, the land that Mr. Virkler is developing near the corner of Tibbitts and Oxford. He has only sold two lots to one person so far, so I guess people aren't "clamoring" to build in New Hartford. You also have to consider if a developer were to build homes, it would add to the assessed value of New Hartford--the school project is exempt from property taxes. And I absolutely loved the argument used by a former member of the school board member. He said we should be happy it is the school that is developing the land--look at Ava--we could have a landfill. I am not even going to comment on that ridiculous remark!

My last comment is on the part of the project that bothers me the most---the "open-ended" purchase of the land on Tibbitts Road. Taxpayers have absolutely no idea of what the costs will be down the road and more than likely if the school builds on this land, they will once again "bundle" the costs with other projects. That seems to be the way schools operate--the same as they do when school budgets are turned down. And if the town develops that land, you may not even get a chance to have a say. Remember what they tried to get away with a couple of months ago. They obviously didn't want the Citizens Budget committee involved in the budgeting process because they thought they could pull a fast one and bond for $5.5 million with no one even knowing what happened. They got fooled--the vote will be on January 16th for that spending. I will have more information regarding that vote on my website and this blog. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker

Thought I would comment on some recent additions to the Town of New Hartford "official" website. I will start with a quote from the "official" website:


"Our current Board is made up of a wealth of management backgrounds – business, insurance, utilities, engineering and manufacturing – a combination relatively new to New Hartford Town government."

Let's look at the previous town board and compare, shall we?

Help me out here, folks! Looks like the make-up of the board hasn't changed much--only the names and faces. What makes them think that they are a "combination relatively new to New Hartford Town government"? Are they so arrogant as to think they are the answer to all the town problems? Let me tell you, I have seen some pretty ignorant people in all walks of life. Who really cares what a person does for a living? I am more interested in how a person handles the job they were elected to do. Who wrote this--it was signed by Town Supervisor, Mr. Earle Reed.

And if the present board really wants to compare notes, let's look at the financial aspect of the town's business. The town supervisor job description, as written in the State of New York Local Government Handbook is:

"The supervisor is more of an administrator than an executive. The supervisor's duties under law are to:act as treasurer and have care and custody of monies belonging to the town; disburse monies; keep an accurate and complete account of all monies; make reports as required; pay fixed salaries and other claims; and lease, sell, and convey properties of the town, when so directed by the town board."

Ralph Humphreys was a "hands on" businessman and was easily able to handle the financial part of town business. Mr. Humphreys didn't need a comptroller. Mr. Reed on the other hand has openly stated that he doesn't have the financial background. Given his job description above, does that make Mr. Reed "unqualified" for the job?

And while we are at it, the Town Supervisor really should be the tie-breaking vote at town board meetings. Remember, it is each of the 4 councilmen who are supposed to represent the interest of the people in their wards. Been to a board meeting lately? You will find Mr. Reed piping up to vote "aye" long before any of the councilmen even have a chance to vote--not that it matters because I have yet to see a dissenting vote at any meeting and I haven't missed a meeting yet. I'll have more to say about this in a couple of days.

Maybe we should dub this town board the Triple A+ Town Board. The triple because three of them seem to think they are running the show, the A for ________ (you find in the blank) and the plus because they seem to think they are better than everyone else who resides in the town of New Hartford.

Message to Town Board:
Gentlemen, my mother always used to say that "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!" There is something wrong when you are not able to add information to the "official" town website without knocking someone down in an effort to make yourselves look good. This is not the first time this has happened, and it probably won't be the last. Please note that the "official" town website is, after all, a TOWN website and should not be used to throw stones at anyone! Maybe the writer has an inferiority complex--Aye?

Friday, December 8, 2006

Someone is trying to get their hand into the "cookie jar"!

Many of you may not know that our website was created after the town felt that they could do a better job than us by "partnering with the school" and using students to create the website.

We created many programs that are copyrighted by us and we were not willing to sell or give them to the town. Our choice, since we designed the programs and wrote the necessary code to make them work.

For almost 3 years, we maintained the town website and created our programs and we never had a problem with anyone trying to "steal" our work. Funny though, since we have had our own website and the town no longer has the use of our Who is My Councilman? program, our Assessments Online program, our Search Town Board Minutes program, our Trash and Brush Schedule" program, our Where Do I Vote? program and many other programs we designed, someone is routinely trying to break into our cgi-bin files to try to "steal" our copyrighted programs. Funnier still is that even while we were doing the work for the town, the programs we created resided on the same website address as you would now enter in your browser to get to our website (http://www.townofnewhartford.com)--a domain that we purchased about 2 years ago. Coincidence that someone would all of a sudden be trying to "break-in"?

By the way, according to the Observer Dispatch article on December 6th, the town, school and village are planning to work together to save money on website development. Town residents should know that we worked many hours, paid for software, paper, ink, etc. and never asked for nor received any compensation in return. We did it because we wanted to make sure that information was readily available to residents (the same reason why we continue to maintain our site). So who is the town paying and where do they plan on saving money when they had everything for FREE until they decided to "partner with the school" and forgot to include us in the planning?

NOTE TO TOWN BOARD: Some town residents do have skills that could help in town government. One of Mr. Payne's comments to us was that "there are some very smart high school kids who will be able to take care of the programming we were doing". Well, Mr. Payne, there is a difference between being able to use a piece of software such as Word, Excel, etc. and being able to create your own programs from scratch like we do. We have many years experience using several different computer languages and creating programs. The students could have learned many things from us, but you went behind our backs and made it clear that we were not welcome and the work we were doing for FREE was not appreciated. After you told us that the school would be doing the website and I asked you what we would be doing, your comment was "What do you do now?" Well, Mr. Payne, have you found out yet what it was we were doing for the town?

Sunday, December 3, 2006

More Triple A+ project thoughts

It is amazing how many people have no idea that the purchase of the land on Tibbitts Road is actually part of the $26.2 million bond plan. It is NOT a separate vote! IF you vote for the school renovations, community performing arts center and playing field, you also vote for the acquisition of the 87 acres on Tibbitts Road. Nothing like cramming something down the throats of the taxpayers. Everyone knows that renovations to classrooms usually will get a favorable vote so let's just roll it all up into one vote.

Mr. Gilligan said that studies show that if a bus garage was put to a separate vote, the chances are probable that the vote would be turned down. He states that the school desperately needs a new bus garage/repair facility. I'll have to take his word on that; although according to their brochure, they are spending $340,000 of the Triple A+ project bond money to renovate the present bus garage so I'm just not sure why there is such a rush to purchase 87 acres with no supposed definite plans for how it will be developed, who will develop it and how much it will cost. I would be more willing to accept his "desperately needed bus garage/repair shop" theory if it was on less land--like maybe just the land that is actually needed.

It is not right to limit the vote for purchasing the 87 acres to school district residents and then have the town develop the land and all taxpayers regardless of their school district will have to pay for any improvements the town makes to the New Hartford Central School District property on Tibbitts Road. Mr. Gilligan stated that the same things now applies to the parks, i.e., Sherrillbrook--all town residents pay the costs associated with the parks. Au contrare, Mr. Gilligan, all residents have a vested interest in the town parks because the town owns them. But not all residents have the same connection to property owned by New Hartford Central School!

And given the fact that the town is involved is scary given their past history. They don't seem to like to be upfront with the taxpayers as evidenced by the fact that we had to gather signatures to force a vote for spending money because they felt they didn't need to provide any explanations as to how the money will be spent. Mr. Reed feels he needs to "educate the public" regarding the bond resolutions. I haven't seen any "educating" to date, and in fact, $500,000 of the money they were going to include in the bonds for paving has been taken out and will not be voted on in January when the rest of the bond resolutions are brought to a vote. It turns out that they decided that paving really is a yearly expense--no kidding! Looks like they don't know as much as they think--maybe they are the ones that need "educating".

At any rate, attend the Public Hearing at 7:00 p.m. in the high school auditorium on Tuesday, Dec. 5th, register to vote if you haven't already and then make sure to vote on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 in the high school gym from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Absentee ballots are also available. Call the school for details or refer to the brochure you should have received in the mail.

Friday, December 1, 2006

New Hartford Central School Triple A+ Project

I sent an email to Dan Gilligan on Wednesday, November 29th and asked a few questions regarding the school bond vote on December 12th. Mr. Gilligan was kind enough to phone me on Friday, Dec. 1 and he spent a considerable amount of time talking to me. I appreciate his effort, but at the end, we agreed to disagree.

Here are the questions I asked in my email and my update after talking to Mr. Gilligan is in yellow.


1. How many extra seats will there be in the new auditorium? According to Mr. Gilligan, it's not so much how many extra seats, but the fact that they are bigger with more room in between. Admittedly, there are not that many extra seats planned; in fact, I have heard about 40 extra seats from other sources.

2. On page 10 of the brochure I received in the mail today, under Project Cost by Component, there is $340,000 for the Bus Repair Facility. What is that money going to be used for? This money is to repair the present bus garage/repair facility. Mr. Gilligan says it is in disrepair and if they build the new garage on Tibbitts Road, they plan to use the old garage for storage so they feel it is worth repairing the facility. There is also the chance that the bond will not be approved and the land on Tibbitts Road will not be purchased. So the present garage will need to be repaired and eventually replaced.

3. For the Tripe A+ project only residents of the New Hartford Central School District will be eligible to vote on the bonding that includes the purchase of land on Tibbitts Road. Since there are residents of other school districts in the Town of New Hartford (like Sauquoit Valley, Clinton Central, New York Mills) who pay Town of New Hartford taxes, they would not get a vote on the purchase of the land, however, they may be asked to fund development of land that belongs to the New Hartford School District through increased town taxes in the next 3 to 5 years? How will the school and town ask these taxpayers to fund development of New Hartford Central School property? By Mr. Gilligan's own words at the Tibbitts Road residents meeting on Nov. 20th, the school will not get any State Aid for this property until it is developed, i.e. a building is on the property. So either (a) they are buying the land strictly for an investment (as was also mentioned at that meeting) or (b) someone plans on building something on that land. If it is (a), I'm not sure the school should be in the investment business and if it is (b), I want more details regarding the costs to all Town of New Hartford taxpayers if the town and school plan to co-develop this land. This is the part of the project that most bothers me, not only because I will be affected by the increased traffic on Tibbitts Road, but because the school wants to buy 87 acres with no specific plan or details as to just what part the town will play in the development of that land or for that matter just what the school plans are. As a taxpayer, I want to know where they are going with this before I vote yes. How much will it eventually add to the tax bills?

4. The 87 acres on Tibbitts Road currently has an agricultural exemption on the property thereby lowering the assessed value on the land and reducing the taxes they pay. By law, a piece of property with an agricultural exemption (see the last question on the link page) cannot be developed for other than agricultural purposes for at least 5 years after the last year the agricultural exemption is granted or a penalty has to be paid to repay the taxes, etc. Has this been taken into consideration and are the Keaveneys aware that they will have to pay this penalty? Mr. Gilligan did not know if the Keaveneys are aware of the penalty, but stated it would be up to them to take care of the situation. Not a problem if the school does not plan on building before 5 years. Guess we don't know that.

5. Once the project is approved, is there an automatic guarantee that the school will receive State Building Aid of 50% for the life of the bonds or could that percentage change if the formula for funding schools is reworked? Has New Hartford always received 50% State Building Aid to date or has it been more or less in previous years? We didn't get into this one, but I doubt strongly there are any guarantees as far as State Aid goes. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

6. Are there any statistics regarding enrollment over the last 5-6 years?
Here are the figures according to Mr. Gilligan:

  • Sept 02 - 2,711
  • Sept 03 - 2,682
  • Sept 04 - 2,698
  • Sept 05 - 2,678
  • Sept 06 - 2,670

We certainly aren't growing by leaps and bounds, in fact at the present time enrollment is dropping slightly each year. We could speculate that enrollment will suddenly surge if a chip fab plant or something like it is located on the SUNY Marcy campus, but what is the chance and who is to say anyone will choose to build or buy in New Hartford. Pure speculation.

Bottom line, everyone will have to decide how they wish to vote, but please exercise your right to vote.

If you haven't yet registered, you can register on Saturday, December 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the Senior High School lobby or Tuesday, December 5 from 4:00 - 7:30 p.m. in the Bradley Elementary School lobby.

There is a Public Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, December 5th at 7:00 p.m. in the high school auditorium. I urge everyone to attend and ask questions.

The vote is on Tuesday, December 12 from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the high school gym.