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Monday, January 22, 2007

loves me....loves me not!

Anyone else notice that the Observer Dispatch editorial board seems to be flip-flopping a lot lately when it comes to the New Hartford School bond vote?

First, the New Hartford Central School bond was a good plan and we should vote for it--it's for the children.

Then the vote fails and the Observer Dispatch editorial board says that New Hartford School should take a second look at the plan and drop the land and perhaps scale back the Performing Arts Center.

The school decides to drop the land, at least for now, but leaves everything else exactly the way it was for the first vote--no scaling back on the auditorium. Now it is once again a good plan and we should vote for it according to the Observer Dispatch editorial board in the January 22, 2007 paper.

And regarding the auditorium, the people I talk to don't want to pay for a $15+ million Performing Arts Theatre. Everyone agrees that the present auditorium needs some work, but this proposal is more of a "want" than addressing the actual "need".

And by the way, how many seats will be in there? When I spoke to Mr. Gilligan before the last vote, he said they currently had 450 seats and it would be about a 10% increase in seating; so about 500 seats. He said they weren't really adding that many seats, they were adding bigger seats to accommodate today's "seats". At the public hearing in December, they were saying about 500 - 550, but they didn't have an exact number. Now in today's editorial, it is stated as 600 seats. Is this project growing or are they adjusting the number of seats to try to make it more appealing to the voters?

And does anyone think there might be a reason as to why the voting for the BOCES bond issue will be held in the high school band room instead of the gymnasium?


Arkangel said...

Mr. Gilligan is an honest and forthright man with a conscience, concerned over the community's needs for educational standards that make the New Hartford community proud of their yearly graduates.

I am of the mindset that New Hartford residents would be better off to close Oxford Road school, sell it for it's commercial land value and build a brand new High School on Higby Road, adjacent to the New Hartford Elementary School.

Consolidation of our schools becomes imperative! Upper most in our minds should be the education of our students, however, academics first...sports last!

Arkangel believes that it is incumbent upon the Board to lay out it's master plan with the community residents in such detail to include aggregate costs, state aid and annual costs to the taxpayers - absent any expected Star benefit.

There should be no hidden benefits of bonding, if projected costs come under bonded amounts. Excess funds should not be viewed as a slush fund to be spent on nice to have versus necessities - as other school districts often do.

To use the Star program against this capital improvements project on its own does the taxpayers a disservice. Why? Because the Star program was put forth to offset the annualized taxes NOT a single capital project or its equivalent.

Town Assessments both commercial and residential property is an integral part of revenue to the School District. The assessor is under a statutory duty to assess property in his or her jurisdiction at a uniform percentage of value. Obviously, Mr. Smith has failed his due diligence and violated the residents "rights" to due process.

There too, is a disconnect between expenditures and receipts (tax revenue + "anticipated" school aid from Albany.

Town residents must demand an accounting of all taxable property within the Town of New Hartford from the Town Assessor (Paul Smith). A well known fact that comes to mind is that the Town Assessor is required by law to review ALL tax exempt properties and to take such action in revoking and/or reducing any tax exempt property that does not comport with guidelines put forth by the Office of Real Property and several well placed Appellate Court Decisions.

It must be noted the New York State Appellate Division rejected an argument that a settlement agreement was unconstitutional because it limited the power to tax delegated to the municipality by the State constitution. Mr. Smith should take heed of this Town violation which can be used as a basis to bring an action against a Town Assessor and/or any Town elected official. (American Cyanamid Co. V. Board of Assessors, 288 A.D. 2d 213, 733 N.Y.S. 2d. 103 (2d Dept 2001)

It is further interesting to note that the web master of this article has put together a listing of numerous allegedly tax exempt properties, many of which are questionable as to their tax exempt status.

Mr. Smith's continued refusal to reexamine and reassess and/or revoke current tax exempt properties may rise to either civil and/or criminal action(s) depending on the circumstances giving rise to the continuance of the exemptions given to the properties listed.

It becomes equally interesting in that each and every Town of New Hartford elected official knows of their dereliction in their wilful failure in the removal of several tax exempt properties from the roles and too, their wilful negligence in their failure to assess Preswick Glen for (at least) $25,000,000. Yes, that is $25 million. Taxpayers, think of how much your property taxes could be reduced?

Lastly, this web master has taken the time to enumerate and illustrate properties situated within the Town of New Hartford that have been erroneously reassessed and need downward adjustment(s).

If residents want action; I recommend that they read the Osborne - Rye, New York Appellate Court Decision dated 12/30/2006 (a Decision the Board wanted kept secret) and contact the Respondents attorneys (Daniel G. Vincelette, Esq, Albany, New York) and solicit his firms help in forming a "grass roots" committee to initiate a Class-Action lawsuit against the Town Assessor and Town Officials and let the Courts speak when handing down a Decision favorable to the Petitioners (Town Residents).

We speak as many or we speak as none. There is strength in numbers and we can prevail.

New Hartford, N.Y. Online said...

Mr. Gilligan may be a very fine gentleman, I don't know him personally. I only know him through the conversations we have had on the phone.

However, Mr. Gilligan has also been charged by the school board with trying to get the bond vote passed. There have been many inconsistencies regarding the school bonding depending on who you are talking to and when you talk to them. That is not a good thing.

I also believe that both Mr. Gilligan and Mr. Reed know more than they are saying regarding the plans for the land on Tibbitts Road. While the land purchase is not currently a part of the bond vote, the school was quoted in the paper as saying it is off the table for the time being, i.e. we will be hearing more about it at a later date. According to Mr. Gilligan, they have an option on the land until October 2007.

One of the benefits of purchasing the land according to the brochure that was sent to every home in New Hartford by the school district is "to preserve greenspace in the Town of New Hartford". Add that to the fact that the Town of New Hartford retained Hartgen ( to look over the property. You better believe that both the school and town are developing an Open Space Plan together. Do a search on "Open Space Planning" and see what you find.

In other words, they are planning to develop a park on that property. The mistake they are making is to not come out and tell the people what they are doing. They probably fear that it will not get the support of the people and they are probably right. We don't need another park so close to Sherrillbrook Park and it will most certainly raise property taxes in the long run no matter how many grants they acquire to get their plans off the ground. It is great to dream, but the reality is that when taxes increase to the point that no one can afford to live in New Hartford, we will all lose.

As far as town assessments, some people are overassessed, but a great majority of them are underassessed as evidenced by the fact that the equalization rate is dropping. When the equalization rate drops we all lose. Many people either never were reassessed during the State program or they were only trended. NO ONE in the Town of New Hartford, with a rare exception, should still have the same assessed value as they had in 1995, the last time this town was reassessed by an outside firm. However, there are many that do.

Whether the problems that exist were merely mistakes or whether the goal was only to raise enough assessments to satisfy the State is anyone's guess. The fact remains that this Town Board admits the mistakes, but does not want to fix them because they fear a "firestorm". Everyone should demand that the errors are fixed because it will benefit us all. If all properties were assessed at their market value, and the taxing entities did not get greedy and raise their budgets, we would see a drop in our tax rate. Furthermore, for any person to not be paying their fair share of the tax burden is plain and simply wrong. Unfortunately, it will take a "firestorm" before this board will react.