Click on words in blue print to view past blogs on each of the subjects below:
Do you live in the part of the Village of New York Mills that is in the Town of New Hartford? The 2007 adopted town budget tripled your tax rate per thousand from $.07 in 2006 to $.24 for 2007. We will be blogging more on this subject tomorrow evening.
These bond propositions will not benefit town residents in the Village of New York Mills one iota and yet it will once again almost double your town tax rate, an additional $.18 per thousand is the estimate by the town board. We have researched whether or not Villages outside of Towns can legally be charged for town improvements. So far our research has shown that the town cannot legally charge a village "without the consent of the Village". When the town board was questioned at the March 14, 2007 town board meeting as to whether or not it is legal to charge the Villages for improvements, the town board's reply was "we don't know". Yet they are proceeding to do just that even though they admit they don't know the law in that situation.
We also questioned whether they could just put sidewalks anywhere they want and whether they would let the residents have a say and hold a public hearing prior to sidewalks being constructed. The general opinion of the town board was they weren't sure, however, Councilman Waszkiewicz said he would welcome resident input. That's nice Councilman Waszkiewicz! However, our research has shown that town law says the town board must prepare maps, plans and reports and present them at a public hearing prior to any sidewalks being built in a town. I think perhaps our town attorney needs to step up his "on the job training" that he admitted to at the February 7, 2007 Town Board meeting. Just because this town board doesn't want resident input doesn't mean that Town Law doesn't require it.
Highway Superintendent Roger Cleveland, has already disposed of a 1995 Gradall and illegally entered into a lease purchase agreement for a new "used" Gradall without board approval, or even bothering to go to bid. In fact, he didn't even bother to get a board resolution to declare the 1995 Gradall as surplus, he just advertised the Invitation to Bid.
Town Supervisor Earle Reed found it necessary to either fabricate information to upgrade the town's bond rating with Standard & Poor's or else he is not being honest with town residents. Supervisor Reed told Standard & Poor's that the town is bonding for $3 for a court facility and storm water management and by year end he will be putting $2 million in reserves. I think you will find that means that about $2 million of the bond money will not be spent right away.
End of year transfers total $550,000 compared with other years where the total has been roughly $170,000. Some of those end-of-year transfers were taken out of employee benefit accounts. Concern has been raised as to whether 2006 expenditures were outpacing the budget.
By the way, we submitted a Freedom of Information request for month end financial reports that are supposed to be available in the Town Clerk's office according to town law. Well, we have been informed that they only ones they can't provide right now--in the middle of March 2007--is the one ending December 31, 2006. How coincidental is that? I wonder how they did the 2006 year-end transfers if the year-end financials are not available?
After a year of 25 minute town board meetings twice a month, Supervisor Reed decided to pare the meetings to 25 minutes once a month. It is once again apparent that town residents are not welcome to take part in town government. Supervisor Reed says that the board members work so well in committee they don't need to have more than 1 town board meeting a month.
After 3 years of the town website being done for free by town residents, in May 2006 Councilman Robert Payne took over the town website--then backed out of it when the going got tough and now it is being done by the Dispatch Supervisor. If you previously used the resources on the "old" town website, you have probably clearly noticed the difference. As part of the "take over" Councilman Payne attempted to put the assessments online. However, Councilman Payne found out the "hard way" that he is not computer savvy enough to do it himself. Not to worry because the town board has decided that taxpayers will now be paying SDG in Utica about $4,000 to do what was previously done by town residents for free.
The Resident Sidewalk Committee is made up of town department heads and a couple of town department committee members. Councilman Payne, when asked where are the residents on the Resident Sidewalk Committee at one of the informational meetings, smugly said, "Aren't they all residents?"
Looks like some of the people benefiting from the $2 million stormwater management bond will be the town attorney and his law firm, albeit illegally. And speaking of the town attorney aka head of the Town Republican committee, you don't want to miss his version of how residents are selected as Republican candidates in the Town of New Hartford.
On March 7, 2007, we submitted a Freedom of Information request for the purchase of 1 Oxford Crossing. That is the building that was to be a court facility, then a police station and additional town office and now a public safety building according to the handout they mailed this week We asked for:
1. any plans, drawings, etc. showing the details of how the building at 1 Oxford Crossing will be configured if the Town of New Hartford purchases the building..To date, we have not been given any information regarding our request. Is the information not available or does the town board not want residents to see what they have concocted "behind closed doors"?
2. the name of the person(s) (contractor or architect, etc.) who gave the $500,000 renovation estimate to the town and the date of the estimate.
3. Copy of the written estimate, if available, giving a breakdown of the costs associated with each part of the $500,000 renovation estimate. Otherwise, some kind of breakdown for the $500,000 renovation costs.
4. The latest purchase offer signed by both the town and Mr. Schuurman. I already have the December purchase offer. According to Attorney Green because of the delay of the bond vote, a new purchase offer would need to be signed. That is the copy I want--it should be dated after January 17, 2007.
5. The status of any leases currently in effect for offices at 1 Oxford Crossing including the date the leases expire and whether or not all current renters are willing to vacate the property upon purchase by the town.
These are just some of the items you will be able to read about by browsing through our blog entries. We have provided Freedom of Information articles and reports to back up the information in our blog entries. Residents have a reason to be concerned. This bonding will not solve any of the town's problems and given the lack of information, we are concerned that residents have not been given the whole truth.
Please vote on Thursday, March 29, 2007. If you need to find out where to vote, please use our Where Do I Vote? program. By entering your street, you will be able to find out the polling place for your ward and district. We also have much more information regarding each of the bond propositions on our website.