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Friday, September 28, 2007

Just a 3% BUDGET INCREASE...

that could mean a lot of things to different people.

Probably a lot of people do not realize that the town budget is actually divided into many parts. Depending on what part of the budget (spending) increased 3% (or more), it might be a larger tax increase than might be anticipated if you were to only do 'simple math'. The budget is actually divided into:
General Whole-Town - Revenues & costs for services supplied to all town residents.

General Whole-Town Minus NYM - Revenues & costs for services supplied to all town residents outside of NYM.

General Part-Town - Revenues & costs for services supplied to town residents living outside Villages.

Highway Whole-Town - Revenues & costs for highway services supplied to all town residents including bridges.

Highway Part-Town - Revenues & costs for services supplied to town residents living outside Villages.

Special district Taxes - Area specific such as fire, lighting, sewer, or storm water districts.
General Whole-town is the part of the budget that affects all town residents including New York Mills/Town of New Hartford residents. Last year, while there was only a 2% increase in the budget, the General Whole-town tax rate tripled from $.075 per thousand to $.241 per thousand. That is a 300% increase in General Whole-Town tax rate. This is most important to people living in the Village of New York Mills/Town of New Hartford because the General Whole-town tax rate determines the town tax bill for Village of NYM/Town of New Hartford residents. While it doesn't sound like much dollar-wise (a $.165 per thousand increase), considering the services New York Mills residents don't receive from the Town, it is a substantial increase.

The reason for that increase to the General Whole-Town tax rate was because the available fund balances used to offset the 2007 General Whole-town budget were less than were available to offset the 2006 budget. If there are less fund balances this year, General Whole-town will increase again and Village of New York Mills residents would see another increase; however, that increase would not necessarily be due to an increase in the budget, but rather a reduction in the amount of fund balances that are available to offset the budget.

General Whole-town Minus NYM affects everyone except NYM residents. By law, the town cannot tax New York Mills residents for costs associated with the Police Department because the Village has their own Police Department. Additionally, if you live outside the Village of New York Mills, your tax rate is determined by combining the General Whole-Town tax rate plus the General Whole-Town Minus NYM.

While any increased expenses in the Police Department would increase the budget, only people outside the Village of New York Mills would be paying for those increased expenses; therefore, a smaller tax base would be used to calculate the tax rate since NYM would not be included. However, an increase due to additional Library funding affects all residents, including those in the Village of New York Mills/Town of New Hartford and therefore, a larger tax base would be used to calculate the tax rate for any increased Library funding in the budget.

We don't want to get too technical here, but suffice it to say that by the Town Supervisor saying that it will be about a 3% budget increase, he really isn't saying much--it depends where the increases are and how much money is in the fund balance. The proof will be in the pudding...when the tax rates are 'unveiled'.

Remember, there is definitely a reason that the Town Board voted to appoint a Financial Advisor at the September 26, 2007 Town Board meeting. We already have a very competent bookkeeper, Carol Fairbrother. Carol, since you weren't at the town board meeting I will warn you that the Town Board said they needed to hire Mr. Basile because they are fearful that you might walk out the side door of Butler Hall and get hit by a truck frantically making its way to the bank next door. Take my advice, Carol, and make sure to only walk out either the front door or the back door so the town "leaders" can rest a little easier at night! And Carol, be particularly careful if you see an orange truck frantically making their way to the bank because I think I heard your "Swan Song" playing in the background at Wednesday's Town Board Meeting!

By the way, the Observer Dispatch was incorrect when they stated that Frank Basile would be retained by the town for a rate of $80.00 per hour. What Mr. Reed actually said was that the work done by Frank Basile would be at the rate of $150.00 per hour. The $80 per hour was for the work of a Senior Accountant, not Mr. Basile! And isn't it interesting that the Town hired Mr. Basile at the September 26, 2007 town board meeting and on September 27th they already know the budget increase for the 2008 budget. According to the September 27, 2007 Observer Dispatch:
"Frank Basile will assist bookkeeper Carol Fairbrother prepare the 2008 budget."
You don't suppose that Mr. Basile was already working for the town and the resolution passed at the meeting was like "Closing the barn door" , do you?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

There's been a change in plans.....

If you remember back on August 23, 2007, we reported that the New Hartford School was no longer paying a share of the legal fees of Attorney Vincelette in the Preswick Glen litigation. According to Mr. Gilligan, the school has unique interests and it is best to have two attorneys on board.

After the executive session held at the September 12, 2007 Town Board meeting, the board reconvened and passed the following resolution as noted in the DRAFT Board minutes we received through a FOIL request:
Agreement/cost sharing of legal fees – Preswick Glen
Councilman Payne introduced the following Resolution for adoption; seconded by Councilman Waszkiewicz:

(RESOLUTION NO. .. OF 2007)

RESOLVED that the New Hartford Town Board does hereby authorize and direct Attorney Gerald Green to prepare a written agreement pertaining to the cost sharing of legal fees with regard to the Preswick Glen legal matter (26% County, 74% Town).

A roll call vote was duly held as follows:
Councilman Waszkiewicz - Aye
Councilman Woodland - Aye
Councilman Reynolds - Aye
Councilman Payne - Aye
Supervisor Reed - Aye..
The Resolution was declared unanimously carried and duly ADOPTED.
The original agreement was that the school would pay 68%, the County would pay 26% and the town would pay 6%.

Surprise, surprise! Looks like the Town will now pay 74% of Mr. Vincelette's legal fees! And then if you live in the New Hartford Central School District, you will be paying 100% of the fees for the attorney they have hired to defend their "unique" interests. Although, Mr. Gilligan seemed to think that it would all equal out, because two lawyers would each probably bill for fewer (or at least the same) number of hours than if there was only one...have I mentioned my bridge that is for sale?

The question that remains is...what is so "unique" about the interests of the school vs. the interests of the town and county? Aren't they all trying to defend the decision that Preswick Glen is taxable...or was there some kind of disagreement between the "players" and now the school is taking their pail and shovel and leaving to play in another sandbox?

Ca-ching!, Ca-ching!

Town Board Meeting Tonight...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How ridiculous!

Read the Local section of this morning's Observer Dispatch yet?

Yup, the Town Board is at it again...this time they are making it difficult for Concerned Citizens to get the 2007 Final Roll so that we can update our Online Assessment Program that has assessment history back to 2001 on all parcels in New Hartford vs. the assessments the Town Board wants you to see on their website that only has 2007 information (no history) and has about 200 parcels missing!

This morning we sent an email to the Office of Real Property Services Regional Office in Syracuse. There is a person in that office who is "trying" to figure out the problem. Yesterday, she said that she has been using the RPS program (that's the computer software that the Assessor uses in his office for keeping track of assessments) for a long time so she knows all about it. Is that a fact? This blogger has been managing databases (that's the "raw" information that the software the Assessor uses actually creates) for many years! In other words, I don't need the RPS program software...I use the 'raw' data to create my own reports.

The sad part is that all this hubbub could be resolved if the town would stop playing their games and just give me a database backup copy with the same exact files they have been giving me since 2003. But this administration doesn't want to play nice...they want to make it difficult for us to be able to make a complete history of all town property assessments (2001 to present) available on our website...by the way, that's the only place you will be able to find the history of your assessments online. The assessor claims to not even have that information on his computer. Gee, I wonder why the town board is making it so difficult for us?

Sadly, some members of the Town Board are vindictive and it seems to be 'clouding' their judgment. Just like closing residents out of Stormwater Advisory Meetings. Why would you do that? Did they forget who is paying the tab?

“I have made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it.”
- Voltaire

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Stupid is as stupid does....

meaning that an intelligent person who does stupid things is still stupid. You are what you do.

It was reported to me that Town Attorney Jerry Green attended last night's Stormwater Advisory meeting to "enlighten" the group as to why the Stormwater meetings need to be closed to the public.

I have yet to hear a good reason for "locking out the public" from these meetings coming from either Attorney Green or the three (3) Town Board members who voted to close the meetings at the September 12, 2007 Town Board meeting.

Town Attorney Green even tried to "pick a fight" with me outside the Hughes Elementary School on Primary Day while I stood passing out Russ Cerminaro pamphlets and introducing myself to the voters in Ward 2.

Mr. Green wanted to know just how many members of the Concerned Citizens group there were and who was involved with the group. He tried to ask me why I was so angry and wasting my time on this. Angry...Mr. Green? Actually, I am a very happy person...I just can't stand to see laws broken and I hate taxpayers being treated as fools.

Gotta tell you, Attorney Green, it is pretty funny that you would try to defend a town board that thinks they have the right to be secretive even though the law says otherwise; yet you feel the need to make demands on me to disclose information that frankly is none of your business! Then to make those demands outside the polling place on Republican Primary Day is unbelievable, particularly given the fact that you are also the Chairman of the New Hartford Republican Party. Must be we have your "knickers in a knot", aye?

My only questions are why is the Town Board willing to pay Town Attorney Green $150 an hour to try to justify the board's reasons for ignoring the Open Meetings Law and why would Town Attorney Green want to argue against obeying the law in the first place?

End the waste of taxpayer dollars...vote for Russ Cerminaro on the Concerned Citizens party line in November!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ward 1 Councilman Robert A. Payne, III says...

According to the Observer Dispatch article, September 18, 2007, Board closes stormwater discussions to public:
* The stormwater group does a lot of brainstorming, Payne said. It would be easy for the public to misinterpret what's being discussed and subsequently disseminate incorrect information."
Town Board meetings have a lot of brainstorming and a lot of the bullsh*t could easily be misinterpreted, Councilman Payne. In order to keep the public from misinterpreting what is being discussed, perhaps we should close Town Board meetings, too.

Amazing...the Town Board tried to change Town Board meetings from twice a month to once a month to keep the public in the dark. But when the "3 Musketeers" on the Town Board found out that town board meeting minutes, by law, had to be given out within 2 weeks of the board meeting, the board voted to once again have 2 meetings a month. Guess your "closed" government didn't work for you that time either.

I have an idea...we could erect a statue of Earle Green in the center of the Village Park (and maybe one in Sherrillbrook Park too, just for good measure).

We could then install loud speakers throughout the town and disseminate only the information that the town board wants residents to believe as "the truth".

Next, either Reed, Reynolds or Payne could make a motion at the next Town Board meeting could that we rename the Town of New Hartford as the Town of Iraq!

We realize that not all residents are as smart as you Councilman Robert A. Payne, III, but I think members of Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government can adequately disseminate correct information. The information you don't want disseminated is the truth!

A vote for Ms. Krupa is a vote for closed government. On the other hand, Russ Cerminaro wants residents participation is government; Russ believes in following the Open Meetings Law mantra.

§100. Legislative declaration. It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy. The people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over those who are their public servants. It is the only climate under which the commonwealth will prosper and enable the governmental process to operate for the benefit of those who created it.
Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government is pleased to endorse Russ Cerminaro for Ward 2 Councilman in the Town of New Hartford!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Today is......

Republican Primary Day 2007



Russ Cerminaro is running for Ward 2 Councilman; he has the backing of Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government. Russ believes in open government and government by the people. He would appreciate your support in the election.

Russ Cerminaro - Together we can make a Difference!

Time for Change!

Open Letter to All Town of New Hartford Residents and Taxpayers!

Councilman Ward 2...Fact vs. Fiction (cont'd)

Ms. Krupa believes that the $2 million Bond for Storm Water Management should receive prudent and effective oversight.

I have only one question, Ms. Krupa. If the $2 million Bond for Storm Water management should receive prudent and effective oversight, how come your "buddy" on the town board, along with Councilmen Reynolds and Payne, voted on a resolution to keep residents out of the meetings to discuss how the money will be spent?

Can you think of any better way to prudently spend $2 million than to give the people who are "digging into their pockets" to pay the $2,000,000 back over the next 24 years an opportunity to be involved in the process...not to mention the people that are knee-deep in water? Closing the doors to these meetings is like putting your middle finger up to the taxpayers of New Hartford; not to mention the fact that the resolution is in direct violation of the Open Meetings Law.

And Ms. Krupa, I find it difficult to believe that you are not aware of the resolution the board passed on September 12, 2007; one of the few town board meetings you have attended. If you did not have actual knowledge, you certainly had constructive knowledge of the Town Board Resolution.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Councilman Ward 2...Fact vs. Fiction (cont'd)

Ms. Krupa believes that the town website is in dire need of improvement and can be made more user friendly. Is that a fact?

You know for 2 1/2 years the Town website was user-friendly and top-notch. The webmasters even had other towns writing to compliment New Hartford on their website. The best thing about it was that the website development cost taxpayers nothing, notta, not one penny...zip! The former webmasters even donated their own supplies, purchased extra software to be able to add some of the niceties, worked well into the night and sometimes through the night. They offered their time...not because they were getting paid to do the work, but because they took pride in their town and they hoped that in some small way they could give back to the community they lived in for almost 40 years.

Before these webmasters came on board, information was scarce. The town often times only relied on the Observer Dispatch to get the word out so if you didn't subscribe to the Observer Dispatch, information was not readily available. Remember the State Reassessment Program that nobody knew about until they received a Change of Assessment Notice in the mail? We have heard that is the event that prompted the former webmasters to offer to donate their time. They wanted to be sure that never again would something that big happen in New Hartford and the residents were left "in the dark", so to speak.

But then along came Councilman Robert A. Payne, III with his half-baked plan to "partner with the school". The former webmasters tried to tell the town board that the experience level needed to maintain a professional website was beyond the capabilities of high school students, but some members of the town board, Mr. Payne, in particular would not listen.

I seem to remember a very smug Councilman Payne saying at the June 2006 town board meeting that the assessments would be online within a week. Actually at that same meeting, Councilman Waszkiewicz suggested that the town board should thank the former webmasters for their hard-work and dedication. But, do you know that other than Councilman Waszkiewicz, not one board member had the courtesy to even acknowledge the former town webmasters? Not even Town Supervisor Earle C. Reed. They all just sat there with blank stares. All that work, time and expense those former webmasters donated and not one person on the town board was gracious enough to acknowledge the former webmasters publicly.

So now Ms. Krupa wants to campaign on the belief that the website is in dire need of improvement. Well, Ms. Krupa, you can thank your Republican cohorts...er... supporters on the town board for that one. Perhaps someone will ask Ms. Krupa how much of our tax dollars she is willing to spend to see to it that the "user-friendly" website she envisions is as "user-friendly" as the FREE website the Town had before Mr. Reed, Mr. Payne & Mr. Reynolds took office. By the way, the current "official" town website is now being done by the Dispatch Supervisor...guess the town board found out that it was not viable to have students from New Hartford Central School take on the task. Sometimes it is better not to attempt to "fix" something if it isn't broken, aye, Mr. Payne?

Time for Change!

Ward 2 Councilman...Fact vs. Fiction

Recently a mailing was sent out to residents of Ward 2 in the Town of New Hartford listing Ms. Krupa's "beliefs". One of Ms. Krupa's beliefs is "a town-wide real property tax assessment revaluation is not in the taxpayers' interest at this time--the last one raised most resident's taxes."

Ms. Krupa's belief is correct on two counts; "the last reassessment raised taxes" and "for most people". Let me explain the situation to Ms. Krupa, the Town Board, the Republican Party and anyone else who is unclear about the last reassessment.

First, reassessments do not raise taxes. Your taxes are raised because the budgets of the taxing entities (town, school & county) increase. During the last reassessment over $110,000,000 in new assessed value was added to the tax roll. If budgets for 2003 had not increased so drastically, you would have seen a decrease in your tax bill. However, some of these taxing entities spent more thereby "gobbling up" the increased revenue that the reassessments generated and in some cases they spent beyond. Remember, the school actually had a tax rate increase in 2003.

Secondly, the phrase "for most people" is very accurate. Several homes, recognizable names particularly, were not increased during the reassessment. It amazes me how such "smart" business people could have purchased homes in New Hartford that did not increase in value, yet my home increased in value twice; once in 2003 and again in 2004. Perhaps these "smart" business people should enroll in my "Real Estate Investment 101" course.

Take for instance, 1 Oxford Crossing. Last October, the town board was willing to bond for $998,000 to purchase that property for a public safety building...it is currently in the process of closing for a sale price of what has been reported to me as $1,000,000. Yet, for some unknown reason, the assessment on that property was actually lowered to $563,000 in 2001 during the time the commercial properties were being reassessed. Amazing! Guess who is subsidizing this lost tax revenue? Yes, we taxpayers!

The town supervisor's home has never been reassessed...guess, Mr. Reed is right...perhaps the town should hire a comptroller...Mr. Reed apparently is not good in financial matters!

I could go on and on, but I am not here to post the "dirty, little secrets" in New Hartford. But, believe me, Joe Citizen, a reassessment is in your best interest...the losers will be the people who have either never had their assessment raised or those that had their assessment raised such a minuscule amount that the assessed value is nowhere near the market value of their home!

Let me take this one step further. The town's equalization rate is based on the sales in our town vs. the assessed value of the homes that sold. The greater the difference between assessed value and sale prices, the lower the equalization rate. Every year when the equalization rate goes down, so does your STAR exemption. When we were at 100% assessed value, your Basic STAR exemption reduced your assessment by $30,000 prior to the figuring of your tax bill. However, for 2007, our equalization rate is 87% so your STAR exemption is only worth $27,650 off the assessed value of your home. Enhanced STAR should be worth $56,800 off your assessed value, yet with an 87% equalization rate, your Enhanced STAR for 2007 was worth $52,350. Other exemptions are affected as well.

Russ Cerminaro's platform is for "fair assessments". That means that if I have a $150,000 home; Mr. & Mrs. Got Rocks has a $150,000 home and Mr. & Mrs. Well Connected has a $150,000 home, we ALL pay the same real estate taxes. PERIOD! This can only be accomplished by a reassessment of ALL Town of New Hartford properties and an honest effort to keep ALL assessed values at 100% of market value! Careful spending on the part of all taxing entities wouldn't hurt either!

You can read more on our website.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Let's put some light on the subject...

Comment left on my previous blog:

Did Krupa say that the biggest problem was the Stormwater Bond Issue OR the stormwater problem? Because if she meant the water problem itself, I am in complete agreement...Secrecy IS a problem, but it is not the most important right now....(you can read the rest of this comment by clicking on comments on the previous blog)
Let me tell you how important secrecy is in New Hartford. Secrecy has kept Freedom of Information requests unfilled. I have even started to BLOG about the runaround we have been getting regarding getting a copy of the 2007 Assessments for our Online Assessment Program. Wait until I write the ending on this one...we are just waiting for one piece of information from Albany and then I will give you a full report.

Secrecy is what made the town board (Attorney Green) list D.E.C. Consent Order as Executive Session even though there was no justification for doing so. The subject was supposedly pulled after Concerned Citizens pressed the board on why they were discussing this topic in executive session, however, there is no way of knowing if it was still discussed or not. It clearly was not discussed in open session!

Secrecy is why you hear nothing about the Preswick Glen issue. Read the town board minutes...Mr. Green was going to give an update at every board meeting. Well? Who told you that the school is no longer paying part of the cost to retain Mr. Vincelette? Did you hear it from the town board...No, you heard it from Concerned Citizens; the town board discussed it in Executive Session at the last board meeting. By the way, the Executive Session was called about half-way into the meeting so that hopefully everyone would leave before they needed to discuss the items on the agenda that didn't qualify for Executive Session as well as the things that they didn't want anyone to know. Unfortunately for them, Concerned Citizens was willing to stand outside until the Executive Session ended and we were there for the rest of the meeting.

Secrecy is why you didn't hear about the $5.5 million bonds until Concerned Citizens stepped in. They weren't even going to let you know about it until after it was all said and done. Those bonds were scheduled to be sold on December 1, 2006! You were only offered the chance to vote because Concerned Citizens gave you that opportunity.

Secrecy is buying equipment without a board resolution absent the bidding process.

Now, let me tell you why they closed us out of the of the Stormwater Advisory Meetings.

Roger Cleveland and some of his "cronies" on the Stormwater Advisory Group seem to have a different take on what the Group decides than what really happens at the meetings. For instance, Mr. Cleveland, Councilman Bob Payne and Councilman Reynolds seemed to remember the Stormwater Group giving the go ahead to have Schumaker do work on a study for the Woodberry Hills area. The work was begun before the town board even approved it.

At the town board meeting, Councilman Waszkiewicz questioned whether the Group ever made that recommendation because Councilman Waszkiewicz was at the meeting and he didn't remember any such thing...neither did one of the other members of the Stormwater Advisory Group. Councilman Payne and Roger Cleveland vehemently disagreed and said that they remember the Group agreeing that the Woodberry Hills area needed to be started first. Incidentally, one of the people on the Group just happens to live on Woodberry Road. The board took the side of Councilman Reynolds and Payne and passed a resolution allowing Schumaker to begin even though there was confusion as to what the recommendation was or if it was ever made....That is when we (Concerned Citizens) started to attend the Stormwater Advisory meetings so that we could tell what was said. We attended two meetings, never said a word, caused no disruption and lo and behold now they pass a resolution to keep us out. Why do you think they did that?....(You can read my comment in its entirety by clicking on comments on the previous blog)

A government that closes the doors on one of the most important issues in New Hartford likely is not as concerned about the problem as they are with whose problem gets fixed. There is no need to close the doors when everything is above board! And let's not forget that closing the doors to the public for the Stormwater Advisory Group goes against the Open Meeting Law--they had no "good" reason to do it and the law is not on their side.

Ms. Krupa was "hand-picked" by the same people that are in office today, Reed, Reynolds, Payne & Green. How do you think she will vote?.... Mr. Cerminaro is not "in bed" with the current administration...owes them nothing...and only wants to see that residents voices are heard. That is why Concerned Citizens is backing Mr. Cerminaro on the Republican Line for the September 18th Republican Primary. He will also be a candidate on the Concerned Citizens line in November!

These things never would have happened in the previous administration. All one had to do was attend the Town Board meetings to know what was going on. Let's not confuse secrecy with difference of opinion. It is o.k. to disagree about how to handle a situation....but, it is quite another to never give anyone the chance to disagree.

We were "locked out" of the Stormwater Advisory Group meetings so that we could not report the facts to you and/or voice any disagreement. In other words, the town board (Reed, Reynolds & Payne) do not want us to report to you what is going on with one of the "most important" issues in New Hartford; at least according to Ms. Krupa's opinion in today's paper.

Wake up, New Hartford!

Friday, September 14, 2007

ROTFLMAO...

or in chat room lingo...Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off! Houston, we have a problem!

The Observer Dispatch finally got Russ Cerminaro's press release published...it apparently got lost during the "changing of the guard" or so we were told.

Mr. Cerminaro, who is retired from General Electric, was one of the members of the Citizens Budget Review Committee that Supervisor Reed abolished after he took office. You can view Mr. Cerminaro's platform or email him by visiting his website.

The Observer Dispatch asked Mr. Cerminaro...What is the biggest issue facing the town, and how would you solve it?

Mr. Cerminaro said and I quote directly from the Observer Dispatch...

"The biggest problem with the current administration is the lack of open government and it continues to get worse. It has effectively been one of secrecy and a failure to communicate and/or allow town residents to become a part of a participative government."

Cerminaro cited examples including dissolving of the Citizen Budget Review Committee, which Cerminaro was a part of, and town action this week that Cerminaro said bars public access to the Stormwater Advisory Group's deliberations (Town officials could not be reached Friday to discuss this issue).

(Let me just interject my note...funny, town officials were available to read my website and blog today!)

"This is the type of closed government I will try to put an end to if elected," Cerminaro said. "Since I would be outnumbered on the board, I would go to the public for support and ask them to raise their voices to stop this outrage. Secondly I would use whatever legal avenues available to assist me. The people of New Hartford deserve better government for their tax dollars."

Ms. Krupa, an Attorney and certified public accountant, currently working in Syracuse (Pyramid Management, i.e. Sangertown Square; oh, did they forget to say that in the paper!).

The Observer Dispatch asked Ms. Krupa...
What is the biggest issue facing the town, and how would you solve it?

Ms. Krupa said, and I quote directly from the Observer Dispatch...

We have the $2 million bond issue to address the stormwater problem. We have to be sure it gets adequately addressed and solved."
Wait a minute...Ms. Krupa says that the $2,000,000 bond issue is the biggest problem facing New Hartford, yet I don't see how she plans to solve it. Ms. Krupa, the town board just passed a resolution on September 12, 2007 to close the Stormwater Advisory Meetings to the public even though it is against the Open Meetings Law. Doesn't the public have the right to know what approach the town is taking in solving these issues?

Earle C. Reed, Supervisor of the Town of New Hartford, has a Letter to the Editor in today's paper encouraging people to vote for Ms. Krupa. The kicker is that Mr. Reed was one of the 3 people on the Town Board to vote in favor of locking taxpayers out of the Stormwater Advisory Meetings.

(Let me interject my question...) So Ms. Krupa do you think that the Stormwater Advisory Group meetings should be open to the public...or do you think it is none of taxpayers' business how the town spends the $2,000,000 bond money and the Town Board resolution should stand even though the resolution is illegal?

I bet there are some people that are sometimes 'knee-deep' in water that would like to know if you support Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government's right to attend these meetings and report on them. Don't ya think, Ms. Krupa? What say you?

I'll even offer to publish your reply on my blog...how's that for "fair and balanced"?

Arrogance (Ar"ro*gance) ...

The act or habit of arrogating, or making undue claims in an overbearing manner; that species of pride which consists in exorbitant claims of rank, dignity, estimation, or power, or which exalts the worth or importance of the person to an undue degree; proud contempt of others; lordliness; haughtiness; self-assumption; presumption.
Synonyms -- Haughtiness; hauteur; assumption; lordliness; presumption; pride; disdain; insolence; conceit; conceitedness. See Haughtiness.
Overheard at last night's Town Board meeting (actually, I believe that it was meant for us to hear it; us being Concerned Citizens):

Earle Reed, Town Supervisor speaking to Christine Krupa, the "chosen" Republican candidate for Ward 2 Councilman:
"I spoke to Trainor and everything is all set. Trainor has handled big names like "Toyota" so there will be no problem. It is all taken care of".
So that's why Trainor was "nosing" around Concerned Citizens website...interesting..sounds like a PR blitz is on the horizon!

Jerry Green, town attorney and Chairman of the New Hartford Republican Party, speaking to Dan Vincelette, legal counsel for the Preswick Glen lawsuit:
"Dan, meet Christine Krupa. We expect she will be the new Ward 2 Councilperson before the Preswick Glen case is settled."
And not for nothing, but even if the Open Meetings Law didn't apply to the Stormwater Advisory Group, why on earth would any town board pass a resolution to close the meetings to the public...the people who are dealing with stormwater issues...the people who are being taxed over the next 24 years to pay for a $2,000,000 bond to fix the stormwater problems? Why would you do that? Arrogance?

The fact that the Open Meetings Law does apply to the Stormwater Advisory Group makes it even more disturbing!

Time for Change!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More On The Cone of Silence......

Activate the Cone of Silence!


The Town Board Meeting tonight was one for the record book. Half way through the agenda, an executive meeting was called and everyone was dismissed. Some of the members of Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government asked to be notified when the executive session was over...we waited outside the Kellogg Road Community Center.

When we were called back, we learned that item 2 under Attorney Green; Executive Session - Preswick Glen involved discussion of a new cost-sharing agreement between the town and county regarding paying Mr. Vincelette for litigation in respect to Preswick Glen. If you remember, back on August 23, I reported that during a meeting Ed Wiatr and I had with Mr. Gilligan, we learned that the school would no longer be paying 68% of Mr. Vincelette's cost to litigate the Preswick Glen lawsuit. By the way, Mr. D'Onforio who represents Oneida Legislative District 15, was in attendance during the Executive Session. It will be interesting to see what the new cost-sharing agreement between the town and county will involve.

Item #4 Attorney Green - Executive Session - DEC Consent Order supposedly was pulled. According to the town clerk it was not going to be discussed at tonight's executive session, although it was on the agenda handed out. Have I mentioned the bridge I have for sale lately? Or, could it be because it does not qualify as one of the eight (8) reasons for going to executive session? At any rate, it wasn't discussed in open meeting either so I guess it wasn't that important. Either that or...it was discussed and we just aren't privy to that information.

Item #5 Attorney Green - Executive Session - Town Office Space - supposedly had to do with either the purchase or lease of a building. Rumor has it (actually, it really isn't rumor, it is fact) that someone is in the process of purchasing 1 Oxford Crossing...(that address sound familiar?)and it is someone we would all probably know. I will have more on that in the future.

Councilman Waszkiewicz had an interesting item on the agenda...funny, but they never even got to Councilman Waszkiewicz's agenda items until after the executive session. I will bet that Councilman Waszkiewicz's item #5 on the agenda had something to do with it...they probably wanted to discuss it after everyone left.
Stormwater Improvement Committee - Clerk Office had identified 24 different references in the minutes over the last 12 months. Because of the magnitude, I feel we need to get Board's current consensus on whether meeting should be open or not.
A little history...The board formed an advisory committee to help develop drainage improvement plans to be implemented under the recently approved $2 million bond issue. Initially, it was to be open to the public, but now by a vote of 3 to 2; meetings for the Stormwater Committee are no longer open to the public. The nay votes were Supervisor Reed; Ward 1 Councilman Robert A. Payne, III and Ward 3 Councilman David Reynolds. Why would you close a meeting to the public when the purpose of the meeting is to discuss spending $2 million of taxpayer monies? This will be the topic of my next blog. Stay tuned!

There are several other items as well that I will be discussing regarding this town board meeting. It is time for change.

An Open Letter to ALL Residents & Taxpayers in the Town of New Hartford!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Agenda for the September 12, 2007 Town Board Meeting....

is now online.


Activate the Cone of Silence!


This is one meeting you don't want to miss! Look at the items under Attorney Green. Five (5) out of six (6) items are for Executive Session.

A. Attorney Green
1. Executive Session – Applewood Certorari
2. Executive Session – Preswick Glen
3. Executive Session – Assessor Appointment
4. Executive Session – DEC Consent Order
5. Executive Session – Town Office Space
6. Willowvale Fire Co., Inc.
I can't wait to hear how the Town Board stretches the law to make these Executive Session items. According to the Open Meetings Law, there are only eight (8) reasons that a subject can be discussed in Executive Session and one of the reasons would not be so that the town board can keep residents in the dark! The Town Board needs to be mindful that according to an Opinion from Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government:
More recently, the Appellate Division, Third Department, confirmed the advice rendered by the Committee and held that:

"...the public body must identify the subject matter to be discussed (See, Public Officers Law § 105 [1]), and it is apparent that this must be accomplished with some degree of particularity, i.e., merely reciting the statutory language is insufficient (see, Daily Gazette Co. v Town Bd., Town of Cobleskill, 111 Misc 2d 303, 304-305). Additionally, the topics discussed during the executive session must remain within the exceptions enumerated in the statute (see generally, Matter of Plattsburgh Publ. Co., Div. of Ottaway Newspapers v City of Plattsburgh, 185 AD2d §18), and these exceptions, in turn, 'must be narrowly scrutinized, lest the article's clear mandate be thwarted by thinly veiled references to the areas delineated thereunder' (Weatherwax v Town of Stony Point, 97 AD2d 840, 841, quoting Daily Gazette Co. v Town Bd., Town of Cobleskill, supra, at 304; see, Matter of Orange County Publs., Div. of Ottaway Newspapers v County of Orange, 120 AD2d 596, lv dismissed 68 NY 2d 807).
In other words, according to Mr. Freeman's Opinion letter, the reasons given for a subject to be discussed in Executive Session should be descriptive enough so that "members of a public body and others in attendance would have the ability to know that there is a proper basis for entry into an executive session". Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government will be watching!

Oh, and don't miss item #1 under D. New Business - FOIL appeal. Yup, that would be our second FOIL appeal to obtain the 2007 Assessments. Even though the Town Board (except for Councilman Robert A. Payne, III) passed a resolution on July 11, 2007 to give us the 2007 Tentative Assessment Roll, the assessor and/or some member(s) of the town board thought they would pull a fast one and give us a copy of the 2006 assessment database instead of the 2007 Tentative and a 2006 Final Roll instead of the 2007 Final Roll. The assessor was even willing to certify in writing that the disk we were given contained 2007 assessments--course he left himself a "loophole" in his certification. I will be giving you a full report on this in a day or two--must be something pretty special that they are trying to hide!

It is hard to believe that to date not one person on the Town Board has even responded to our email of August 24, 2007 or even reacted to the fact that the assessor has not complied with a board resolution. Instead we are forced to prepare yet another appeal. Add to that the fact that the assessor will sign his name to a piece of paper certifying that the information is indeed 2007 assessments when we know for a fact that they are not 2007 assessments (and we have even provided the town board with proof that they are not)...it's absolutely incredulous!

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Annual Town Budget...

Fall, a wonderful time of year...the geese start thinking about flying south, chill fills the air, the green leaves of Summer start to transform into a beautiful palette of autumn colors and the town department heads once again put together their "wish list".

Here's the schedule of events that lead to the creation of the Annual Town Budget:

On or before the twentieth day of September, Department Heads need to submit an estimate of revenues and expenditures for the ensuing year.

There is a review of the estimates...usually meetings are scheduled with the Department Heads to review the estimates.

After the review of all department budgets, the tentative budget is prepared.

On or before September 30th, the tentative budget is filed in the office of the town clerk, along with the budget message, if any, and the estimates and schedules.

The town clerk shall present the tentative budget to the town board at a regular or special meeting to be held on or before October 5th. The town board shall review the tentative budget and may make such changes, alterations and revisions as it shall consider advisable and which are consistent with law.

Upon the completion of such review, the tentative budget and any modifications thereof as approved by the town board, shall become the preliminary budget. The preliminary budget shall be filed in the office of the town clerk and the town clerk shall reproduce for public distribution as many copies as the town board may direct.


Public hearing. The town board shall hold a public hearing on the preliminary budget showing such changes, alterations and revisions as shall have been made therein by such board pursuant to subdivision three of section one hundred six of this chapter. Such hearing shall be held on or before the Thursday immediately following the general election...This year that would be by November 8, 2007. Notice of such public hearing shall be published at least once in the official newspaper and at least five days shall elapse between the date of the first publication of the notice and the date specified for the hearing. The hearing may be adjourned from day to day but not beyond November 15th. At such hearing, any person may be heard in favor of or against the preliminary budget as compiled or for or against any item or items therein contained.

After the public hearing, the town board may further change, alter and revise the preliminary budget. The preliminary budget as submitted or amended shall be finally adopted by resolution of the town board not later than November 20th. The preliminary budget as adopted shall be known as the annual budget for the town for the fiscal year beginning on the first day of January next succeeding, and it shall be entered in the minutes of the town board.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Just $1XX,XXX and a dream....

Yep,what will the figure be for the comptroller that the town is looking to hire?

Remember back on November 15, 2006, an article appeared in the Observer Dispatch, "New Hartford may share Comptroller with Whitestown"? Mr. Reed said and I quote from the article, "Maybe there's not quite enough work in one town, and it's something we will work on next year."

Back then the talk around town was that we would be "sharing" the comptroller with Whitestown and the cost would be about $35,000 for each town. The Comptroller was to work out of Joe Timpano's office down at Oneida County. (Well, that's good news! Mr. Timpano was the one who probably helped Sandy DePerno "find" $30,000 for Oneida County taxpayers!)

The news was so exciting about this "shared services" that the Observer Dispatch wrote a wonderful editorial on December 23, 2006 about how "Whitestown, N.H. sharing can be model". Great News--I'm touched and just in time for the Holidays!

Well, if you haven't heard, New Hartford is looking for a Comptroller. Candidates have until October 1, 2007 to respond with a resume. No mention of "sharing" the position with Whitestown in the job posting and no mention of working out of Joe Timpano's office either. Maybe that will be (or already has been, as the case may be) discussed with the prospective employee. Actually, for that matter, I haven't seen a town board vote and resolution approving a Shared Services Agreement as of yet.

Qualifications? CPA or CPA candidate with strong governmental experience. Experience with Grant and Economic Development Agencies is desired. Salary commensurate with experience and qualifications, yah-dah, yah-dah. Now just where will we find someone to fit that bill? Rumor has it that.....

And just how did we go from "not enough work for one town" to what appears to be a full-time position in the Town of New Hartford? By the way, just what will Carol Fairbrother be doing with her time...looks like the comptroller is taking over her responsibilities!

If you hurry, you can still apply..course they probably already have someone in mind...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Times, They Are A-Changin...

If you read my blog regularly, you will remember that back in March 2007, Jerry Green, New Hartford Town Attorney and Chairman of the New Hartford Republican Committee placed a phone call to Ed Wiatr who was contemplating running for Ward 2 Councilman to replace J.C. Waszkiewicz who has decided not to run for another term. The Republican Screening Committee was scheduled to meet on March 13, 2007 to make their selection. You can read my March blog here.

Mr. Wiatr was not at home when Mr. Green called him on March 9, 2007 (4 days before the Republican Committee was even scheduled to meet), so Mr. Green decided to leave a message on Mr. Wiatr's answering machine. Here is Mr. Green's message on Ed Wiatr's answering machine. This is a wmv file and you will need Windows Media Player. On this tape, Mr. Green informed Mr. Wiatr that the Republican Committee already had their candidate; but Mr. Wiatr was welcome to screen. Well, wouldn't that be an effort in futility?

The "chosen" is Christine Krupa from New York Mills. I don't know her personally, but it is kind of an ominous sign that she was "chosen" before the screening even took place, don't you think? Then, again, this Republican Party seems to do everything Back-Assword. Don't get me wrong, I am a life-long Republican, but lately after some of the "shenanigans" this administration has pulled, I prefer to vote for the person, and what they bring to the table, not necessarily the Party "chosen".

Russ Cerminaro, who has been endorsed by Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government, also wanted to be screened by the Republican Committee. However, Mr. Green never even bothered answering Mr. Cerminaro's several phone calls. Mr. Cerminaro told Mr. Green's secretary exactly why he needed to speak to Mr. Green. I guess once you pick your "candidate", screening isn't all that important--at least it's not important to the New Hartford Republican Committee!

Mr. Cerminaro, who truly wants to represent Ward 2 residents, and members of Concerned Citizens worked hard, visited many homes and talked to residents. In the end, although we only needed 75 signatures to qualify for the Republican Primary, we garnered over 200 signatures of registered Republicans. Mr. Cerminaro (who actually visited and collected 140 signatures just by himself) will now be a Republican candidate for Ward 2 Councilman in the upcoming Republican Primary on September 18, 2007. Ms. Christine Krupa, the "chosen" Republican candidate, only bothered to collect 24 signatures herself with 120 signatures being collected with the help of the Republican Committee people. Of the remaining 120 signatures, 20 of the people who signed her petitions did not even live in Ward 2. A 'no-no' since only registered voters in Ward 2 can sign the petition, a fact that Mr. Green as town attorney and Republican Party Chairman should have been well aware of when he submitted Ms. Krupa's petitions to the Board of Elections. Mr. Cerminaro challenged those illegal signatures and they were ultimately thrown out by the Board of Elections.

After collecting over 200 signatures to get Mr. Cerminaro in the Republican Primary, Russ Cerminaro and Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government collected over 200 additional signatures (114 signatures were required without regard to party affiliation) of registered voters in Ward 2. As a result, we have now created the Concerned Citizens party line for the November 6, 2007 General Election in the Town of New Hartford because we strongly believe that residents deserve a choice in matters of town government.

As a member of Concerned Citizens, Russ believes in honest and open government. Russ has a website where you can view his Platform for Change or send Russ an email.

This November 6, 2007, regardless of your party affiliation, ALL registered voters in the Town of New Hartford - Ward 2 will have a choice as to who will represent them on the New Hartford Town Board. There is no Democratic candidate for Ward 2 Councilman. We urge all voters in Ward 2 to vote for Russ Cerminaro on the Concerned Citizen line this November. Show New Hartford politicians that enough is enough!

Please vote for Russ Cerminaro in the Republican Primary, September 18, 2007

and

Remember in the November 6, 2007 General Election
Vote for Russ Cerminaro on the CONCERNED CITIZENS Party line!