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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Psst! Can you keep a secret?

Once again, back to the December 12, 2007 town board meeting. According to the minutes:
"the meeting commenced at 6:00 p.m. and at 6:43p.m. an Executive Session was called "to discuss potential litigation under a contract with the New York Susquehanna & Western Railroad."
"...the Executive Session ended at 7:20 P.M. The regular portion of the Town Board meeting was immediately reconvened."
Everyone's gone...time to pass a resolution:
Retention of Professional Services – Land Acquisition
The following Resolution was introduced for adoption by Councilman Payne and duly seconded by Councilwoman Krupa:

(RESOLUTION NO. 316 OF 2007)

RESOLVED that the New Hartford Town Board does hereby authorize the retention of legal, architectural and appraisal services for the possible purchase of real estate.

A roll call vote ensued:

Councilwoman Krupa - Aye
Councilman Reynolds - Aye
Councilman Woodland - Aye
Councilman Payne - Aye
Supervisor Reed - Aye.

The Supervisor then declared the Resolution unanimously carried and duly ADOPTED.
Strange, that wasn't one of the items that that was supposedly discussed in Executive Session...wonder why they didn't just discuss it BEFORE the executive session.Concerned Citizens thinks it is because they didn't want any questions from the "peanut gallery" and they probably didn't want it to get printed in the Observer Dispatch.

By law, the town board can not vote to spend taxpayer dollars out of the public view; that would be a violation of the Open Meetings Law:
:§105. Conduct of executive sessions. 1. Upon a majority vote of its total membership, taken in an open meeting pursuant to a motion identifying the general area or areas of the subject or subjects to be considered, a public body may conduct an executive session for the below enumerated purposes only, provided, however, that no action by formal vote shall be taken to appropriate public moneys...
But...there is ONE (1) way to pass a resolution to spend money and keep it a secret, they have to plan to do it after the public is other words, after the Executive Session...when hopefully everyone has left. Not exactly illegal, but clearly not OPEN GOVERNMENT.

Here is the information behind the town board's vote to retain legal, architectural and appraisal services for the possible purchase of real estate:
December 12, 2007
Page 20

Building Committee - Update
At the request of the Town Board, N. Joseph Yagey had put together a Committee consisting of Planning Board Chairman Hans G. Arnold, Town Police Chief Raymond Philo, Councilman Reynolds and himself. The Committee has reviewed numerous proposals that had been prepared for Town offices, dating back to the early 1990’s, keeping in mind the importance of:

• Location
• Size of facility to accomplish what needs to be done
• Affordable dollars

The Committee is nearly ready to submit a final recommendation of what they believe would accommodate and how to reconfigure current departments. Mr. Yagey referenced a recent court facility inspection by the Office of Court Administration – Chief Philo stated that with recent statutory changes, the courts can no longer use the hallways for a general waiting area for customers because it interferes with recording devices for court. “So we’ve lost that space,” he commented.

Edmund Wiatr, Jr. inquired who had custody of the study. The Town will get back to Mr. Wiatr on how he can obtain access to the Office of Court Administration study; this is not a town record.

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