We can tell you that there is evidence that the town board knew about the problem for months and more than likely they were aware of their problems for a couple of years. Concerned Citizens FOILed all of Town Attorney Green's invoices from 2006 through February 2009. A lot can be gleaned from looking at them. One invoice submitted to the town by Attorney Green was of particular interest. It reads:
05/31/07 Meeting with Fairbrother re: check for Kavod Rd., accounting/bookkeeping concerns. (9:00-9:30)Ms. Fairbrother is the appointed town bookkeeper who received over $71,000 in overtime that was not due her. Why would the town bookkeeper go to the town attorney for bookkeeping/accounting concerns when her direct supervisor is Earle Reed? Shouldn't Ms. Fairbrother have approached Earle Reed first with any problems concerning the financials of the town? Why was Ms. Fairbrother paid overtime when she clearly was not entitled to overtime or compensatory time because she is an exempt Civil Service employee who was appointed rather than hired by taking a Civil Service exam?
By Town Law, Supervisor Reed is responsible for the fiscal operations of the town. Was Frank Basile's CPA firm hired in August 2007, shortly after Ms. Fairbrother's visit to the town attorney, to fix a mess or cover-up problems when Earle Reed had no idea what to do?
Several hints of the financial problems plaguing the current town board have been given at town board meetings over the past few months. For example, there is no money for Highway paving in the 2009 Adopted Budget where normally $300,000 is made available. There is no money for new town highway equipment in the 2009 budget where normally a minimum of $300,000 is budgeted. Often times, Earle Reed has made inferences during town board meetings that there are budgetary problems. For Earle Reed to say:
“We are distressed about the situation, but we are on top of it,” he said. “I don’t think anyone visualized the meltdown of the economy. It’s affected us, but we still have to maintain basic services.”Supervisor Reed, you are distressed...that is hardly the word for the way that the majority of town residents feel...pissed is more like it! Meltdown of the economy...you have to be kidding! There was no meltdown of the economy in 2006, 2007 or early 2008. Even when the economy started failing, the New Hartford Town Board adopted a 2009 budget with far more anticipated sales tax then they could ever hope to get in a good year, let alone a year of declining retail sales. This was done in a apparent attempt to keep the 2009 tax rate down so that the bonding for development of Larry Adler's business park would be passed by the voters. Supervisor Reed do you call this being "on top of it"?
Three members of this town board are up for re-election in November 2009; Reed, Reynolds and Payne...all Republicans. To think they will resign before November is hopeful, but doubtful. However, to expect them to not run again is not out of the question. The Republican Party needs to find qualified people to run in November and not back the current regime just because Town Attorney Green is the chairman of the New Hartford Republican Committee...to give the backing of the party to these same people is not in the best interest of the town or representative of the wishes of the majority of registered Republicans. And just because this is a Republican town doesn't mean that the Democrats, Conservatives or any other party that puts up a candidate can't win the election.
It's time for a change starting from the top down!