According to documents found on the NYS Education Dept. website a lease cannot include "the costs of heat, electricity, water or other utilities or the costs of operation or maintenance of the leased facility." So the rising costs of maintenance and utilities can't be used as an excuse for such a sharp increase in rent.
As a matter of fact, the same document states that an attorney representing the board of education must certify that these costs are not included; and that certification must be provided to the NYS Education Commissioner prior to the lease being approved by the Commissioner.
The attorney for the board of education also must certify that:
voter approval has been obtained where required by law (a) for a lease that is longer than five (5) years; (b) in the case of renewals; and (c) for any capital project to be undertaken in a leased building or facility;The attorney also must certify that:
the lease does not include an option to buy; the lease includes a provision that the lease shall be void and unenforceable if entered into in violation of section 801 of the General Municipal Law or section 410 of the Education Law.Section 801 of the General Municipal Law and section 410 of the Education Law are pertaining to conflicts of interest.
So who is the attorney for the board and did he/she provide such certification to the NYS Education Commissioner? If certification was provided, may we see a copy of that signed and dated certification?
We would like an explanation as to why taxpayers have been paying so much for a lease that was, according to news accounts, signed for $1,330 a month or $15,960 a year and is now costing taxpayers $28,000 a year.
Taxpayers deserve to know the facts before they agree to spend one more penny on property that is almost 100 years old and "may" have environmental issues.
On April 23, 2012, Edmund J. Wiatr, Jr., a candidate for NH school board, FOILed several documents including the lease for 29 Oxford Road. A copy of his FOIL request was sent to both Superintendent Nole and Aurelia Greico, the school board clerk.
On Friday, April 27, 2012, Mr. Wiatr received the following email:
April 27, 2012Perhaps, Ms. Greico, who apparently is Records Access Officer; Athletic Dept. Assistant; AND District Clerk should spend some time on the Freedom of Information Law; her response is a blatant disregard of the Freedom of Information Law.
Dear Mr. Wiatr:
On, Monday, April 23, 2012 this office received your request for records.
Consistent with Section 89 of the New York Public Officers Law, the District hereby acknowledges receipt of that request. Access to the requested records will be determined in accordance with this section of the law and the determination will be made within 20 business days (May 21, 2012).
If we are unable to make that determination within that time, you will be notified of the same and of the date by which the request will be granted in whole or in part.
Aurelia R. Greico
Records Access Officer
Aurelia "Re" Greico
Athletic Dept. Assistant
New Hartford Central School District
33 Oxford Rd.
New Hartford, NY 13413
(315) 624-1296 - Fax (315) 624-1334
According to an Opinion Letter from Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government:
Based on the foregoing, an agency must grant access to records, deny access in writing, or acknowledge the receipt of a request within five business days of receipt of a request. When an acknowledgement is given, it must include an approximate date within twenty business days indicating when it can be anticipated that a request will be granted or denied. If it is known that circumstances prevent the agency from granting access within twenty business days, or if the agency cannot grant access by the approximate date given and needs more than twenty business days to grant access, however, it must provide a written explanation of its inability to do so and a specific date by which it will grant access. That date must be reasonable in consideration of the circumstances of the request.Here is Mr. Freeman's entire Opinion Letter dated May 5, 2006.
The amendments clearly are intended to prohibit agencies from unnecessarily delaying disclosure. They are not intended to permit agencies to wait until the fifth business day following the receipt of a request and then twenty additional business days to determine rights of access, unless it is reasonable to do so based upon "the circumstances of the request." It is our perspective that every law must be implemented in a manner that gives reasonable effect to its intent, and we point out that in its statement of legislative intent, §84 of the Freedom of Information Law states that "it is incumbent upon the state and its localities to extend public accountability wherever and whenever feasible." Therefore, when records are clearly available to the public under the Freedom of Information Law, or if they are readily retrievable, there may be no basis for a delay in disclosure.
Access will be determined by May 21st...a week after the school vote...for documents that should be readily available in their files??? What are they hiding???
There's more...stay tuned!