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Monday, June 25, 2012

What will a School District Library Budget look like??

We videotaped the June 20, 2012 Library Board of Trustees meeting that was held at noon in Butler Hall.

Below is the video showing the portion of the June 20th meeting. Trustee Cunningham, the library treasurer, gave a presentation titled, "Voice of the Resident's Budget", detailing the proposed budget for October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014 if the vote is favorable to re-charter as a school district library.

If the vote is not favorable, they will need to either look for additional funding or reduce their budget to an amount set by the town board at budget time.

We also prepared a spreadsheet comparing their present budget with their proposed budget as a school district library:


Click here for a full page view of our spreadsheet.

The budget they proposed will not be in effect until October 1, 2013 when next year's school tax bills are paid; therefore, ALL Town of New Hartford residents including NYM and Chadwicks will still be taxed for library expenses on the 2013 town budget.

According to Treasurer Earl Cunningham, the budget includes 10% pay raises for all employees because they deserve it. It also includes a pay increase of $20,000 for the library director; $10,000 extra for the assistant and 2 new full-time employees.

Trustee Wiatr questioned the payment of 100% health benefits for library employees. Mr. Cunningham replied giving an example that you can't ask someone making $22,672 a year to contribute to their health costs...that would take a lot of nerve.

Another area of concern for Trustee Wiatr was that library employees are paid to come to work one hour early to open the library. Of course, other library trustees had an answer for everything Trustee Wiatr had to say regarding his concerns over the budget increases.

It's all on the videotape. We encourage New Hartford Central School District taxpayers to view this videotape to get a clear understanding of the proposed budget that will be put before district voters on August 23, 2012.

According to Board President Linda Romano, she has been working with Supervisor Tyksinski for assurances that the $400,000 currently in the town budget for the library will not be spent on other items, but will instead be taken out of the 2014 town budget. [Psst...are you buying this?

Here is the video portion of the June 20, 2012 Library Board of Trustee's meeting regarding re-chartering:



At least one person in New Hartford [other than 99% of the library trustees] feels that the proposed almost $1,000,000 library budget is actually inadequate to meet the needs of the community. He warned the library trustees to think about their future needs. Shortly, we will be showing that excerpt from the May library board meeting. We are waiting for some FOILed documents.

The next meeting that normally would have been held at 7:00 p.m. on July 18, 2012, has been rescheduled for noon that same day. The August meeting has been cancelled. So much for an effective public relations campaign. Tick, tock...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Advantages of a School District Library...according to the NYS Education Dept.

Earlier today, "Real Deal" commented on our blog, A Gentlemen's Agreement... as follows:
By re-chartering as a School District Public Library, a library may be able to expand its service area, resulting in an expansion of its tax base.

New Hartford Residents will be approving all future budgets by votes and can increase their funding by expanding their tax base to other communities. Go to the website and READ the facts. Be prov acted [we think they mean proactive] in finding out the details.
Our first thought was...it's not the job of taxpayers to educate themselves about the plan to tax only New Hartford Central School District residents for a $1,000,000 library budget, but rather the library trustees should be open and make the information available to taxpayers well in advance of the referendum so they can then make an informed decision on August 23, 2012.

For months, certain members of this library board have met behind closed doors in total disregard of the Open Meetings Law to discuss their "plans" to increase their funding by re-chartering as a school district library. The have openly stated that meetings have been held in private, not even letting certain library trustees aware of when and where these meeings are being held.

But, our second thought was...WHY NOT? Why not let people know what the NYS Education touts as advantages.

The Board of Regents has general supervision of all educational activities to include all elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educational institutions, libraries, museums, public broadcasting, records and archives, professions, Adult Career and Continuing Education Services, and such other institutions, organizations, and agencies as may be admitted to The University.

So, according to the NYS Education website, here are the "advantages" in "black print"; our comments are in "red print".

Advantages of the School District Public Library Model

By re-chartering as a School District Public Library, a library may be able to expand its service area, resulting in an expansion of its tax base. This may also reduce the number of unserved areas within the State.

This might be true in some school districts like Whitesboro that includes many towns in their district; however, New Hartford Central School District primarily serves residents in the Town and Village of New Hartford (7,411 parcels), plus 42 parcels in the Town of Paris; 76 parcels in the Town of Kirkland; and 158 in the Town of Frankfort.


This option provides an opportunity to develop equity in tax support for the library.

Really?  How is there equity when only New Hartford Central School District taxpayers will be taxed for this $1,000,000 library vs. the $400,000 that ALL town residents are presently being taxed.

The latest report of the New Hartford Public Library states that 25% of their users are from outside the service area.


This may address situations in which people who live within the library's chartered service area (a town or a village) are paying higher taxes to support the library than people who live just outside the chartered service area.

Again, this is not true with the New Hartford Central School District.


School District Public Libraries have the ability to raise funds for capital projects by directing the school board to place a bonding resolution on the ballot.

Hold on to your wallets for this one!

The library trustees have already voted to deed the library land and building to the school district if they become a school district library...a necessary step in order for the school district to be able to bond on behalf of the library.

Currently, the land and building are owned by the New Hartford Public Library Board of Trustees...not the taxpayers.


Although the school board determines the time and place for the initial election to create and fund a School District Public Library, the new library board has the authority to set the time and place for future elections. Most are held within the library.

Got news for everyone...the vote to become a school district library with a budget of almost $1,000,000 will be held in the library on August 23, 2012 and is being paid for by the New Hartford Central School District.


Once an annual budget to fund a School District Public Library is approved by voters, funding will remain at the same level until the library board requests a change by placing a new proposition before the voters. There is no mechanism that would permit a proposition without library board approval to be placed on the ballot to reduce the amount of funding for the library.

So this should make taxpayers in the New Hartford Central School District happy???

Library Trustee and Treasurer, Earl Cunningham gave a presentation in support of their almost $1,000,000 budget at the June 20, 2012 Library board meeting which was held at noon in Butler Hall. We will be posting that video on Monday.

One other item on the same page of the NYS Education website as the "advantages" outlined above says:
The effort to seek public support to create and fund a library requires a firm commitment on the part of the library board and the director as well as a strong education & advocacy campaign. [emphasis added by blogger]
The latest timeline put out by the New Hartford Public Library trustees says that they will be sending a press release to the paper on August 1, 2012 regarding the vote to be held on August 23, 2012.

About three (3) weeks notice to the New Hartford Central School District taxpayers for a vote to be held in the library two weeks before the end of August...a time when most people are either on vacation; getting ready to go on vacation for the Labor Day holiday; or busy getting children ready to start school.

Furthermore, library card holder names and addresses have been given to a third party to be used to garner support of their proposal with total disregard to NYS Civil Practice Law § 4509 that says:
Library records.

Library records, which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, free association, school, college and university libraries and library systems of this state, including but not limited to records related to the circulation of library materials, computer database searches, interlibrary loan transactions, reference queries, requests for photocopies of library materials, title reserve requests, or the use of audio-visual materials, films or records, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except that such records may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of such library and shall be disclosed upon request or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena, court order or where otherwise required by statute.
They even held up the papers containing the names and addresses of library patrons at a recent library board meeting and said they were being passed along to someone who is not in any way connected to the library! It's all on videotape.

Shameful...truly shameful!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Definitions...

In the Town of New Hartford Codes is a section under Zoning titled Definitions and Word Usage.
Article II. Definitions and Word Usage

§ 118-5. Interpretation of terms; word usage.

A. Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall, for the purposes of this chapter, have the meanings herein indicated. Words used in the present tense include the future; the singular number includes the plural and the plural number includes the singular; the word "lot" includes the word "plot"; the word "structure" includes the word "building." The term "occupied" or "used" as applied to any given building or land shall be construed to include "arranged," "designed," "constructed," "altered," "converted," "rented," "leased" or "intended to be used or occupied."

B. Unless otherwise specified, all distances shall be measured horizontally. Elevations shall be measured vertically.

C. The words "shall" and "must" are mandatory and not optional. [emphasis added by this blogger]
According to the ZBA agenda, Mr. Adler's is requesting an interpretation for an accessory use under Retail Use:
The application of Mr. Larry Adler of New Hartford Office Group, LLC, for an Interpretation as to whether or not gasoline pumps are accessory to a retail use [emphasis added by this blogger]. Property location: State Route 5 (Seneca Turnpike) and Woods Highway. Tax Map #328.00037; Total Lot Size: 20.5 Acres; Zoning: Planned Highway Business.
The problem is, after reading the definitions in the town's zoning law, it would appear that Retail use does not include gas pumps in ANY district.

Here is the definition of Retail according to the Town of New Hartford Zoning Code:
RETAIL STORE Any building where the primary occupation is the sale of merchandise in small quantities, not for resale. Retail sales establishments shall not be interpreted to include automobile-oriented uses [emphasis added by this blogger], convenience stores and service establishments.
We looked to see the definition of gas pumps/station in town code to determine if they were considered automobile-oriented uses:
GASOLINE STATION See "automobile service station."
That led us to:
AUTOMOBILE SERVICE STATION A parcel or building thereon where gasoline or any other automobile engine fuel, kerosene, motor oil, lubricants, grease (for operation of motor vehicles) or minor accessories are retailed directly to the public on the premises and where the servicing or minor mechanical repair of motor vehicles or installation of mufflers or other specialty items may occur. Automobile service stations shall not include the sale or storage of automobiles or trailers (new or used). An automobile service station is also known as a "gasoline station."[emphasis added by this blogger]
With that in mind...does a BJ's Wholesale or Costco or whatever even qualify as a Retail use if it has gas pumps?

Remember according to the definitions the use of the word "shall" are mandatory...not optional. The meaning of Retail is shall not include automobile-oriented uses.

Taking it one step further...according to Monro Muffler's website, "A few Monro Muffler Brake & Service stores are located within BJ Wholesale Club Tire Centers" where they do automobile repair.

Now that leads us back to the fact that Mr. Adler did not apply for a building permit, therefore, we have no idea what is planned at that location nor does the Zoning Board of Appeals. Are there plans for a Monro Muffler & Repair within their Tire Center as well as gas pumps at that location?

The way we read Town Code, neither use is allowed under Retail. Town code is clear that "Retail" does not include automotive-oriented uses, i.e. gas pumps. How then could gas pumps possibly be an accessory use to a Retail Use?

Perhaps it is true as stated in the August 20, 2007 Planning Board minutes; the Comprehensive Plan of 1995 took into account all feasible uses and gas stations were not considered suitable for this zone.

Unfortunately, in the Planned Highway Business District, there is no other use that would fit in with Mr. Adler's "proposed plan".

No matter how you slice it, whether you rely on previous town board and planning board minutes or you rely on the definitions found in the Town of New Hartford Code, Mr. Adler will either have to ask the ZBA for a use permit or go before the town board for a zone text amendment. For the Zoning Board of Appeals to proceed otherwise would be "arbitrary and capricious".

We will have to wait to see what the decision is on July 16, 2012. The meeting will start at 6:00 p.m. and we will be there videotaping.

In the meantime, here is the videotape of Part 1 of Mr. Adler's interpretation request in front of the ZBA.

Special Town Board Meeting Tonight...

A Special Town Board Meeting will be held tonight, Thursday, June 21, 2012 starting at 7:00 p.m. in Butler Memorial Hall.

Items to be discussed:
-Insurance

-LOCAL LAW "G" - Police Commission

-LOCAL LAW "H" - Zoning Map Amendment for 129 Oxford Road

-Miscellaneous

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interpretations...

So if a person DOES file an application for a building permit and is refused a permit by the Codes Enforcement Officer, what is next?

Everyone has the right to file an application with the Zoning Board of Appeals [ZBA] if they have been denied a building permit. The ZBA's responsibility is to review ALL records [to include the building permit application] before making their decision so as to not appear to be 'arbitrary and capricious' in their decision. The ZBA can "reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the order, requirement, decision, interpretation or determination appealed from", but it cannot amend zoning regulations.

So what is the role of the ZBA regarding interpretations? According to the NYS Dept. of State:
The Court of Appeals has held that a zoning board of appeals performs a “quasi-judicial” function when it renders an interpretation of a zoning provision, and, as such, should act according to its own precedent.
We checked ZBA minutes for the last few years and could find no ruling made by the ZBA to allow gasoline pumps as a permitted use, accessory or otherwise, in a Planned Highway Business Zone.

According to the Dept. of State:
Where there are no prior ZBA decisions to rely on, the board of appeals should attempt to determine the governing board’s original intent in enacting the provision in question. In arriving at this determination the board should consider prior documentation such as: minutes of governing board meetings; testimony of local officials; and planning advisory documents which may have accompanied the enactment.
So in other words, they should look to decisions made by the town board and planning board.

It just so happens that at the March 5, 2003 town board meeting, a zone text amendment to include gasoline stations and self-storage units as a special permit use in the Planned Highway Business District was introduced and sent out to Oneida County Planning Department and to the Town Planning Board for their review and written recommendation.

On May 7, 2003, a Public Hearing was held in Butler Hall.

According to those minutes:
Councilman Butler stated that the Town had a GEIS done for the Seneca Turnpike-Commercial Drive corridor, with input from the police, highway, county agencies, etc. and they did not include gasoline stations and self-storage units in the Planned Highway Business (PHB) districts. The Town also has rezoned the Seneca Turnpike area and a private consultant reviewed the zoning for the Town and did not recommend these uses in PHB districts. The Town Planning Board did a 239-review this Spring and recommended storage units in a PHB district, but not gasoline stations. Councilman Butler didn’t think the Town Board should overlook professional planners recommendations.
The result...Local Law Introductory No. "B" (As Amended) of 2003 was declared DEFEATED.

THEN...

On April 9, 2008, a Public Hearing was held for LAW INTRODUCTORY “A” OF 2008 to allow convenience stores (with or without gasoline service), as a site plan use or special permit.

According to those minutes:
• Town Board received the Town Planning Board recommendation in January 2008 not to endorse this proposal.
• Town Planner Schwenzfeier stated that during the 1995 comprehensive plan process for rezoning, PHB districts were for more professional office uses
Those in attendance spoke out against the proposed amendment and a show of hands indicated that only the  five (5) people who involved with the request were in favor; 35-40 people raised their hands against.

According to the town board minutes:
After further speaking with his client, Mr. Ehre stated that rather than the Town Board vote and go through this process, Mr. Ahn withdraws his application for a Zoning Law text amendment.

ALSO:

According to the August 20, 2007 Planning Board minutes:
A former town plannning board member stated that gas stations were purposely omitted from this zone and Public Hearings were held when this zone was created.

Chairman Arnold referred to memorandums from the Codes Office where they referred to the Comprehensive Plan of 1995 which took into account all feasible uses and gas stations were not considered suitable for this zone. The intent of this zone was to use the guidelines for a Professional Office zone and they also referred to an application previously at the Town Board meeting of May 7, 2003 where a similar but not identical use was suggested and defeated (these memorandums are a part of the file).

Chairman Arnold feels this Board needs to look at every piece of property zoned Planned Highway Business, not just one property. He further stated that the Town Board has asked the Planning Board to be Lead Agency on this.
The record of the governing board is clear, although it appeared that none of this information was provided to the ZBA members prior to or at the June 18, 2012 ZBA meeting.

Now let's look at § 118-11. Application of regulations of the Town of New Hartford Code:
H. Within each district, the regulations set forth by this chapter shall be considered minimum regulations and shall apply uniformly to each kind of building, structure or land.

I. Only those uses specifically identified as permitted principal uses, permitted accessory uses, permitted special use permit uses and permitted site plan review uses shall be permissible in their respective zoning districts. All other uses are expressly prohibited unless granted a use variance by the Zoning Board of Appeals, pursuant to Article XIII.
We found no language in the town code that allows gasoline pumps as an accessory use in a Planned Highway Business District.

It is important to note, the decision of the ZBA will not only affect Mr. Adler's property, but it will affect the entire PHB District. There are 4 areas in that district:
One (1) at French and Burrstone Roads

One (1) starts on Seneca Turnpike, at the Killabrew property westerly to the Sangertown Square Mall property

One (1) starts on Seneca Turnpike, at the intersection of Middlesettlement Road, westerly to Seneca Mobile Manor

One (1) starts on Seneca Turnpike, west of Homestead Road West to the Kirkland town boundary
Mr. Adler's counsel asserted several times that our town code is old and was enacted before wholesale clubs were popular...that is baloney.

For one thing, according to the web, wholesale clubs gained popularity about 1984; the same year the Codes Officer gave in response to when our codes were written. The GEIS for that area was done in 1995 and did not include any language to allow gas pumps in the PHB.

The fact that the codes are old and need updating is not within the authority of the Zoning Board of Appeals to determine. In reading the booklet provided by the NYS Dept. of State, it would appear that the ZBA does not have the authority to override the previous record established by the town board and the recommendation of the Planning Board in what appears to be an effort to re-write town code for an entire district. They are not a legislative board; that is the responsibility of the town board.

Mr. Adler should either apply to the ZBA for a use variance for the proposed site, or once again approach the town board for a zone text amendment to change town code for all property within the Planned Highway District which would involve a local law with a Public Hearing.

The ZBA will meet again on July 16, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. regarding Mr. Adler's interpretation request.

Oh, and we have one last question...to be continued.

Looking for an explanation...

regarding Larry Adler's request for an interpretation.

On the agenda for the Monday, June 18, 2012 Zoning Board of Appeals was this:
The application of Mr. Larry Adler of New Hartford Office Group, LLC, for an Interpretation as to whether or not gasoline pumps are accessory to a retail use. Property location: State Route 5 (Seneca Turnpike) and Woods Highway. Tax Map #328.00037; Total Lot Size: 20.5 Acres; Zoning: Planned Highway Business.
According to Mr. Adler's attorney, gas pumps are an accessory use/building for a BJ's Wholesale. However, when asked if it would specifically be a BJ's Wholesale, Mr. Adler was non-specific stating that it might be a BJ's or it could be a Costco, or it could be this or it might be that.

Naturally, our first thought as we listened and videotaped was to see what their building permit application said it was going to be.

But, alas, just as we suspected...Larry did not file a building permit according to the Codes Office when we called today. Huh?

According to a document, "Zoning Board of Appeals", from the NYS Dept. of State:
...the board of appeals is an appellate body primarily; the statutes say it must be. Unless specifically granted to it, it has no original jurisdiction.
[*Note of explanation by this blogger: The Town of New Hartford Zoning Board of Appeals has no original jurisdiction, meaning it has no powers to legislate granted to it by New Hartford Town Code.]

It is limited to “hearing and deciding appeals from and reviewing any order, requirement, decision, interpretation or determination made by the administrative official charged with enforcement of any [zoning ordinance or local law].”

Thus, in a case in which the parties to a dispute appeared before a board of appeals for its interpretation of the terms of a zoning ordinance, without having applied for a permit, been denied the permit and then appealed it, the court declared the findings of the board null and void.
The document continues regarding a court case, Kaufman v. City of Glen Cove, 180 Misc. 349 (Sup. Ct., Nassau Co., 1943), aff’d 266 A.D. 870 (2d Dept., 1943, the court stated:
"In other words, in the absence of an application to the building inspector for a building permit or certificate of occupancy, in the absence of a denial of such application by him on the ground that the proposed use violates the Zone Ordinance, and in the absence of an appeal from such decision to the board of appeals, the board has no jurisdiction or power to make any ruling or declaratory judgment as to the meaning of any provision of the ordinance."
In fact, Town of New Hartford Code says:
§ 65-4. Building/site grading permits.

A. Building and/or site grading permits required.

Except as otherwise provided in Subsection B of this section, a building and/or site grading permit shall be required for any work which must conform to the Uniform Code, the Energy Code and/or the Code of the Town of New Hartford, including, but not limited to, the construction, enlargement, alteration, improvement, removal, relocation or demolition of any building or structure or any portion thereof, and the installation of a solid-fuel-burning heating appliance, chimney or flue in any dwelling unit. Additionally, a building and/or site grading permit is required for installation of all fences, installation of retaining walls exceeding five feet in height, excavation, grading and clearing for any building or use. No person shall commence any work for which a building/site grading permit is required without first having obtained a building/site grading permit from the Code Enforcement Officer.

B. The Officer shall act upon all applications for building/site grading permits within 30 days. Notice of refusal to issue any permit shall be given to the applicant or to his or her authorized representative in writing and shall state the reasons for such refusal. [emphasis added by this blogger]
So if he didn't file a building permit, was Mr. Adler really denied the accessory use or was it just a talk with the Codes Department that he was appealing?

Absent an application for a building permit, how did the aforementioned item appear on the agenda for Monday's Zoning Board meeting?

And absent a building permit, how can the Zoning Board of Appeals know if it truly is an accessory use? An accessory use to what???

It would appear that Larry just wants the Zoning Board to have on record that gas pumps are an accessory use in the Planned Highway Business District irrespective of the principal use, but what are the consequences of that ruling and does the Zoning Board of Appeals really have the authority to make that decision?

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Town Board Meeting tonight...

starting at 7:00 p.m. in Butler Hall. Agenda now online!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Hartford Public Library Re-chartering...Here's their numbers...

At the May 23, 2012 Library Trustee Meeting, Trustee and Treasurer Earl Cunningham presented the library board with a spreadsheet detailing the amount an owner of a $150,000 home could expect to pay if the New Hartford Public Library becomes a school library:

According to Mr. Cunningham's spreadsheet, all homes in the New Hartford Central School District with an assessed value of $150,000 [which is typically used as an average assessed value in New Hartford] will pay about $83 a year regardless if they live in New Hartford, Kirkland, Paris or Frankfort.

...NEXT,

here is our spreadsheet:


Our spreadsheet tells a very different story than the one provided by the library...we have the real story, unlike their spreadsheet.

Where they came up with an across the board $83 a year is anyone's guess. Common sense says that is not possible. It might be true in a perfect world where every town is assessed at 100% of market value...but this isn't a perfect world.

According to our spreadsheet, the owner of a $150,000 home in New Hartford will pay about $99; Town of Paris will pay $83; Kirkland will pay about $128; and Frankfort will pay about $111.

Of course, your particular assessed value will determine the amount of Library Tax that will be on your 2013-2014 New Hartford Central School tax bill in September 2013 if the vote is affirmative to re-charter as a school district library.

As a note, these numbers are based on the current Town Tax Roll and the actual tax for the library, if re-chartering as a school library is passed, will be assessed using the 2013 tax roll.

We agree with Mr. Cunningham's calculations for the tax rate per thousand for each town...New Hartford is $.66 a thousand of assessed value; Paris is $.55 a thousand of assessed value; Kirkland's is $.85 per thousand; and Frankfort's is $.74 a thousand of assessed value.

However, it stands to reason that if the tax rate per thousand in each town is different; there is no way every house assessed for $150,000 would pay the same in each town.

The library tax would work very much like the Oneida County tax because not all municipalities are assessed at 100% of market value.

To figure the tax rate for each town, all assessments are equalized [or brought to their market value] based on the equalization rate of each town; then the tax rate per thousand for each town is figured by dividing the tax levy by the true assessed value of each town. From there, the amount of Oneida County taxes each resident pays is based on the tax rate for their town times their individual property assessment. The library tax would be figured the same way.

If New Hartford Public Library becomes a school library, residents in Frankfort and Kirkland who attend NHCS will actually PAY MORE on their school tax bill to fund the New Hartford Public Library than New Hartford residents with the same assessed value will pay!

One last thing, unlike the school taxes, STAR will not play a part in reducing the assessment used to calculate your library tax. According to Volume 10 - Opinions of Counsel SBRPS No. 59:
Given that at least some libraries are funded through taxes or special district charges other than the school tax, it would be inequitable for the State to pay more tax monies to those school districts which happen to levy the library tax than to those school districts which do not. Accordingly, in our opinion, the STAR exemption does not apply to taxes or charges levied for library purposes.

The Comptroller reached a similar conclusion (regarding administrative and judicial refunds of taxes) in Opinion 95-15.
Using a copy of the Town of New Hartford assessment database, we created a spreadsheet showing what each parcel in the New Hartford Central School District in the Town of New Hartford would be assessed [using the current figures] on the 2013-2014 school tax bill if the New Hartford Public Library were to re-charter as a school district library versus what each parcel is paying on their town tax bill now to fund the library as a town library [based on the current town budget with a distribution to library of $400,000, the tax rate is $.31 per thousand].

The spreadsheet is sorted by last name; you can view and download the spreadsheet here.

As far as the Towns of Kirkland, Frankfort and Paris, they pay nothing at this point for the New Hartford Public Library as a town library, but they will be taxed if the library becomes a school district library.

Conversely, Chadwicks and the Village of New York Mills pay library tax as a town library, but would pay nothing if the library is re-chartered to a school district library.

Remember, the vote is scheduled to take place in the library on August 23, 2012.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Hartford Public Library Re-Charter Vote...

We have received several emails and comments asking us why we have been silent on the library vote that is scheduled for August 23, 2012.  Frankly, we wanted to give the library a chance to do the right thing...make information available and allow the public adequate time to ask questions.

However, other than a small article in the June Town Crier that stated more information is available on their website [we checked, there is no information there!], it appears that library trustees have chosen to make no further information available to the voters at this time. 

Here is what we know so far...

At library board meetings, several library trustees have openly acknowledged that they have been meeting behind closed doors with Tim Trainor.  Under the NYS Open Meetings Law, those meetings should be open to the public; however, quite frankly, some trustees aren't even privy to the time and place of these meetings.

At the moment, library trustees are busy collecting required signatures on petitions that will be presented to the New Hartford Central School Board for their approval to hold the August referendum that is slated to be held in the New Hartford Public Library.  New Hartford Central School will be conducting and is paying the costs associated with the vote.

Library trustees are requesting that taxpayers in the New Hartford Central School District approve the library re-chartering as a school district library, adopt a budget that is proposed to be $ 996,975 with a tax levy of $ 893,675, and to elect seven (7) trustees.

Petitions to become a library trustee will be available soon.  We will let everyone know more information as to the process as soon as it is available.

The library budget that is being voted on August 23, 2012 will not be in effect until the 2013-14 school year and will not be on the school tax bills that will be sent this August.  A library tax will; however, be a line item on the following year [2013-14] NHCSD tax bills if the referendum is successful.

Therefore, even if the re-chartering is approved, the library will still need to be funded by the town for 2013 so a line item for the library will still be in the 2013 town budget; the amount of the town funding will be determined during town budget discussions this September-November.

If the library becomes a school district library, only New Hartford Central School taxpayers will fund the library.  That means that people living in Paris, Kirkland and Frankfort who are in the New Hartford Central School District will also be paying for the New Hartford Public Library, but people in New York Mills, Chadwicks and any other areas in the Town of New Hartford that are outside the New Hartford Central School District will no longer pay to fund the New Hartford Public Library. 

Only voters who live in the New Hartford Central School District will be allowed to vote at the August 23rd referendum.

Once the library becomes a school district library and the budget is approved by the voters, the library budget will remain the same until the library trustees place a new budget on the ballot.   Once adopted, the library budget will never decrease.  If an increase is requested by the library and turned down by the voters, the budget will revert to the previous budget.

Conversely...

If the library re-chartering is not approved by the voters in the NHCS District, the library remains a town library, the current trustees remain on the board, and the town board will set the amount given to the library in the town's annual budget that is adopted each November.

Currently the town budgets $400,000 a year for the library and that cost is shared by everyone in the Town of New Hartford including the two villages.

If the library re-chartering is not approved, they always have the option of putting it up for another vote. However, a second vote will need to be paid for by the library.

We will be making documents and videos of library board meetings available shortly.

In the meantime, if you have questions regarding the library vote, please email them to us and we will answer them on our blog.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

If you don't like it...sue us!

That's pretty much the sentiment expressed in the town board resolution that was adopted in support of Larry Adler's zone amendment change request.

The only person on the board that questioned the zone change was Councilman Backman who ultimately voted 'nay'; Councilman Woodland also voted 'nay' because his constituents did not want the zone change [the business park is in Councilman Woodland's Ward].

The other two councilmen and the town supervisor were able to rationalize their 'aye' vote even though 6 out of 7 members of the Planning Board felt that the zone change was not in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan.  We can't help but ask...WHY?


We were eager to receive our FOILed copy of the April 25, 2012 town board minutes, the meeting where the town board approved Mr. Adler's zone change from Planned Development Park [PDP] to [Planned Development Mixed Use] PDMU, so we could see how the town addressed the requirement of Town Code Article XIV. Amendments:
§ 118-88. Town Board procedures.

E.  Conformance with Town Comprehensive Plan. In all cases where the Town Board shall approve an amendment to the Zoning Map, said Board shall find, for reasons fully set in its resolution, such amendment to be in conformity with the Town Comprehensive Plan.
We found no language in the resolution that addressed conformity with the Comprehensive Plan.

Actually, the only mention of the Comprehensive Plan was in the discussion by the board members prior to the vote:
"Councilman Backman had two impediments to his vote tonight – 1.) does the Town’s comprehensive plan comply with the zoning law;"
AND
"Lawrence Adler (New Hartford Office Group) submitted a letter dated April 4, 2012 agreeing to


“…..limit retail development on lands it owns, including those parcels zoned Planned Highway Business (PHB) and PDMU. Specifically, prior to an update of the Town Comprehensive Plan, the New Hartford Office Group will limit retail development to no more than 175,000 square feet on the PBH and PDMU zoned lands.”
Councilman Backman's question was never answered and Mr. Adler did submit a letter.

However, by Mr. Adler's own letter, he acknowledges that the rezoning does not comply with the present Town Comprehensive Plan. There is nothing saying that when [and if] the Comprehensive Plan is updated, Mr. Adler's zone change will fit in with the updated plan.

Here is a copy of Mr. Adler's letter which, by the way, according to the April 25, 2012 town board minutes, "The Town Attorney confirmed that the April 4, 2012 letter is binding."

Here is a copy of the entire town board resolution allowing the zone amendment change from Planned Development Park to Planned Development Mixed Use. 

In reviewing the adopted resolution, we did find one other problem [PAR Technology...Mr. Casciano...take note, this could come back to bite in the future].

Section 1 of Schedule “A”, TOWN OF NEW HARTFORD, NY LOCAL LAW NO. THREE OF 2012 says:
#328.000-3-10.1 (the portion that is vacant only is being rezoned) - Par Tech Corp.
Then Section 3 says:
This local law eliminates the PDP zone which comprises parcels owned by Par Technologies being used for research and development and manufacturing.
"Eliminates" the PDP zone for the parcels being used for research and development and manufacturing?

Correct us if we are wrong, but if they are only rezoning the vacant portion of tax map # 328.000-3-10.1, and not the part of the parcel where the research, development and manufacturing facilities are located and, at the same time, according to the adopted resolution, the local law will "eliminate" the PDP zone for the research, development and manufacturing part of the parcel, doesn't that leave the PAR manufacturing facility "zone-free"?

Perhaps the word "eliminates" should be replaced by the word "retains"...

Eliminate...To get rid of; remove

Retain...To keep or hold in a particular place, condition, or position.

Yep...we think that PAR would like to "retain", not "eliminate", the PDP zoning for the portion of their property currently used for research, development and manufacturing. See our blog of April 25, 2012...Rezoning on the table at tonight's town board meeting...

It would appear that the "official record" needs to be changed and since all local laws have to be filed with the Office of the Secretary of State before they become effective, perhaps someone should check to see just what was filed and at the same time make sure that the Town Code book entry is correct.

Just saying...