If that's true,how come Lawrence has had to file three (3) FOIL appeals in the last two months? Two appeals in April for information regarding special district charges being levied on town tax bills for several properties to include the New Hartford Central School District; the New Hartford Public Library; and Presbyterian Homes that under Real Property Tax Law are exempt from paying special district charges, but they have been erroneously billed for these charges [amounting to thousands of dollars for several of the exempt properties] for quite a few years.
According to the town supervisor, he didn't release the FOILed budget worksheets because he didn't know what we meant by budget worksheets. Really? How long have you been involved with the town budget process Supervisor?
Properties exempt under RPTL Section 490 are only obligated to pay special district charges if there are capital costs [bonding] for the district; the bonds in the Consolidated Sewer District have been retired for many years.
We first brought this situation to the town supervisor and town attorney's attention in February 2013. As of the May 22, 2013 town board meeting, nothing had been done to correct the problem in the town assessment records.
The third FOIL appeal on the May 22, 2013 town board agenda was for the release of the 2012 New Hartford Public Library audit.
Here's the video of the discussion for the release of the library audit:
Why would the town supervisor not want to release a copy of the audit that is clearly a town record? We even contacted Robert Freeman who agreed with us and copied the town clerk on an email reply to us.
Open government?Tyskinski, who appeared to welcome open government when he first took office in 2010 as evidenced by this memo sent to all town departments, now seems to be circling the wagons and only releasing documents that are of his choosing often with the town attorney nitpicking in an effort to try to come up with a valid reason to withhold documents.
We mentioned the town clerk's obligation under the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law during the discussion of our latest FOIL appeal and Town Attorney Herb Cully stated that he was unfamiliar with that law.
Here's a clue...In 1993, December 15th to be exact, the town adopted their Records Management Code naming the town clerk as the Records Management Officer; this town code is based on the requirements of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law; the law the town attorney says he is not familiar with.
The town clerk has the power!Under town code, the town clerk does not necessarily have to receive a document in order for it to be FOILable:
"The records management officer shall have all the necessary powers to carry out the efficient administration and determination of value, use, preservation, storage and disposition of the public records kept, filed or received by the officers and departments of the town"The town code continues:
"Active records. The originating department has full custody (legal and physical) over records still in active use."Supervisor, under both the FOI Law and the New Hartford Town Code, it would appear that even if the library audit was stored "in the back seat of your '60 Chevy", it is still FOILable!
However; if you listen to the tape, the point made by the town attorney and supervisor is that the town clerk did not receive a copy of the audit, therefore, it was not a town document.
Better review town code gentlemen!
The FOIL appeal vote?The vote to release the 2012 New Hartford Public Library Audit to Lawrence was three (3) councilmen in favor with Supervisor Tyksinski being the only 'nay' vote; Councilman Miscione was absent from the May 22, 2013 town board meeting.
Why, oh why?At the April 24th meeting of the New Hartford Public Library Board of Trustees meeting, they [the usual members of the board that always seem to be in control] were all congratulating Treasurer Earl Cunningham for a job well done..no material weakness and no significant findings...according to the library treasurer.
So why was the town supervisor the only town board member to refuse to release a document that was paid for with taxpayer dollars and handed out to the town board prior to their April 24th town board meeting?
Why didn't the treasurer of the New Hartford Public Library release the audit to the library board until the May 22, 2013 library board of trustees meeting when he clearly had the audit in hand at the April 24th library trustee meeting?
Why was there never a meeting of the library finance/audit committee to review the completed audit prior to it being made public? For that matter, why has there NOT been a meeting of the New Hartford Public Library finance/audit committee in recent years?