Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Highway to Hell!

After presenting the town clerk with a copy of General Municipal Law, I finally received a copy of the State Comptroller's Report that by law has to be filed with the state comptroller and town clerk by May 1 each year. According to the report, it was actually filed on April 24, 2017 so I have no idea what the hold up was for me to receive a copy.

The town clerk knows that a copy of the report has to be filed in her office when it is filed with the state comptroller. She is also supposed to notice it in the paper stating that it is available to anyone who wants a copy.

Yet, it appears that the S.O.P. under the rule of Tyksinski is to prevent residents (and town councilmen) from getting any financial information. By the way, I am still on the agenda for the special board meeting on May 30, 2017 regarding my FOIL appeal. For some reason, Tyksinski doesn't want to release the 2016 financial statements. I can't imagine why!

Getting back to the state comptroller's AUD report, I haven't had a lot of time to look over the numbers in this report yet, but it was quite apparent that there is one fund that has a negative fund balance...Highway Wholetown.

The Highway Fund is divided into two separate funds...accounts starting with DA or the Highway Wholetown, meaning that all residents pay the taxes; and accounts starting with DB for Highway Part-town that only residents outside of the two villages pay.

The Highway Wholetown (DA) has had a negative fund balance for the last two years according to the AUD report filed with the comptroller on April 24, 2017.

Prior to Tyksinski being elected as supervisor, the Highway Wholetown budget expenses were offset by sales tax; at that point, the budgeted expense was only $10,000 for general repairs in the Highway Dept.

Then in 2011, Tyksinski started using Highway Wholetown Fund balance to offset the highway repairs expense; at the time the fund was $122,298; Tyksinski continued to use $10,000 from the Highway Wholetown fund balance except in 2012 when $40,396 was transferred from the Highway Wholetown fund balance to pay $10,000 of repairs plus an interfund loan of $30,396 (don't know what that was for).

In 2013, the town bonded for $ 1,895,000 of which $ 825,000 was to buy highway equipment; a 2014 snowplow ($200,000); two (2) John Deere Loaders ($300,000); plus a lease buyout for DPW trucks ($325,000). Why Tyksinski believed that the bond was to be paid back using Highway Wholetown instead of Highway Part Town is anyone's guess. Each of the villages have their own DPW with their own equipment.

Then in 2014, the Highway Wholetown budgeted expense was $73,048; this time only $1,000 was for repairs. The rest of the expense of $72,048 is to pay the 2013 bond principle and interest. Again, in 2014, the Highway Wholetown fund balance was used as the revenue source to offset the expense leaving a negative balance of -$26,495.

In 2015 and 2016, Tyksinski had to go back to using sales tax to offset the bond payments because the Highway Wholetown fund balance was now negative and remains negative according to the 2016 AUD report.

The bond should have never been in Highway Wholetown to begin with; principle and interest for highway equipment should be in Highway Part town and paid with sales tax revenue. I am sure there is a reason why fund balance in Highway Wholetown had to be used; probably because he didn't want to use sales tax which would have been mandatory if the debt was put in the Highway Part Town. By the way, according to the 2015 audit, that $825,000 debt is not slated to be paid in full until April 2027.

I have previously reported on this blog that there is definitely a "robbing Peter to pay Paul" scenario that has been going on during the Tyksinski years for some time...invoices and other records I have FOILed are quite telling.

Dwindling sales tax revenue and increased costs are becoming the norm for this area. No property tax increase has become the norm for Tyksinski. Emperor Tyksinski is actually "proud" of no tax increase and uses it in his campaign b/s. If I remember correctly Reed was proud of no tax increase too...until 2010 anyway; I am sure taxpayers remember the rather large tax increase!

The question each taxpayer should be asking is how long can this continue and what other "gems" will be found out when we finally get to see the 2016 Financial Statements and the state comptroller's report. Judging by Tyksinski's effort to try to prevent the release of the financials, I do believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, I know there are other problems in this AUD report, but I am not going to waste any more time on it.

It's funny; I do believe that April 24, 2017 is the earliest that the state comptroller's report has ever been filed! The excuse for not releasing the audit has always been...we have to wait until after the Financials are finished so we can make sure that the numbers in the comptrollers AUD report are correct.

Yet, for some reason, Dreimiller seems to have been in a hurry to get this report filed even though the financials are still a "draft audit that Tyksinski believes is the property of D'Arcangelo". I do not plan on believing anything until the work of outside agencies is made available.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

You're digging a deep hole, Supervisor!

Sure hope you can get out of it when all is said and done!

Town Supervisor Patrick Tyksinski, CPA, would like us to believe that the 2016 financial audit prepared by D'Arcangelo & Co. is a "draft" that he "believes is the property of the accounting firm" even though the field work was completed by D"Arcangelo at the end of February which is exactly within the 60 days from the end of the fiscal year that is allowed under General Municipal Law for a town audit to be completed.

Once again, Supervisor...nice try, but I'm not buying it.

You see, periodically, I read the New Hartford Public Library minutes. Last night, I decided to see if new minutes were posted and sure enough the April 19, 2017 minutes were available.

I find it interesting that the approved minutes of that library meeting states:
"President Mowat received a copy of our part of the Town audit today and has forwarded it to A. Burback and G. Kielar for review. A letter of engagement has been requested by the auditor but not signed. Ms. Mowat will attach an addendum to this letter documenting that we did not engage D’Archangelo to perform this audit; the Town did. The Town intends to subtract the cost of this audit from the amount we will receive on an upcoming voucher."
The interesting part is that all previous Town of New Hartford audits completed by D'Arcangelo & Co. always state that the New Hartford Public Library is a component of the town:
"The financial reporting entity consists of the primary government, organizations for which the primary government is financially accountable, and other organizations for which the nature and significance of their relationship with the primary government are such that exclusion would cause the reporting entity's financial statements to be misleading or incomplete.

The accompanying financial statements present the activities of the Library. The Library is a component unit of the Town of New Hartford. The Library is financially accountable to the Town because it appoints all of the Library's Board Members, provides 80% of the funding for operations, and as needed, is responsible for approving and issuance and the payment of debt. The Library does have ownership of the real property.

The decision to include a potential component unit in the Library's reporting entity is based on several criteria including legal standing, fiscal dependency, and financial accountability."
So, Supervisor Tyksinski, did you want the town councilmen and taxpayers to believe that only part of the audit is a "draft that you believe is the property of D'Arcangelo"?

Because when I look at the library's website, their 2015 Final Financial Statements are an exact copy of the one I have on file for the 2015 Final Town of New Hartford Financial Statements as prepared by D'Arcangelo; in other words the library audit is contained within the town audit.

How can only part of the audit be a "draft which is the property of D'Arcangelo", while other parts of the same audit are final? As a CPA, sir, is that a normal situation?

Could you explain to everyone which parts of the 2016 Financial Statements prepared by D'Arcangelo you don't like leading you to "believe" that by calling by it a "draft" the audit doesn't come under the FOI Law, therefore, preventing anyone from getting a copy?

Is it the General Fund balance that is troubling you or was there a need to reverse some previous year's transactions because they might not be in keeping with town law?

Did D'Arcangelo actually "dot all the i's and cross all the t's" this year because of the state comptrollers visit making you unhappy with the resulting financials? Taxpayers deserve answers, sir!

By the way, how do you plan to bond for $1.25 million next month when all you have to present for 2016 financials is a "draft" copy that you "believe" is the property of D'Arcangelo & Co.?

One last thing, sir!

Be sure to bring that transaction mentioned in the library minutes before the town board for approval, because the 2017 budget doesn't break out an expense for the audit of the New Hartford Public Library; that budget line is 0.

Plus, if the D'Arcangelo invoice is more that the $20,500 which was budgeted for the town audit, a transfer needs to be approved by the town board to pay the difference.

Oh, and sir, the amount you plan to charge the library should be discussed in public at the town board table before you go ahead and once again this year subtract more money from the amount that taxpayers paid to fund the library. I would think town residents would be interested to know how you are 'charging" the library to make up your deficits.



Friday, May 19, 2017

Oops, three board members couldn't make the May 24th Special Board Meeting...



Without a quorum present, the meeting to discuss the fate of my FOIL appeal for a copy of the "draft" audit that Tyksinski "believes" is the property of D'Arcangelo had to be cancelled.

It is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. in Butler Hall. Ooh, that's the day after Memorial Day. Hope the councilmen are available! The public is invited.


The necessity of this whole "dog and pony" show is baffling...


If D'Arcangelo finished their field work in February, why is the audit still a "draft" that Tyskinski "believes" is the property of D'Arcangelo five (5) months after the end of the fiscal year?

If the audit was so wonderful as Tyksinski boasted at the March 8, 2017 town board meeting (actually, I "believe" he said the auditors found only two (2) things they had to change), why isn't the audit finalized at this point and available to the town board and the public?

Let's not forget, if Councilman Woodland did not ask about the audit at the May 10, 2017 town board meeting, Tyksinski probably would not have even mentioned it. That does seem rather odd. Why would he not let the councilmen know where the town's finances stand?

In reading NYS town and general municipal law, it's my understanding that as town supervisor and CEO of the Town of New Hartford, Tyksinski is charged with keeping the councilman "in the loop" regarding town finances.

If I was a betting person, knowing that the state comptroller spent several weeks looking over the town's records, I would say that the draft audit was not to Tyksinski's liking because those two (2) things that Tyksinski mentioned on March 8th were very BIG things.

I am betting that D'Arcangelo told Tyksinski they are not changing the audit just to please him...instead they said take it or leave it!

Come on, Supervisor Tyksinski, you're a CPA...this isn't brain surgery.  What say you, Supervisor Tyksinski?

I can't wait until the state comptroller releases his audit of the Town of New Hartford.  I'm actually on the comptroller's mailing list so it won't be difficult to get a copy when it is released!

Not looking good, people!



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Playing hide and seek with the town supervisor…..

The town supervisor has decided to hold a Special Meeting at 5 p.m. on May 24, 2017 in Butler Hall to address my FOIL appeal regarding the town’s financial statements that the town supervisor continues to refer to as “draft”.

The meeting will be open to the public in case anyone would like to hear his explanation(s).

Dan Dreimiller, the town’s finance officer, was videotaped at the March 8, 2017 town board meeting stating that D’Arcangelo had finished their field work in late February and it was expected that the 2016 financial statements would be available by March 31, 2017.

Yet, at the end of May, the supervisor “believes” the audit is the property of D’Arcangelo much as their work papers.

If, as reported by Dan Dreimiller at the March 8th town board meeting, D’Arcangelo finished their field work by late February, why is the town supervisor, almost three (3) months later, calling the financial statements a “draft"…which he "believes" is considered property of the accounting firm.

If this is the pace that D’Arcangelo works, it is definitely time to look for another accounting firm to do the town audit next year! Somebody at the D"Arcangelo & Co. accounting firm needs to be held accountable...why is the town board quiet on this?

If Tyksinski's only reason for denying my FOIL of the D'Arcangelo audit is because of what he "believes", why is Tyksinski also delaying the release of the 2016 report to the State Comptroller (AUD)?

The email I received in response to my FOIL for the report to the state comptroller (AUD) is extremely puzzling:
Good morning, Cathy:

I hereby acknowledge receipt of your FOIL request described below.

I will contact the Supervisor/Finance Director offices for this document and expect to have confirmation by Friday, May 19, 2017, at the latest.

Gail

Seriously?


What is the AUD, you might ask?

It is an unaudited financial report that is used by the State Comptroller to measure the town’s fiscal stress level. The Town of New Hartford's report is due on May 1 each year.

Under General Municipal Law section 35(1):
“1. A report of such examination shall be made and shall be filed in the office of the state comptroller and in the office of the clerk of the municipal corporation, industrial development agency, district, agency or activity, or with the secretary if there is no clerk. An additional copy thereof shall be filed with the chief fiscal officer, except that in the case of a school district, such additional copy shall be filed in the office of the chairman of the board of trustees, the president of the board of education or the sole trustee, as the case may be.  When so filed, each such report and copy thereof shall be a public record open to inspection by any interested person."
Sounds fairly clear, IF the report has been filed with the state comptroller, the town clerk should have a copy of the 2016 AUD. Privately, she told me that Dan Dreimiller advised her that the report was filed timely by May 1, 2017.

Has the AUD report really been filed with the state comptroller?


If GML 35 (1) states that a copy is to be filed in the town clerk's office, why does she have to consult Dan Dreimiller to see if the report has been filed?

Clearly, she is the records officer; she doesn’t need to contact anyone…it is a public record.  She has the authority as town records keeper to release the report the same day as my FOIL request.
Apparently, orders have been given from upstairs at Butler Hall.

What is the town supervisor hiding and how long does he “believe” he can keep it hidden?

What did the auditors from the State Comptroller’s office find? It must be devastating!

What makes Tyksinski think that the voters of New Hartford would want to vote him in for another 4 years when he is clearly trying to hide financial information from town residents?

How many New Hartford Republican committee persons are willing to throw their support to the town supervisor when he is fighting so desperately to keep the 2016 financial documents from the purview of the town voters and taxpayers?

How many town councilmen are willing to use their head to think logically; carefully read my appeal; and vote against Tyksinski on May 24th? I would think that each and everyone of them would be interested in knowing where the town finances stand...otherwise, none of them should be voted in office!

And, last but not least, where does the town attorney, Herb Cully, stand on all of this?



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Town board, the ball is officially in your court...

This morning, I received the following email from the town clerk:
Dear Cathy:

The Town Supervisor believes the draft financial statement is considered property of the accounting firm, much the same as their work papers are considered their property, and therefore denies access to said document(s). Under the Freedom of Information Law, you may file an appeal within thirty (30) days in writing directed to the Town Board, the appeals agency for the Town. Within ten (10) business days of receipt of such appeal, the Town Board must fully explain in writing to the person requesting the record the reasons for further denial, or provide access to the record sought.

Sincerely,

Gail Wolanin Young Town Clerk

Nice try, Supervisor! Bravo! Remember though, you are on videotape stating that you have the draft audit and will provide the same to the town board!

I am sure you or the town attorney must know that a town record that is held by the town in its physical form is a record that is FOILable no matter what you choose to call it...a draft, an ice cream cone, or bull excrement!

I just delivered a FOIL appeal to the town clerk:


Click here for a larger print pdf!


Since the next scheduled town board meeting is not until June 14th, the town will need to hold a Special Town Board meeting prior to June 1, 2017 to respond to my appeal by either again denying with a majority vote of the town board or give me the requested record. They have ten (10) business days to respond to my appeal.

Anyone on the town board wish to be videotaped denying the 2016 "draft" audited financial statements that clearly is a town record and is FOILable even in its supposed "draft" form?


Tyksinski is said to be planning a re-election campaign. As town residents; voters; and taxpayers, we should be outraged and begin questioning what the town supervisor is trying to hide.

What information does the 2016 financial statements contain that taxpayers and voters may not like?

What IS the financial position of the town?

Why has the state comptroller's office been poring over town records for months?

I have also FOILed the 2016 Annual Unaudited Document (AUD) that has to be sent to the NYS Comptroller by May 1st each year.

The town clerk wrote in a separate email that she will get back to me as to when it might be available. I have a feeling that the town is in a financial crisis!



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New Hartford Town Board unanimously approves $1.25 million bonding resolution…

At the May 10, 2017 town board meeting, the town board unanimously approved $350,000 bonds to pave Tilden Ave and $900,000 for the Grange Hill stormwater project.


First bond resolution...$350,000 for paving on Tilden Ave. If you have driven on that road, you will agree that it does need paving. The money used to be part of the adopted budget...those days are gone.

The legal notice in the May 15th Observer Dispatch starts:
BOND RESOLUTION DATED MAY 10, 2017.

A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE TILDEN AVENUE ROAD PROJECT IN AND FOR THE TOWN OF NEW HARTFORD, ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK, AT A MAXIMUM ESTIMATED COST OF $350,000 AND AUTHORIZING, SUBJECT TO PERMISSIVE REFERENDUM, THE ISSUANCE OF $350,000 BONDS OF SAID TOWN TO PAY THE COST THEREOF.
To read the entire legal notice, click here for a pdf.

Just a note that the legal notice is just a standard notice; there will be no sidewalks, curbs, etc. The bonding is to pave and do some necessary infrastructure repairs.

The next bond for $900,000 is a little more perplexing. It reads:
BOND RESOLUTlON DATED MAY 10, 2017.

A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE GRANGE HILL STORMWATER PROJECT IN AND FOR THE TOWN OF NEW HARTFORD, ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK, AT A MAXIMUM ESTIMATED COST OF $900,000 AND AUTHORIZING, SUBJECT TO PERMISSIVE REFERENDUM, THE ISSUANCE OF $900,000 BONDS OF SAID TOWN TO PAY THE COST THEREOF
To read the entire legal notice, click here.

The Grange Hill project has been bid several times over the last 3 or 4 years and each time the bids have been rejected.

The last bid opening in March 2017 was rejected because the bids came in higher than projected. The board agreed that after some re-designing of the project, they would go back out to bid in the Fall of 2017.

To date, no re-design has come before the town board for approval and the town has not re-bid the project.

The fact that they are bonding $900,000 now for a project that has yet to be designed and yet to be bid is concerning. Tyksinski said at the May 10, 2017 town board meeting, if the cost is more than the $900,000 plus the $100,000 which Oneida County Sewer & Water is contributing, the project will not proceed.

Money has already been “borrowed” from the sewer fund for the Grange Hill project...a project that may never be completed if the price isn't "right".

Given the past, I can't help but wonder...Is Tyksinski looking for the right price or the right person to win the bid? What is going on?

A couple of more questions...


As noted on page 10 of the March 2017 adopted town board minutes:
"Councilman Woodland inquired how the audit was progressing. The Finance Director reported that the local auditors had completed the field work last week and the audit went well. The State auditor has been here all week, not sure when he will be through. Supervisor Tyksinski complimented Finance Director Dreimiller on increasing the Fund balance since 2010."
If the local auditor's field work was completed by the March 8, 2017 town board meeting, how come the 2016 Financial Statements prepared by D'Arcangleo & Co. are still in DRAFT form and Tyksinski is trying to prevent me from getting a copy?

I wonder if the State auditors hanging around looking "things" over has anything to do with it...just saying!

I think the last time the State auditors were here was...let me think....yes, it was 2009 when the town's "rainy day" fund was depleted by over $2 million!



Sunday, May 14, 2017

...Feeling extremely deja vous-ish!

“The only lesson you can learn from history is that it repeats itself”

--Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom


Strange, the parallels that can be drawn between 2009 and 2017.

Strange that we are only talking about eight (8) years; two terms of Tyksinski; yet it would appear that we are walking down the same road as in 2009 when a huge tax increase was thrown at us without warning. A tax increase that brought residents to town board meetings in numbers  to complain.


It was too late to complain in 2009; and apparently, too easily, we forget!

Tyksinksi was elected to lead the town starting January 1, 2010 and once again everyone has chosen to sitt back at home...too busy, I guess, to attend town board meetings.

I have attended every meeting since 2003; blogged about them since 2006; and videotaped them since 2008. In other words, I have been involved which is probably why I can clearly see where we are heading...and it isn't good.

In 2009, then Councilman Bob Payne, presented a set of "rules" for public comment he planned to present to the town board for approval. Mr. Payne said that he first planned to check with Robert Freeman, Director of the Committee on Open Government. The "rules" that Payne developed never saw the light of day at a town board meeting after that...guess Mr. Payne "rules" didn't pass the"smell test" nor Freeman's opinions.
At the last town board meeting of May 10, 2017, Supervisor Tyksinski read a list of "rules" for public comment that he unilaterally plans to implement at town board meetings starting next month. I sent an email to the supervisor and town attorney advising them that Town Law 63 makes it clear that it would require a majority vote of the full town board to adopt these rules.

Normally, the supervisor is silent, but the town attorney sends me a return "thank-you" email. This time, the supervisor and town attorney both have been silent; the fate of the "rules" is still to be announced.
In 2009, we found out that the town fund balance was depleted by about $2.4 million; leaving about $300,000 of fund balance. Earle Reed, who had already announced in November of 2008 his intention to run for a second term in November 2009, was forced to announce he would not be seeking re-election in 2009. Tyksinski stepped in as the Republican candidate for the November 2009 election year.
Supervisor Tyksinski started fund-raising early in 2017 for his re-election to a third term in the 2017 elections. His destiny is still unclear...time will tell and the outcome will be very shortly as collecting signatures on petitions starts in mid-June. Tick, tock....
2009 was also the year that the 2008 financial audit seemed to have some problems and the final 2008 audit that was prepared by Barone & Howard was not available until September 2009.
The 2016 audit appears to be a well-kept secret. It was noted in the approved January 2017 town board meeting minutes that the auditors, D'Arcangelo & Co., were just finishing up the 2016 audit and it was anticipated that it would be available by the end of March 2017.

At the last town board meeting on May 10, 2017, Councilman Woodland inquired as to the status of the 2016 audit and was told that it is still a draft. Tyksinski agreed to let the board members see the draft, but warned them that it was not for distribution.

Unfortunately, Tyksinski must be unaware that an external audit with factual and statistical information is FOILable under the Freedom of Information Law even in draft form. A FOIL request has been sent to the town clerk for the draft 2016 Financial Statements. More on that later.
In 2009, the tax rate for the next year (2010) included a drastic rate increase in the 2010 budget that left many asking "what the Hell happened?"
The 2018 supervisor's budget, by law, has to be available by October 5, 2017. What is ahead for the 2018 budget and tax rate? Good question! Rumors have been flying around town...some of them are actually true and will become apparent shortly.
Supervisor Tysksinki told the town board at the last board meeting that the town's debt service payments to be budgeted will not decrease until 2022 and warned the board that further bonding over and above the $1.25 million approved at the May 10, 2017 meeting will ensure a 35% tax increase in the 2018 budget.

Either Tyksinski is exaggerating; there are other reasons for his warning not to bond for an excavator are at play; or this town is once again in dire financial trouble; or maybe a combination of all three.  This is all very suspicious.  What is hidden in the 2016 audited financial statements?

Fasten your seat belts, friends...the road is about to get very bumpy!


Without further ado, here is the entire conversation regarding town finances and bonding with Supervisor Tyksinski's diatribe at the May 10, 2017 town board meeting...









Thursday, May 11, 2017

Whoa, not so fast buckaroo!

You have overstepped your authority once again, sir! Time to take a breather!

At last night’s town board meeting, Supervisor Tyksinski read HIS self-proclaimed rules for the Public Comments at the start of town board meetings; rules he stated would begin with the next meeting in June.

Tyksinski has had a self-proclaimed three (3) minute rule regarding public comments for some time now; although it's fair to say he has sometimes allowed “some people” to go over the three minutes while watching the clock for others.


The Open Meetings Law requires that any adopted rules be applied equally to all people who attend the meetings.

I have remained quiet thus far because there really aren’t that many people who choose to speak at town board meetings and most people have usually been given enough time to make their comments without interruption.

However, after last night’s diatribe, I can no longer keep quiet; this is outrageous! Tyksinski has gone over the edge. Obviously, something has his “knickers in a knot” as you will see as I blog about the goings-on at the May 10, 2017 town board meeting.

What could it be that has him so upset?

After the Pledge of Allegiance, Tyksinski, with an authoritative tone in his voice, started by announcing HIS “new” rules for public comments.
  • All persons who wish to speak during the public comment period must sign the sign-in sheet prior to the meeting. This will be at the town clerk’s table. Only those persons on the list will be recognized to speak by the Chair.
  • The comment period is just that; time to comment. There will be no discussions between the speaker, the board members, department heads, other town officials or other persons in attendance. This will be a comment period not a time for discussion or debate.
  • Each speaker will be allowed 3 minutes to present their comment.
  • The speaker may remain seated or stand whichever they prefer. However, speakers will remain in their seated area.
  • No speaker will be allowed to present to the board, department heads, town officials, or other attendees any item, document, photograph, etc. without permission from the Chair. If after making their comment, the speaker wishes to have the department head or town board member or town official contact them, they should provide their phone number to the town clerk upon leaving the meeting.
First problem is these new "Tyksinski Rules" contain violations of the Open Meetings Law and Town Law Section 63 as I outlined in my email to the town supervisor; town attorney; and town clerk with a request that the town clerk send copies to the town councilmen. (pdf copy of email)

Until now, no rules for the public comments have been adopted by the town board; Tyksinski has inserted his own 3-minute rule at the start of each meeting. Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government, has opined that under town law, Tyksinski DOES NOT have the authority to promulgate his own rules absent town board approval. It requires a majority vote of the town board to adopt of a resolution. Here is the video of Tyksinski’s rules in violation of the Open Meetings and Town Law:




On a related note, according to an article in today's Observer Dispatch, the New Hartford Republican Committee is looking for candidates.
New Hartford GOP Committee looking for candidates

The New Hartford Republican Committee announced that the following town seats are up for election in November: Town supervisor, town clerk, highway superintendent, town justice, council positions in Wards 1 & 3, and Oneida County legislators in districts 13 (New York Mills), 14 (New Hartford Ward 4 and Kirkland), 15 (most of New Hartford), and 16 (southern and eastern parts of New Hartford, Paris and Bridgewater).

Contact Republican Town Chairwoman Kristine Giotto at 315-724-3710 by Wednesday, May 17. The full New Hartford Republican Committee will be screening candidates in mid-May as petitions must be circulated during June in order to be on the November ballot.


How far in debt is the Town of New Hartford?
I”ll give it to you "straight from the horse’s mouth" in my next blog!




Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Damn It...This is MY town…

...and besides the 195 foot communications tower will not be located anywhere near my house, for I live in the village!

...so it would seem to be the opinion of the New Hartford town supervisor given his penchant for dealing with public matters behind closed doors!

The saga continues...

At last night’s Planning Board meeting, it was clear that the only ones who are “in the dark” regarding the county proposal to site a 195 foot emergency communications tower on a privately owned parcel the county is leasing on Higby Road are the Planning Board and the general public.

The spokespersons on behalf of the county said that a letter was sent to Supervisor Tyksinski in July 2016 (almost a year ago) informing him of their intent to take the lead on SEQR.

Under SEQR, by doing what can only be described as "absolutely nothing", the town supervisor may have given the green light for the project to proceed without any public knowledge or input.

Several other towns in NYS have been faced with the same need for siting telecommunication towers as part of a grant from Homeland Security; however, each of those towns held public hearings and applied the Court of Appeals "balancing of public interests" as articulated in Matter of County of Monroe…some towns choose to proceed at the town board level; others at the Planning Board level. The county can be declared exempt if after a board, be it Planning, Zoning or the Town Board, allows the exemption AFTER balancing the public interests.

In each of the towns I found on the internet, the public was given the opportunity to comment; questions were raised as to whether there was a better site; how high does it REALLY need to be (in this case 195 ft); and what the impact would be to surrounding homes before the town even decided to give the county immunity from their zoning laws.

Each of those towns also have adopted resolutions available online stating their response to each of the nine ((9) points in the Monroe court case. So the situation is not unique to New Hartford; only the way it was handled...none of the towns I reviewed gave carte blanche immunity to build the towers without public comment.

In New Hartford, that was not the case. One person, Supervisor Tyksinski, who was more than likely in consultation with the town attorney and codes officer, made the decision to do NOTHING on behalf of the town residents who live in the area of Higby, Sessions and Tilden; at least nothing in the public view.

Supposedly, according to the people who appeared before the Planning Board last night, the town did not respond to the county letter sent in July 2016. Additionally, there was no public notification or public hearing; and there was no noticing on a town board or planning board agenda…until it appeared on this blog. That would explain why the codes officer tried to “buffalo” me when I first contacted his office with questions. He more than likely knew that it had already been discussed behind closed doors in the supervisor’s office.

The NYS Dept. of State in the brochure “Governmental Immunity from Zoning”, a copy of which I sent to the town attorney prior to the Planning Board meeting, clearly quotes the Monroe court decision regarding who has immunity from local zoning laws:
"Before 1988, New York courts recognized that certain entities were entitled to absolute immunity from zoning regulations, including the federal government; state government; state urban development corporations; and public schools."
The booklet continues:
"In making a determination as to whether the actions of governmental units are “exempt” from local zoning regulations, the New York Court of Appeals in the 1988 case of Matter of County of Monroe v City of Rochester, 72 N.Y.2d 338, 533 N.Y.S.2d 702, established a new method for resolving inter-governmental land use disputes using the “balancing of public interests” analytic approach."
Item number 9 on that list is "intergovernmental participation in the project development process and an opportunity to be heard."

With his inaction, the New Hartford Town Supervisor tried and may have succeeded to take the opportunity to be heard away from the residents in the area of the Higby, Sessions & Tilden intersection. Time will tell if the town will reverse course and do the right thing...I wouldn't count on it!

The opportunity to be heard on public matters should be of interest to all town residents. In fact, there is currently legislation in the NYS Assembly to make the nine points in the Monroe court case part of state law by "amending General Municipal Law in relation to the balancing of public interests for governmental projects in municipalities having zoning requirements".

The Planning Board asked several questions, and in the end chose to not make any decisions last night. One board members said, “...we have to live in the community.”

The town attorney is supposedly going to do some further research; however, the county plans on being finished with their project by September 2017 so there is a probability that it will never again see light of day and the tower will be built.

Several times when the codes officer was asked for the town code last night, he replied that town codes specifically say New Hartford does not exempt the county and requires site plan review. Why was the zoning code written that way if the intention was to grant the county immunity from the town zoning codes in New Hartford whenever they needed to build something? Was it another "mistake" in the updated codes?

Interesting to note that on the same Planning Board agenda for approval were four (4) changes to the zoning laws that the town wishes to change; no doubt there is a reason for those changes sitting somewhere on the supervisor's desk that has yet to be uncovered.

It seems that our zoning laws were developed so that they can be manipulated when the town supervisor deems it to be to his liking. The New Hartford Zoning code can be overlooked when "political friends" have needs, and at the same time hard-nosed for the average person who wants to site solar panels. More on this shortly.

Oh, by the way, have I mentioned that Supervisor Tyksinski is up for re-election in November 2017? Will you be voting for him again?

Here is the video of the portion of the Planning Board meeting where the project was discussed:





Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The County is NOT immune from Town of New Hartford zoning laws…

….therefore, an application to site a communications tower and accessory equipment at 623 Higby Road will be presented to the Planning Board on Monday, May 8, 2017. Meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

As I wrote in my March 9 and March 10, New Hartford zoning laws and the court have made it is clear that Kevin Revere was incorrect in asserting that the County is immune from zoning laws.

From the NY Dept. of State:
In making a determination as to whether the actions of governmental units are “exempt” from local zoning regulations, the New York Court of Appeals in the 1988 case of Matter of County of Monroe v City of Rochester, 72 N.Y.2d 338, 533 N.Y.S.2d 702, established a new method for resolving inter-governmental land use disputes using the “balancing of public interests” analytic approach.

Unless a statute exempts it, the encroaching governmental unit is presumed to be subject to the zoning regulations of the host community where the land is located.
The NY Dept. of State further advises that some of the factors that should be considered by the board are:
  • the effect local land use regulation would have upon the enterprise concerned
  • alternative locations for the facility in less restrictive zoning areas
  • the impact upon legitimate local interests
  • alternative methods of providing the proposed improvement
The Planning Board meeting, while it is open to the public, is not a forum for members of the public to speak…you may only listen to the proposed plans and comments of the Planning Board. It is the duty of the Planning Board to weight the “needs” of the county with the “needs” of the residents who could be impacted by the siting of the tower.

If you are interested in this proposal and/or live in the vicinity of Tilden where it intersects with Higby, I would urge you to attend the meeting, email your councilman (Paul Miscione) and/or contact the town supervisor with any concerns or comments.

Here is a copy of the agenda for the Monday, May 8, 2017 Planning Board meeting.



Saturday, April 29, 2017

Solar Application video...

Here is the portion of the video of the Monday, April 24, 2017 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting regarding the solar application:



The video of the entire Zoning Board of Apeals meeting will be online later today.

I will be writing another blog regarding both solar and wind energy in the Town of New Hartford shortly...stay tuned!



Thursday, April 27, 2017

So Sorry; Solar Not Happening in New Hartford…

At the April 12, 2017 Town Board meeting, Supervisor Tyksinski said that he has no problem with solar in response to Councilman Reynolds suggestion to convene a committee to look into the town's solar energy zoning codes.

The town board agreed that Councilman Reynolds should go ahead with the project and at Monday’s Zoning meeting Councilman Reynolds confirmed that he was going to follow through with the committee and make recommendations to the town board.

As luck would have it, another application for a solar energy use variance was on the agenda for the April 24, 2017 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

This time, VP Supply, 4676 Commercial Drive, appeared before the board requesting a use variance for solar panels which were going to be at the back of two buildings for a total of 55 kw. The town's codes only allow for 10 kw.

From the application provided by VP Supply for the use variance:
“The building permit was initially approved by the town on December 19, 2014. Based on approval, VP Supply procured materials and incurred debt to complete the project with expectations of realizing return on investment via energy savings.”
Further, the application states:
“The company submitted an application for a building permit and it was approved on December 19, 2014. At or around December 15, 2015 all necessary conditions for the safe installation of the solar system were in place to start and finish the project within the permitted timetable of December 19, 2015.”

“As a precautionary measure, the company submitted a request for an extension of the building permit. This request was denied and a “Stop Work” notice was issued December 17, 2015."

“As a result of the above, the company has incurred a “unique hardship” as it had procured the necessary materials for this project and incurred debt to pay for the net remaining costs of the system.”
Financial information provided with the application shows a total cost to the applicant of $178,750 , part of which was to be paid by NYSERDA grants upon the completion of the project. The materials are now sitting in storage and the timeframe for the applicant to receive the NYSERDA grant is almost over. However, through no fault of the applicant, a mere two (2) days before the one year expiration of the building permit, the town placed a STOP WORK order on the project.

Why did the town withdraw their permit almost a year after it was given to VP Supply, you ask?

The explanation given at the Zoning Board meeting was that a town employee in the codes department gave the applicant a building permit in error.

Apparently, not even the town employees were given a head’s up on the changes to the town solar energy zoning laws adopted as part of the Updated Comprehensive Plan in July of 2014.

You may remember that I have already stated in my blog that Joe Booth is on videotape telling a resident that there were too many changes in the zoning to be able to state them before the vote to adopt the updated Plan and zoning laws.

It was suggested to the applicant by the town attorney that he contact his councilman, Richard Woodland, to see if he could help out. It was also suggested that the application be tabled until the town had time to review their solar zoning codes.

If you think that Tyksinski is in favor of solar energy; think again. I assure all town residents that as long as Tyksinski is town supervisor, solar energy will not be available to residents in the Town of New Hartford.

So unless you feel like making a $300 contribution to the town for a use variance only to waste your time stating your case before the Zoning Board who will automatically tell you "NO" after they intently listen to your story, you need not bother to apply.

The Zoning Board meeting video will be online this weekend. If you are curious to see what a clusterf**k looks like, be sure to tune in my YouTube channel.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New Hartford Central School; items on tonight's agenda

The New Hartford Central School Board will be meeting tonight at 7 P.M. in the Bradley Elementary School Library.

Items on the agenda include:
E. Resolution to Accept New Employment Agreement

It is recommended that the Board of Education adopt the following resolution accepting a new employment agreement with Robert J. Nole:

WHEREAS, the Superintendent's contract was due to expire on June 30, 2019; and

WHEREAS, the Board desires to extend the Superintendent's employment with the School District; and

WHEREAS, the Board and the Superintendent have agreed upon the terms and conditions of employment for a five-year term and wish to execute a written contract setting forth their agreement; and

WHEREAS, the Board has considered the proposed agreement submitted;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Board of Education of the New Hartford Central School District as follows:

1 . The Board hereby approves the proposed Employment Agreement of the Superintendent of Schools for the New Hartford Central School District, for a term commencing July 1, 2017 to and through April 24, 2022, all terms and conditions of employment set forth in such Agreement and authorizes the President of the Board of Education to sign such Agreement on behalf of the Board.

2. On June 30, 201 7, the existing employment contract shall become null and void.

3. This resolution shall take effect immediately.

Dated: April 25,2017

A copy of the proposed contract is available in pdf format here.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why should we pay less for office supplies when we can pay so much more from a “family” member.



Is it just laziness on the part of the town in not obtaining price quotes each year or can we attribute it to the "Family & Friends" policy so prevalent in our town?

Recently, I heard from several people that there is a direct order handed down from the “Exalted One” that supplies are to be bought from Arlott Office Products owned by the brother-in-law of the town attorney. I have heard the same thing from residents several times in the past and even had emails asking me to look into it.

This time, however, given all the things currently going on in town, I decided to FOIL copies of all invoices for 2015 and 2016 paid to Arlott Office Supply. Unbelievable! That’s all I can say as to the stack of bills I was given to copy.

I hadn’t yet had time to write about the results of my FOIL request when the situation seemed to be resolved at the April 12, 2017 town board meeting. Imagine that!

Finance Director Dan Dreimiller spoke about a list of supply quotes for 2017 that his office was making available to town employees and suggesting that the list be used when ordering supplies from now on.

Here is just the first item on the list:
Adding machine tape, 2.25 inches wide (12 pack)
  • Arlott Office Products (town's preferred vendor) $8.79
  • Hummels $4.64
  • W.B. Mason $3.19
Check out the rest of the price comparisons between, Arlott, Hummels and W.B. Mason on the pdf of the list provided to me at the town board meeting.

Amazing the price differences, eh? Are our town councilmen asleep at the meetings? Why are they approving these invoices without question?

Anyway, something must have made the Finance Director decide to do the right thing and adhere to the town's recently updated Purchase Policy. Was it my FOIL request?

I must say, however, I am somewhat skeptical about their sudden need for obtaining price quotes because according to the town’s recently updated Purchase Policy:
Informal Price Quotes may be obtained by telephone, electronic format or by mail from vendors. The attached informal price quotes form will be used for each vendor solicited. These will be attached to a completed requisition (purchase order), voucher and any other memos/correspondence and forwarded to the Town Supervisor for approval. The Town Supervisor will review and, if necessary, the Director of Finance will do further research and soliciting of materials and/or prices verify the expenditure is within the Town's approved budget. Upon approval of vendor and price, the approved white purchase order and voucher will be mailed to the vendor to initiate the order, with the canary copy being returned to the department.
So, given the fact that we do actually have a Purchase Policy (it's actually required by General Municipal Law) and it states that all purchase orders have to be sent to the town supervisor for approval, the question that will remain is whether orders will still be redirected to Arlott Office Products by the town supervisor even if a town employee uses another vendor.

Of course, the Purchase Policy also states:
Purchase Other than for Lowest Quoted Price
When a purchase is made from other than the lowest responsible offeror (their spelling, not mine), the documentation of the quotation shall be supplemented with a statement justifying such award. Such justification must demonstrate that the award provides for the prudent and economical use of public monies in the best interests if (oops! Who proof-read this policy?) the taxpayers of the Town.
With that in mind, I guess another FOIL request at year end will tell the story! This time I should probably ask for copies of any justifying statements!

By the way, any guesses where we get our copiers and who provides the town's copier maintenance agreements?



.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Report Recommends Cleanup of Contamination at Brownfield Site on Middle Settlement Rd., New Hartford...

Public Invited to Information Session


...on April 25, 2017 from 6:30PM - 8:00PM at the New Hartford Public Library, 2 Library Lane, New Hartford, NY to address contamination related to the SMC Brownfield Site #C633016 (New Hartford, Oneida Co.) within New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program. Drop by anytime to discuss the investigation results and ask questions.

Please see the D.E.C. Fact Sheet for details. This fact sheet is in PDF format. You can save, open, and read the fact sheet by using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can go to the NYSDEC web site to download the program.

If you have questions about the contaminated site identified above, please use the contact information provided in the fact sheet.



Friday, April 14, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

By Order of the Willowvale Fire Company, Inc.

Notice of Public Hearing

ON THE PROPOSED FINANCING BY WILLOWVALE FIRE COMPANY, INC.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN
that the Willowvale Fire Company, Inc. located in the Town of New Hartford, County of Oneida and State of New York, will meet on ApriI 13, 2017 at 7 o'clock p.m., at the Willowvale Fire Company, Inc...

Click on the graphic for a larger print pdf





Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What is REALLY going on in New Hartford??

The town recreation center is sited on an 8 acre parcel owned by the Village of New Hartford (tax map #329.019-5-2), so any sale or lease would also have to include the approval of the village trustees unless the “new” owners plan on moving the building off the property.
On March 7, 2002, then supervisor Ralph Humphreys signed a new 25 year lease retroactive to March 17, 2001 and ending March 17, 2026.

Click Here for a larger pdf copy of the entire lease


Since the town doesn’t own the land, the village trustees would have to agree to any lease or sale of the recreation center property. Or is someone planning on demolishing the building to construct something else on the land?

Which town or village elected “leaders” know what is REALLY going on? Village trustees? Mayor? We know the town supervisor knows, but it was quite obvious at the March town board meeting that the town councilmen were clueless.

By the way, the March town board meeting was the second meeting he said something about a possible sale or lease of the recreation center.

Why would Tyksinski say something at a public meeting that is obviously being discussed behind closed doors by a select few?

Does he know about the restrictions of the Federal grant and was he merely "fishing" to see if anyone else knew?

My bet is that it was "fishing" since both Patrick Tyksinski, now town supervisor, and Herb Cully, now town attorney, were on the New Hartford Village Board at the time of building the recreation center in 1979. To say they are unaware of the grant restrictions would probably be a stretch. So what is the end game?

Actually, there is a watchdog group (nonprofit journalism studio supported by the generosity of its members, news partners and philanthropic backers) that was formed some time ago to monitor all Federal grants from the Federal Land & Water Conservation Fund. They have compiled a list by state of Federal Land, Water & Conservation Fund grants made between 1965 and 2011.

Will you just look at who is on that list…


Click Here for a larger pdf copy of the document


Yup, even the Chadwicks Park that Supervisor Tyksinski wanted to close last year. Oh, boy! Conversion, my friend, conversion!

According to the state brochure on alienation and conversion, the conversion process takes about three years to complete and is only allowed if another recreation area comparable to the one that is being sold or leased is made available to people living in the same general area as the one being sold or leased. And that does not include the time it takes to get state legislature approval and the governor’s signature for alienation of recreation projects that received state funds.

Did someone say sale or lease the recreation center? Any sale or lease, my friend, and I do believe that the eagle will be landing…





Saturday, April 1, 2017

New Hartford Rec Center has been "6 f 'd"...

...or, in other words, a sale or lease will happen "when pigs fly"!

I am told that WKTV reported last night that Supervisor Tyksinski is still looking into the possibility of selling the New Hartford Recreation Center.

As already reported on this blog, Federal matching dollars were used to build the recreation center requiring a conversion process to sell, lease or discontinue municipal parkland.

Originally, the plan was to build a recreation center at a cost of about $800,000, but not enough public money could be raised so the town opted for a smaller building at a cost of $587,000 in order to take advantage of the matching Federal grant. The recreation center opened in 1980.

In 1984, the town board with John Kazanjian as town supervisor, once again applied for and received a Federal matching grant; this time the grant was used to expand the recreation center to add new locker rooms, spectator seating, rehabilitation of restrooms and relocation of concession stands.

It is my understanding that state grant monies have also been used over the years requiring an "alienation" process, but more restrictive is the use of Federal funds requiring the "conversion" process.

According to the booklet, "Handbook on the Alienation and Conversion of Municipal Parkland in New York":
The substitution of replacement parkland is always required in a conversion. This is one area where conversions differ from alienations: in every conversion, substitute lands must be provided. The substitute or “swap” property must be at least equal to the lands being converted. “Equality” is based upon the specific standards below:

 The fair market value of the lands proposed for substitution must be of equal or greater value than the lands being converted.

 The recreational usefulness of the lands proposed for substitution must be reasonably equivalent to the lands being converted.

 The location of the lands proposed for substitution must be comparable to the lands being converted.
So, basically, the town could sell or lease the current recreation center, but it would require a detailed plan to include "substitute lands be provided that are of at least equal fair market value, and that these lands offer reasonably equivalent recreational opportunities".

Well, given the financial condition of the town, that ain't about to happen any time soon! What would an $800,000 building built in the 1980's cost today?


The picture above is an artistic rendering of how a flying pig might appear to the naked eye and is for informational purposes only!

If you happen to see a flock of flying pigs anywhere in the Town of New Hartford, please call Supervisor Tyksinski immediately at 315-733-7500 ext. 2332!


Oh, and what is the reference to "6 f'd" in the title of this blog you might ask?

Literally, it refers to the mapping of a "park" when Federal funds are used.

Figuratively, I'll leave that one up to each individual reader. ROFLMAO!

Reassessment is coming...it is a matter of time! Will it be before the November election...Tyksinski has already started fundraising for another term...or will it be after election?



Sunday, March 19, 2017

The measure of a man...

A town resident and the trustee who spoke on behalf of the resident, came forward during the public portion of the Wednesday, March 8, 2017 town board meeting to discuss a persistent problem with water seeping into their basement from the town’s sewer line in the street during rain storms.

I must admit that I never met either person that appeared before the board that night in person, although I did have phone conversations with both of them because they called me prior to the town board meeting. Since I don't know them, I can only report on what they said and what transpired at the town board meeting.

Both people seemed very reasonable when I spoke to them on the phone and when they appeared at the board meeting; they just wanted a solution to their situation.

Let me start by acknowledging that for some reason there is obviously animosity between the resident and certain town "leaders" that extends beyond the current situation. However, there is no excuse for the town "leaders" to act with indignation towards a town resident particularly when the town had already acknowledged they are at fault in this situation.

From what I gather, the resident tried on several previous occasions to have discussions with town officials on this subject.

According to the resident, after he first contacted the town about the problem, two town employees came to the home to assess the situation; they left agreeing that it was indeed a town problem. I believe this to be true since it was repeated by the resident at the town board meeting and no one on the town board denied the statement.

After that initial visit to the home, according to the resident, there was nothing but silence from the town…calls to the resident’s councilman went unanswered even though Tyksinski’s secretary assured the resident that the message had been delivered. So the town resident had no choice but to file a Notice of Claim to protect his rights. Again, I believe this to be true since there were no denials by the town board.

At that point, Attorney Cully advised everyone on the town board to remain silent claiming the resident had filed a lawsuit against the town.

A Notice of Claim is not a lawsuit, it is merely to inform the municipality that there has been personal injury, wrongful death or damage to real or personal property alleged by reason of the negligence or wrongful act of the municipal entity or of any officer, agent or employee. It must be filed within 90 days of an incident in order to pass the muster to be heard in a court of law. The town still at that point has the ability to resolve an issue. Within the ninety days from the date of filing of the notice of claim, the claimant CANNOT file a lawsuit, but the town can request a 50-h hearing to gather more information from the claimant(s).

According to Attorney Cully, he just chose to send both the resident and the trustee a multi-page response to the claim which I am going to guess was an effort to intimidate them.

The town's "if you don't like it, sue me" policy is an arrogant attempt to "control" and usually ends ups costing the taxpayers.

Before the conversation ended that evening, it was acknowledged that the highway superintendent thought he could fix the problem sometime in April or when the weather permits. Attorney Cully stated that he would be sending an email to the property trustee soon.

I believe the highway superintendent to be an honorable man so unless the town's self-appointed “Grand Poobah” orders the highway superintendent to do otherwise, I believe the water leaking into the basement of the residence problem will be fixed soon.

Whether or not, the property damage issue will be resolved is the question, but I suspect it won't be unless a lawsuit is finally filed.


Here is the video:





Monday, March 13, 2017

Chasing Rainbows and Unicorns...

In the 1970s and 1980s, a group of civic-minded people worked to make what is now known as the New Hartford Recreation Center a reality.

I remember it well as my neighbor at the time was one of the people who was a member of the New Hartford Recreation Association; he was so excited about the possibility of a facility for all residents to enjoy. I also remember the flyer sent around town asking for donations so they could move forward with the idea.

People involved included Bill Bonsted, Frank Ferraro, and Alan Bonaparte, just to name a few, but it was really an areawide effort. Former town councilman, Clarence Reynolds was appointed to the newly created position of commissioner of parks and recreation to coordinate all the parks & recreation activities.

Their goal was to raise enough money to secure the Federal funds that were to be provided as part of a matching grant they hoped would make their "dream" a reality.

At the last town board meeting, Supervisor Tyksinski vaguely talked about something in the works, possibly sale of the building to someone yet to be announced. It was after listening to a gentleman brought to the meeting under the Parks & Recreation Committee agenda item to talk to the board regarding possible upgrades to the recreation center proposed after an energy study was conducted by the NYS Power Authority.

Supervisor Tyksinski said that he and the town attorney were looking into the legal aspects and would report back to the town board possibly as early as next month.

Here's the problem, a recreation center is deemed by the courts to be a park that is held for the benefit of the public at large and not just for the benefit of residents of the local community often known as the "public trust doctrine".

According to a quote from a 1980 Observer Dispatch article:
"We will be seeking contributions from throughout the greater Utica area because we envision that this facility will also be used by people outside of New Hartford."
Therefore, it's a good bet that the recreation center would definitely come under the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

In fact, the Codes of the Town Of New Hartford recognize the recreation center as a park:
This chapter shall apply to those lands owned by or under the control and supervision of the Town of New Hartford, dedicated or otherwise devoted to active or passive recreation and known as "Donovan Memorial Park," "Sherrillbrook Park," "Washington Mills Athletic Park," Recreation Center, "Veterans Memorial Park," "Philip A. Rayhill Memorial Trail," and any extensions thereof. Use of the term "park" in this chapter shall mean and include the above-referenced facilities.
According to the Handbook on the Alienation and Conversion of Municipal Parkland in New York, there are two procedures to follow when a municipality wishes to change the way it uses parkland.

The first is "alienation".

Alienation occurs when a municipality wishes to sell, lease, or discontinue municipal parkland and would require the state legislature to pass an "alienation bill" that would also need to be signed by the governor. The requirements for parkland alienation bills vary depending upon whether or not State dollars have been invested in the recreation center which is quite possible since the previous parks director was always looking for grants.

The next procedure "parkland conversion" is in place if federal dollars were used for the recreation center.

I actually have the newspaper article that identifies that a federal matching grant in the amount of $297,500 was indeed used to build the center.

It is also quite possible that BOTH alienation and conversion would apply if the town and village decide to sell or lease the recreation center as was implied by Supervisor Tyksinski at the March 8th meeting. At any rate, the town should step very carefully and involve the town board and public in their decision making process before making any commitments to an "unnamed" party.

On second thought, perhaps it is time for Tyksinski to stop looking for "rainbows and unicorns" and start getting the town's "ducks in a row"!


More to come...stay tuned!



Sunday, March 12, 2017

Subterfuge…

The bullshit-o-meter was almost off the scale at Wednesday’s town board meeting.

Take for instance, when Supervisor Tyksinski asked the town board to approve the 2017 Master Services contract with Barton & Loguidice in the sum of $40,000 for engineering.

Tyksinski and the board kept referring to the 2017 budgeted amount for engineering of only $20,000. Actually, it is $20,000 in General Wholetown account AA-1440-04, plus an additional $10,000 in the Sewer account SS-8110-41 for a total of $30,000 which is still less than the B & L contract that needed to be approved.

Councilmen Miscione asked where the additional money would come from because town law does not permit spending more than is budgeted until the town board approves a budget transfer resolution BEFORE signing the agreement.

In answer to Councilman Miscione, Supervisor Tyksinski was vague as to how the town could pay the extra money, but at one point said maybe contingency.  As a CPA, Tyksinski must know that you can’t use the contingency account until you have expended the budgeted money in General Wholetown; Tyksinski kind of backed away from that thought instead saying they would find the money somewhere.

Next, he tried to use the power of persuasion. Councilman Miscione wanted to reduce the contract to $20,000 and if more is needed, the town board could re-visit the budget to see if they could afford to transfer more money from another account. Councilman Woodland would rather know where the money was coming for prior to approving the contract.

Tyksinski used every angle to get the town board to agree to signing the $40,000+ contract even to go so far as to call the $20,000 a half-year contract. According to Tyksinski, that would probably be unacceptable to Barton & Loguidice. Tyksinski said that no professional firm would accept a half-year contract. Even the town attorney chimed in to convince the board. Is that in his job description?

Anyway, Supervisor, that wouldn't be a half-year contract because the $30,000 IS the total amount YOU budgeted for a whole year! Tyksinski said he "thought the $20,000 was low at the time" (of the budget); and "I was in favor of $40,000 to begin with."

Ha!Ha!Ha! Remember Supervisor, the Tentative Budget is YOUR budget created without town board input? YOU are the one who decided the amount that would be necessary for engineering services in 2017. The town board merely agreed with you when they adopted the 2017 town budget.

Anyway, here is what the contract says:
The following services and estimated fee not-to-exceed are proposed for Client's fiscal year 2017; these are subject to revision during the Agreement period based on the needs of the Town (underline added by me):
So in reading the signed contract, it would appear that Barton & Loguidice expects that they may be paid less, but they may be paid more. So would they really be unwilling to work for the town if the contract amount was reduced, but subject to additional money if needed and the money was available in the town budget?

Whether they are or not, Supervisor, that does not negate the fact that YOU, my friend, are expected to adhere to General Municipal Law. If Barton & Loguidice is not amenable to accepting the contract amount that YOU and the town board agreed to through the 2017 budget process, and you are not willing or able to find the extra money somewhere in the 2017 budget, perhaps it is time for the town board to start following the town's purchasing policy which states that "Services of Professionals" should be awarded through the use of RFPs to insure that the town chooses a firm that will work with the money that is available to spend! After all, it has been quite some time since there was a RFP for engineering services!

It is so obvious when Tyksinski is trying to "bamboozle" the town board. Even though he kept saying it is up to the town board, Tyksinski had no intentions of signing the contract unless the town board agreed to the $40,000 without a budget transfer to cover the budget shortfall.

Councilman Reynolds finally introduced a resolution to sign the contract not to exceed $40,000 which was unanimously approved by the town board.

BAM! The town councilmen caved again...who do they represent? You can't make this stuff up. Under town law, this is an invalid contract that Tyksinski has no business signing and the town board had no business approving until the money is transferred to cover the expense.

I have to ask…who is Tyksinski working for…town taxpayers or Barton & Loguidice? What is in it for Tyksinski that he would budget $30,000 and then bamboozle the town board to agree to authorize him to sign an agreement for up to $40,000 (with many more dollars extra according to the contract) in violation of town law? Why would the town not use RFP's if Barton & Loguidice did not want to accept the $20,000 contract?

In a related topic, it has been widely said that Tyksinski is in full re-election mode and rumor has it that he held a fund-raising event on March 9th, the day after the town board meeting. I wonder who attended the event and gave money to enrich his campaign coffers?

Here is the videotape portion of the meeting regarding the Barton & Loguidice contract. What a bunch of confusing b/s!



More to come from this meeting...you haven't heard it all yet!



Friday, March 10, 2017

Did town & county officials know hoping that no one else would question?

Looking at the maps in the 2013 Town of New Hartford Comprehensive Plan, it is difficult to discern what the zoning is for the area where the county wants to site a public safety radio communication tower. I am guessing either Residential Agricultural or Agricultural.

However, it really doesn't matter in this instance since we need to rely on the definitions in section 118-14 and Schedule A of the Updated Town of New Hartford Zoning Code.

First, let's look at Section 118-14 Definitions which state:
PUBLIC FACILITY OR USE

Any land, structure or combination thereof owned, used or controlled exclusively for public purposes by any department or branch of the Town of New Hartford, Oneida County, State of New York, or federal government without reference to the ownership of the building or structure and/or the land on which it is situated.
Looks like the tower the county wants to build is covered under this definition.

Next, we have to look at the Schedule A, under Public/Municipal Facility:
Here is a larger pdf version


As you can see the only place a public facility can be located without Site Plan Review or Special Use Permit is in the PR zoning which is actually Parks & Recreation.

Unless the parcel in question which is 100 ft wide by 139 ft deep, is now a park, it would appear that the town has included protections for the public interest in their updated code as was recommended in the brochure that I mentioned in yesterday's blog.

Are our town and county officials playing dumb or are they just that dumb to think that no one is watching? Let's see if they find a way to twist this one!



Thursday, March 9, 2017

Oh, what a night!

Last night's town board meeting was nothing short of astounding and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way! But I will get back to the meeting b/s over the next few days as time permits.

It was reported in today's OD that a public safety radio communications system tower was approved for a site that is to be leased on Higby Road, Town of New Hartford. However, the article did not identify the property.

The property was, however, identified in the Board of Legislators agenda items.

The property involved is owned by Dr. Sirish C. Rao, of Mohwak, N.Y.

The assessment database found on New Hartford's website shows only one (1) property owned by Dr. Sirish Rao and it is located on Higby Road about 1,000 feet from the intersection of Higby, Tilden & Sessions. I have tagged the "tower location" on the tax map below. There are several residences in the vicinity as indicated by the R on the tax map:


Click on graphic for a larger pdf view!


According to the OD, Kevin Revere, Director of Emergency Services, stated:
"Another issue Revere addressed in the committee meeting was the concern legislators had about residents being unhappy with the towers in general. He said because the county is building the towers, it does not have to check with the municipalities or public to get approval ahead of time, according to New York State law. But Revere said that doesn't mean they aren't sensitive to concerns residents might have about the towers."
Interesting take on the issue, Mr. Revere; however, according to the brochure found on the website of Osterman, Whiteman & Hanna, LLP, entitled "ZONING IMMUNITY: WHAT’S THAT?", the county may not be automatically immune from town regulations unless the town permits the immunity.
"After years of debate trying to decide which functions were governmental and which were proprietary, the Court of Appeals decided the seminal case County of Monroe v. City of Rochester, which retired the old governmental-proprietary test and established a new method for resolving inter-governmental land use disputes using the “balancing of public interest” test. Unlike absolute immunity, a local governmental entity may be subject to local land use regulations if its project does not weigh more heavily in favor of the “balancing of public interest.”"
In my opinion, for the town to automatically grant immunity to the county for the siting of a tower so close to several residential parcels without public input is unconscionable.

However, after exchanging several emails with the town codes officer yesterday, I got the feeling that the town HAS ALREADY elected to turn a "blind eye" to the situation without giving nearby residents a chance to be heard. But, hey, what else is new in New Hartford?

I have no skin in the game since I don't live in the area of Higby, Tilden and Sessions Roads, but if I did and had an objection to the site of the tower, I would be dialing up Supervisor Tyksinski to ask why the topic was not publicly discussed in a Zoning Board or Planning Board meeting as the courts seem to require in order to "conduct the balancing of public interest test" as outlined in the above mentioned brochure found online.

Just saying....


UPDATE: I was informed this morning that my concerns have been forwarded to the town attorney for review as I originally requested prior to writing this blog.

Let's see what Attorney Herb Cully has to say.  Is it o.k. for the county to ignore town codes and keep homeowners in a primarily residential area in the dark until the construction of the tower is underway or will the town consider the interests of the residents in the area?

See my next blog...



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The rooster has come home to roost...

It bears repeating...the reassessments done in the early 2000s caused a lot of consternation at the time, but the worst is yet to come.

When I received a cd with a copy of the town's assessment database in 2003, it became immediately apparent that the methods used were inadequate and deceitful. But who else would know, right? I alerted the town to the problems I saw, but what do I know? The State was happy with the results!

However, the way the results were achieved left some problems that are just now rearing their ugly head. Certiorari lawsuits are being won based on the town's declining equalization rate; sales tax revenues are dropping partly due to the decrease in the town's assessed value.

Reassessments are difficult to say the least. Done correctly, the property taxes you pay after a reassessment should either go done or stay about the same. The problem is, with additional assessed property values to tax, most taxing jurisdictions get greedy and raise their budgets to include more of their "wants" instead of their "needs".

But getting back to the current assessment database, the next reassessment is going to be a doozy for some property owners.

Take for instance, the properties that were left untouched and are now enjoying their 1995 assessed value. A lot of these properties are now being sold with a huge discrepancy between their assessed value and their selling price. Down goes the equalization rate!

Then there are the homes that were placed in the wrong neighborhood code and therefore the property assessments were not adjusted according to sales prices of comparable homes, but rather by the sales prices of people with a similar tax map number. Ouch!

Then we have the properties that were moved from one neighborhood code to another neighborhood code each year. Again, their assessment bears no reflection of the assessments of similar homes.

Oh, and lest we forget, there is the year 2005, the year of trending when we were told that every one's assessment was raised, but all you had to do was tell the Board of Assessment Review (BAR) that your assessment was already raised in 2004 and they lowered it back to the 2004 assessed value.

I know this to be true because I was on the Board of Assessment Review at that time and was the lone person to vote against this decision. Matt Bohn, the current town deputy supervisor, can vouch for me on this; he was head of the BAR at the time. By the way, not every one's assessment was really raised that year, the assessor seemed to skip a few hundred.

Oh, and how about the properties that were never in the assessment database and enjoyed tax free status for many years? Yes, there were several; some because the property was tagged as exempt when they were really taxable and some because their property was just never added to the database in the first place.

Along with them are the new homes that were never given a final assessed value; or the properties with substantial additions that were never reassessed to reflect the added market value.

Tyksinski has turned a blind eye to the mess of the assessment database up until now. It is coming folks, there will be a reassessment, Tyksinski's choices are becoming very limited. He has used the special districts to borrow money (money that will need to be paid back sooner than later) to cover town expenses, but this one is a big one folks! It is becoming apparent that there is no where to turn.

Will you vote for him to remain the town supervisor in the November 2017 election if a reassessment is planned for 2018?