Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We interrupt this blog for an Editorial Opinion...

This morning I received a comment to my blog regarding Town Law 107:
"If all this is true, then why do you have the current 1st ward councilman's sign on your front lawn? Ouch."
Dear Anonymous "Ouch" person...

Obviously, you know my name and where I live, but you apparently don't have the moxie to ask your question either by calling me, stopping by my house, or sending me an email at one of my several email addresses that can easily be found on the Internet.

Let's see I own this blog; townofnewhartford.com; snsdolls.com; picturesandpassions.com; snshooksandneedles.com and a couple of others! They all have my business/personal email addresses where anyone can write to me and I will answer. Check it out on Google under Cathy Lawrence.

That being said, let me set the record straight.

I have lived in New Hartford since 1968; I came from a small town which was quite different than today's New Hartford, but similar to New Hartford back in the 1970s. Our town has changed and not for the better in some instances.

I looked back through my blog and realized that I have been writing this blog since November 11, 2006.

Prior to that, when the town was in an uproar over the reassessments back in 2003, I stepped forward and volunteered to be the town's webmaster so that never again would the town residents be taken by surprise by something that caused so much commotion. I also served on the town's Board of Assessment Review, until I saw first-hand the b/s that went on behind the scenes...I resigned at the end of my term on that board.

I continued as webmaster until 2006, when the Earle Reed's administration took over and Bob Payne tried behind my back to take the website and all files over in retaliation for my backing of Don Backman.

Unfortunately, Mr. Payne found out that I was doing the website at my own expense and I never took a dime from the town. Therefore, even though they hired Attorney Green to see if they could to sue me, it couldn't be done because I was not a town employee and I owned the website.

While I no longer have anything to do with the town's "official" website which in it's current state is an embarrassment, I still do own townofnewhartford.com. If you think that Earle & company cared about town residents...visit the town's current website that Mr. Payne put together at newhartfordtown.com; it is sorely lacking in detail and is hard to navigate.

By the way, Tyksinski has thwarted efforts of Paul Miscione to create a better, more informative town website even though the money has been approved in previous town budgets. I am told that will change next year.

So in 2006, New Hartford, N.Y. was created...again without taxpayer dollars; it is a service that I choose to provide paying my own expenses because I care.

As a rule, I do not state my political preferences on this blog. I provide town law and FOILed documents to state a case; you can choose to agree or disagree...your choice. Apparently, Anonymous isn't quite sure if the documentation is true....that is his or her opinion. I guess some people have difficulty separating fact from fiction. So be it!

However, since Anonymous has opened the door and I don't know who they are so I can't respond in private, I feel compelled to defend my private political actions in public! Not that I have to because this is America; I'm entitled to my opinion just as you are entitled to yours, but I have never been known to let someone get the better of me. I can battle with the best of them!

I am supporting Jim Messa as town councilman from Ward 1, the ward that I live in, because I believe that he cares about town residents and given an opportunity, he will see that the law is followed.

I have had several conversations with Mr. Messa; some to let him know what Tyksinski is doing to lead the town down a path that is not in keeping with town law and some just because he is my councilman.

He has always been willing to listen to my concerns even though politically there have been times that we have been on different sides of the table. I believe that with some guidance, Jim Messa will make the right choices to move our town forward.

After attending town board meetings where the town attorney and town supervisor assure the board that what they are proposing is legal (even though quite often it is not), I still do not blame Mr. Messa for decisions made at the town board meetings. Watch the videos and see Tyksinski bully the councilmen into submission. Anyone out there that thinks they could do better under the current town leadership is a fool.

For the record, I don't know enough about the other candidate to form an opinion, but he has not held an elected position; until recently has not attended town board meeting except for his own interests, and in my view it would be like starting from scratch with a considerable learning curve.

To be completely honest, it was disappointing to me when he failed to stand tall at a zoning board meeting to defend his application for a solar energy use variance. Instead, just before his turn on the agenda, he left the meeting and let the young gentlemen from the solar company answer questions from the zoning board members. His presence was missed and when zoning board members asked where he was...the town attorney stated he just left.

Sorry, but that was a game-changer for me. I am sure that he is a perfectly fine gentlemen, but I am looking for someone with town board experience. Jim Messa has seen the worst under Tyksinski; under new leadership, I believe he will best serve the residents in Ward 1.

Thank you Anonymous, whoever you are, whomever you serve. If you are trying to get a word in for the opposing candidate by trying to dis me, you just opened up the floodgate for me to state my position. Sorry if you disagree; the sign will stay. Obviously, you don't know enough about me to realize that I won't back down!

Ouch, right back at you!  Have a nice day!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Town Law 107...

Let me put this in plain English, during the past two (2) administrations, I have not seen a Preliminary Budget that follows the format prescribed in Town Law 107.

Seriously, how can a town board pass a responsible budget when they do not have the information that is required by law and/or needed?

Wed. night, October 18, in Butler Hall (meeting open to the public), the town board will discuss the 2018 Tentative Budget and make any changes they feel are needed to conduct business next year. They could also vote to accept the 2018 Tentative Budget as the 2018 Preliminary Budget and set a date for a public hearing.

The problem is that they have never adopted a town budget that contains the necessary information for making responsible decisions.

Town Law 107 requires that the budget MUST show by funds:
  • Proposed appropriations and estimated revenues by classification of accounts as prescribed by the state comptroller;
  • Estimated fund balances showing the breakdown of such fund balance estimated for encumbrances, amounts appropriated for the ensuing fiscal year's budget, amounts reserved for stated purposes pursuant to law (including reserve funds) and the remaining estimated unappropriated, unreserved fund balance for each fund (which is not to exceed a "reasonable amount");
  • the amount of taxes to be levied;
  • salaries of elected officers; and other information pertinent to the above as may be prescribed by the state comptroller
  • In addition, the budget may provide for general and special contingent purpose and must include any other data that the town board may, by resolution, require.

The above bulleted points are taken directly from the July/August 2011 Talk of the Towns magazine on a page entitled Legal FAQs; The Budget Process; a magazine, by the way, that each member of the board receives every other month; whether they read it or not is questionable.

How can decisions be made going forward when they don't know where they have been or where they currently stand regarding the spending of our tax dollars???

The last point, "...must include any other data that the town board may, by resolution, require" is a chance for the town board to put into a board resolution any other data they feel they need to do a responsible job of budgeting.

Come on, town board, it's your chance to do the right thing for taxpayers!

Besides the items prescribed by Town Law 17, how about a board resolution requiring the Preliminary Budget to contain columns for budget-to-date and a year-end projection for 2017? What is the usefulness of the columns entitled "Amended 2014 Budget" and "2015 Amended Budget"? You are working on the 2018 budget, for crying out loud! The only thing this town board has been given in preparation of the budget each year are "cash only" reports each month which are not even worth the paper they are written on.

Here's a copy of the proposed 2018 Tentative Budget that Tyksinski put together. I made it completely searchable for ease in looking for particular items.

Lord, please give this town board some courage to institute some changes to the budgeting process that are desperately needed; not only changes needed by law, but also changes needed so the budget can be a responsible budget based on facts not fiction!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

First contestant in How Did I Get Here? Me!

I'll start with the $106,165...

In any town budget, personal services is payroll.

I am betting that Public Safety Admin, Pers Serv BP-3010-10 for $106,165 is the Police Chief's salary because I don't think we have any other Administrative employees in the Police Department.

If I am correct, the problem is with the account number used for the NYS Comptroller report. The Police Chief is paid from account #BP-3120-11 according to every town budget I have seen in recent years. I believe that accounts starting with 3010 as was reported by the town in the comptroller report is for the salary expense of 911 employees. But, we will wait...maybe the Finance Department has another explanation.

In looking at the Police Chief budget line and comparing 2015 to 2016...well, there appears to be some discrepancies.

Let me start by saying this has nothing to do with the Police Chief or the police department as a whole. It has everything to do with the Town Supervisor and the Finance Department. The Police Chief submits his budget worksheets to the Town Supervisor and he is basically done...the rest of the budget is done by Tyksinski and Dreimiller with the help of the town board.

I am going to guess that in 2015, the Police Chief's budget worksheets show his anticipated salary to be $103,609 which was the amount in the 2015 Tentative Budget (the first budget that is created by the town supervisor from the budget worksheets submitted by each department).

The next step in the budget process is the Preliminary Budget.  For some reason, the Police Chief's salary was raised to $107,594 in the 2015 Preliminary Budget and it remained at that after the 2015 budget was adopted by the town board.  By the way, the higher expense is the amount that would be used to figure the tax rate for that budget line.

Next, I looked at the 2016 budget for the Police Chief's salary.

In the 2016 Adopted Budget, it shows the 2015 Adopted Budget for the Police Chief's salary as being $103,609; not the $107,594 that was used to figure the tax rate.

See for yourself...here are copies of the 2015 & 2016 budgets with the Police Chief's salary highlighted:
Click on each graphic for a pdf copy

Incidentally, the "actual" expense reported to the state comptroller in 2015 was $103,576 a little less than was originally budgeted in the Tentative Budget.  Doesn't make any sense, does it? It's almost like there was some "slush" money built in once the budget got to the Preliminary stage; and this is only one budget line.  The police department salaries are set by contract; they shouldn't be that difficult to accurately budget.

Next on to the $89,101 unbudgeted expense for Judgements & Claims.

In a budget, Judgements & Claims usually represents expenses for Bond Anticipation Notes (BANS); serial bonds; or possibly judgements against the town, etc.

Looking at the 2016 budget, a BAN principle and interest expense of $110,979 was included on a separate line and tax rates would have been figured on that amount.

However, the 2016 report to the state comptroller only shows BAN principle and interest expense paid of $3,407.

There were also Serial Bond principle and interest expense lines in the 2016 budget of $4,356; yet the state comptroller's report shows a Serial Bond principle and interest expense of $6,700.

Doesn't quite match the budgeted amount used to determine the tax rate, does it?

So that leaves a question of where did the rest of the tax money go and does it have any relation to the $89,101 of unbudgeted expense shown on the comptroller's report as Judgements & Claims?

Coincidentally, $89,101 is also shown as an unbudgeted expense on page 53 of the 2016 Financial Audit of D'Arcangelo.

For clarification, I believe parts of the 2016 Financial Audit were prepared by someone at the town because of this statement on page 2 of D'Arcangelo's audit, and I quote:
Emphasis of Matter

As discussed in Note l to the financial statements, the Town has elected to change its method of reporting the General Fund by combining the General Whole-Town, Part-Town, and Police funds that were considered separate funds in the prior year. The Town considers all activity in these funds to be General Fund activities. The Town added supplemental schedules to the financial statements combining these funds. Our opinion is not modified with respect to this matter.
In other words, that's how Tyksinski got his $3 million dollar fund balance fantasy..by co-mingling funds and it appears that D'Arcangelo does not support that part. I couldn't find anything in the audit that specifically states which parts were prepared by the town...it's all very strange.

So what is the $89,101 of unbudgeted expense reported to the state comptroller?

It might be the lease of police vehicles. If they were done on a lease purchase agreement, the lease is not in keeping with the law and it might be worth asking who thought they had the authority to sign a lease agreement absent town board approval.

Lease purchase agreements are by law supposed to be treated the same as a Bond or BAN by using competitive bidding; a town board bond resolution; and permissive referendum. In other words, in view of the public.

I spoke to Attorney Cully about lease purchase agreement procedures once after a town board meeting. He said he thought he had read that somewhere and would check on it. I have a NYS Comptroller's memo to back me up on this point. If it was done behind closed doors, it was knowingly done contrary to General Municipal Law because the memo I mention was sent to all town finance officers, but I don't want to make any calls on this one just yet. I'll just wait to see the response I get from the town.

I know this is long and probably boring for most people, but I wrote it so that taxpayers could see that they have been "played" by the people that they should have most been able to trust.

Again, no reflection on the police chief or his officers. This is strictly a financial problem within Butler Hall and the police fund was chosen by me to review because it has the least number of budget lines. I can't wait for the reply to my FOIL request!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Everyone ready? Let's Play...

How Did I Get Here?

A game where everyone is left in the dark except perhaps two or maybe three people!

So, as I already mentioned in a previous blog, in view of a new budget season upon us, I have been doing some spreadsheets comparing the revenues and expenses of various funds using figures from the 2016 Adopted Budget; the 2016 Amended Budget (whatever that is; I'll explain later in this blog); against the "supposedly  actual" revenues and expenses reported to the NYS Comptroller in the Annual Update Document that is required to be filed by the town each May for the previous year.

I'll start with the expenses and revenues for the Police Fund only because it is a fund with the least amount of budget lines; therefore, it is the fastest to compare. I decided that based on what I found in this fund, it would tell me whether I needed to continue giving up my free time to do this comparison.

My comparison was quite surprising as I uncovered expenses that were not in the 2016 Adopted Budget and were not in the 2016 Amended Budget, but were in the report to the Comptroller.

These two expenses total almost $200,000. Without an amount budgeted in the 2016 Adopted Budget...How did I get here? That is the question that needs answering.

I FOILed all documentation regarding these two expenses from the town clerk's office early last Thursday and she immediately sent my FOIL request to the Finance office without giving me a date certain I can expect the answer to my FOIL. That would be against the Freedom of Information Law, but lately that has been S.O.P.

As of Friday afternoon closing time, I hadn't received any information from the Finance Office yet. Therefore, I am writing this blog in the chance that it will get someone's attention in the Finance Office or on the second floor of Butler Hall and my request will be expedited...or at least answered within a reasonable timeframe.

Let me explain my findings....

The unbudgeted expenses in question reported to the NYS Comptroller are:
  • Judgements & Claims--------------BP-1930-40 - - $ 89,101
  • Public Safety Admin, Pers Serv----BP-3010-10 - - $ 106,165

How did I get here?

A non-budgeted item cannot be paid until the board decides where the money is going to be transferred from to cover the expense and adopts a resolution allowing for the transfer.

If the town board had approved a budget transfer, these unbudgeted expenses should have shown up in the 2016 Amended Budget column; or so I thought.  However, these expense items ARE NOT accounted for in the 2016 Amended Budget column of the 2018 Tentative Budget nor do they show up as an amendment to the Police Adopted Budget on page 15 of the 2016 Financial Audit performed by D'Arcangelo under "General Fund Budgetary Highlights".

How can that be? How can a total of almost $200,000 of unbudgeted expenses in the 2016 Police Budget not show up as an amendment to the Adopted Police budget in the town's audit performed by D'Arcangelo? What the HELL is going on?

I guess I will have to just sit tight and wait for an explanation from the Finance Office. In the meantime, I will continue with creating spreadsheets as I have already found another unbudgeted expense reported to the state comptroller for the Sewer Fund!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It's Budget Time...

Tyksinski says there is no tax increase in HIS 2018 Tentative Budget.

Sure, Tyk. Why don't you let everyone know how you have been budgeting since 2011; your first official budget for the Town of New Hartford?

Being a numbers person, I have done some computations. Let me share a couple of them...

For example, in 2015, when comparing the budgeted revenues and expenses in the major funds plus the Sewer Fund against the actuals reported in the NYS Comptroller's Annual Update Document for the same funds, revenues were under-estimated and expenses were under-estimated. Guess, that didn't work because in 2016, revenues were once again under-estimated, but this time expenses were over-estimated.

Obviously, everyone knows that a budget is only a prediction of the future and there is always some fluctuation in the budget vs. actuals, but not to the degree of what I found.

Basically, the fund balance that Tyksinski touted in his campaign literature is because YOU, the taxpayer, has been funding the funds. Plus some funds, Sewer Fund for example, have been funding unbudgeted, non-bid expenses. I find it maddening that sewer payers are being charged year after year, when the 2016 D'Arcangelo audit shows a "supposed" Sewer Fund balance of $1,905,035.

The question is...after figuring out the due-to's and due-from's in each fund, where do the town's fund balances truly stand. The NYS Comptroller cited the town in their 2010 Town Audit for excessive Sewer Fund balance. Guess that didn't mean anything to Tyksinski. Remember when he told the newspaper that the Comptroller is only right 50% of the time?? Yeah, sure Tyk!

One of the other problems is that since Tyksinski has been in office, sales tax revenue has been used to offset the Police expenses. Tyksinski apparently figures that by calling the Police a Part-town Fund he can use the sales tax revenue in the Police Fund even though the fund by law does not qualify as a Part-town Fund.

New York Consolidated Laws, Tax Law - TAX § 1262 (f) (4) defines Part-town activities as:
Activities of town government, including highway programs, which are chargeable to the area of the town outside of villages, exclusive of special district purposes, unless such special district is a fire protection district coterminous with the area of a town outside of villages.
Can't get much clearer than that! The Village of New Hartford is included in the Police Dept., but the Village of New York Mills is not; therefore, the Police Fund is not a Part-town fund no matter what name Tyksinski tacks on it. Also, since the Village of NYM has their own police department, New Hartford Police is not a General Wholetown fund either which is the next choice for applying sales tax revenue to offset expenses.

Our Police Department is actually an anomaly; I didn't see a definition for that in the tax law. It's funny because former Councilwoman, Ms. Krupa, (remember her?) sent me an enail in October 2010 agreeing that the sales tax revenue couldn't be used for the Police Fund. Shortly after that email, she sent another one agreeing with Tyksinski that it could be used. Wonder who got to her?

At any rate, without the use of sales tax to offset Police expenses, the town cannot afford the department unless there is a significant tax increase drastically different from what is currently slated under Tyksinski's 2018 Tentative Budget.

I guesstimate that the Police tax rate which was $1.77 per thousand in 2017 would balloon up to $2.84 per thousand for next year (2018)...and that is just for the Police which is more than the total tax rate of all funds in 2017. And, folks, that is just for starters.

In 2011, Tyksinski's first budget & the first time sales tax was used to offset the Police budget, Tyksinski budgeted $689,261 of sales tax to offset Police expenses. However, for 2018, that amount has grown to $1,375,320 of sales tax improperly used to offset Police expenses.

Doing the right thing shouldn't be difficult, but apparently for some people it is. Anyone have an "in" with the NYS Comptroller's office so maybe they will help us out and overlook a little thing like the law?

The town board and the newly-elected supervisor are now left with quite a dilemma! Some tough decisions are going to have to be made...make sure to thank Tyksinski on his way out!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

How did it happen?? The long and the short of it...

It is interesting to note that on page 5 of the town's 2014 Financial Statements prepared by D'Arcangelo it states:
Findings - Financial Statement Audit

2014-01 Willowvale Service Award Program

Condition: During our audit, we noted Willowvale Service Award Program has not been audited since its inception in 2008.

Criteria: Chapter 620 of the Laws of New York, 2006, amends section 219-a of the General Municipal Law and now requires the sponsor or designated program administrator of a Length of Service Award Program to obtain an annual audit by an independent certified public accountant.  A copy of the audit shall be presented to the program sponsor and to the State Comptroller. LOSAP audits must be completed within 270 days of the end of the sponsor's fiscal year. Due to other legislative requirements, those that choose to fulfill this requirement by providing the appropriate service awards program note disclosure as part of the Town's annual audited statements now have 180 days for completing the audit.

Recommendation: The Town needs to establish system of policies and procedures to ensure that the program is monitored by management and ensure that an annual audit is performed and filed as required.
In their letter to the Town Board that year, D'Arcangelo states:
"We consider the deficiencies described in the accompanying schedule of findings and recommendations as items 2014-1 and 2009-1 to be a material weaknesses."
Friends, FYI, a material weakness is "a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the company's annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis".

So basically, even though the town's finances are maintained by two (2) CPA's who audit other towns for a living, neither one knew about the 2006 law change requiring an audit of the program until the 2014 audit by D'Arcangelo, and therefore, no independent person was looking at the financial condition of the Willowvale Length of Service Awards program since its inception in 2008?

But what about 2014, 2015 and 2016 when supposedly D'Arcangelo WAS auditing the LOSAP during the town's annual audit?

Knowing that the program had not been audited since 2008 and declaring it a "material weakness" in 2014, shouldn't the auditors have taken extra care to audit the program in 2014 or was there something else going on? Something that prevented them from seeing the extra money that was being collected from taxpayers each year?

How does a person with no ability to physically review the town books pick up on the discrepancies when an accounting firm who has been hired specifically to audit the books does not?

How can it be that they did not question the extra $20,000+ that taxpayers in the Willowvale Fire Protection District were being charged on their tax bill to "supposedly"cover the program costs?

How did D'Arcangelo account for the difference in what was being collected from the taxpayers against the total of the checks being written by the town to pay the annual invoices particularly when the fund balance of the fire protection districts as a whole was far less than the extra money being wrongly collected for the Service Awards Program?

Were findings in D'Arcangelo's 2016 audit responsible for the correction to the budgeted 2018 tax rate in the Willowvale Fire Protection District? If that was the case, shouldn't the town board have been made aware of the situation and shouldn't a statement have been included in the 2016 audit?

So many questions that probably will never get answered...

Anyway, at the August 2017 meeting, Councilman Woodland asked about the status of going out to bid for an audit of the 2017 town financials and was told that unbeknown to the town board, Director of Finance, Dan Dreimiller, had already sent out requests to certain auditing firms with a return date of September 1.

At the September meeting, the town board was told that the only firm to respond was...D'Arcangelo.

Amazing, the only firm that wants to audit the Town of New Hartford books is the same firm that has been hired each year since Tyksinski took office in 2010; a firm that Tyksinski has bullied the town board into hiring every year even in the years when the town board wanted to do an RFP to solicit other proposals. Hmmm...

Unfortunately, since the proposals were sought without the knowledge of the town board, and at least four (4) town board members had no idea who or how many firms were actually contacted by Dreimiller, the town board decided it would be best to wait until the October 5th meeting to see if more proposals would be forthcoming.

In the meantime, a "little birdie" let members of the town board know that the town's Procurement Policy had very specific rules for hiring a professional firm...that is by using Request for Proposals (RFP).    The town's RFP policy states:
The RFP process is handled in the same manner as the Competitive Bidding process. An approved advertisement is placed in the newspaper. A specification package is prepared (RFP request) and made available including instructions and deadline established. See Section Competitive Bidding.
By the way, the town's Procurement Policy is not an option; it is a requirement under General Municipal Law. For some reason, the "top dogs" of the current administration always seems to have a problem following policies and laws.

Anyway, at the October 5th town board meeting, the board voted to do a "Request for Proposal" to hire an accounting firm to do the 2018 financials.

An ad has been placed on the town's website and should appear in the legal notices of the local newspaper shortly:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the Town Board of the Town of New Hartford, Oneida County, New York will receive Requests for Proposal for Professional Audit Services for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2017, with the option of auditing the financial statements for each of the two subsequent fiscal years December 31, 2018 and 2019.

Parties interested in submitting a Proposal must contact the New Hartford Town Clerk's Office, 48 Genesee Street, New Hartford, NY 13413 during regular business hours (Holiday excepted) for necessary information.

Proposals SHALL be submitted in sealed envelopes not later than 12:00 Noon on Friday, November 3, 2017 at the Finance Director’s Office, 48 Genesee Street, 1st Floor, New Hartford, NY 13413 and shall bear on the face thereof the name and address of the company submitting the Proposal.

Dated: October 6, 2017
Gail Wolanin Young, Town Clerk 
Hopefully, the town board will receive several proposals and be able choose a firm that will provide board members with a thorough and accurate accounting of where the town's finances stand since under Town Law Section 64, General powers of town boards:
1. Control of town finances.  Shall have the general management and control of the finances of the town and shall designate in the manner provided by section ten of the general municipal law the depositories in which the supervisor, town clerk, tax collector, tax receiver, and trustees of the freeholders and commonalty of a town shall deposit and secure all moneys coming into their hands by virtue of their offices.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Corrective Action...

Identification and elimination of the causes of a problem, thus preventing their recurrence.

How many times did I blog about the taxpayers in the Willowvale Fire Protection District "taking one for the Tyk" regarding the amount they were being taxed for the fire company's Length of Service Award Program?

Well, apparently in his parting 2018 town budget, Tyksinski decided (or was persuaded by someone) to try to right his wrong.

Click here to view a larger print pdf!

As you can see by the 2018 Tentative Fire Protection District Budget sheet above, the Willowvale Service Awards Program expense has been reduced to $52,000 from the $71,000 that has been wrongly used to fix the tax rate each year.

Additionally, a $75,000 surplus has been credited to the Willowvale Fire Protection District bringing the tax rate per thousand to $1.9852.

Last year's tax rate was $2.6117 so that is a savings of $.6265 per thousand of assessed value; not bad, eh? I hope that the town board will ask for an accounting of the $75,000 because my records show that the taxpayers in that district have been overtaxed by more than $75,000.

Anyway, I have a copy of the entire 2018 Tentative Budget and I will be sharing more information shortly.

For now, let me leave you with the fact that some tough decisions are going to need to be made by the town board as Paul Miscione gets ready to take over the supervisor position. Even though the budget has been put together each year by two (2) CPAs, there are problems that need to be addressed; some of the budgeting does not conform with state and town laws.

By the way, the 2018 General town tax that Tyksinski said would be slightly reduced...well, as the budget stands right now, it was reduced by $.0028 per thousand, that is, if you don't include the expenses that seem to have been left out of the budget thus far.

Corrective Action Plan start date...January 1, 2018!

On another note, Councilman Jim Messa lead the town board in adopting a resolution to go out to bid for the Grange Hill project. More information and the video of the meeting will be available over the weekend.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Be wary of "friends" bearing gifts...

An article in today's Observer Dispatch quotes Tyksinski as saying:
“There is a slight tax cut,” to the tune of about one-half or one-quarter of a percent for property owners, he said. “Definitely no tax increase.”
Trying to set up Paul Miscione for failure, are we Tyk?

It's funny because just this past week I had a conversation with a friend who wanted to bet me that Tyksinski was going to reduce the tax rate.  No bet there, my friend; that is a given.  Tyksinski has been playing games with the budget since he took office. Why should this year be any different?

For instance, he has been under-estimating sales tax and crying the blues to the town board about the supposed decreasing sales tax revenue.

Really, Tyk? I made a spreadsheet using each year's budgeted sales tax versus the amount of actual sales tax reported to the NYS Comptroller in the Annual Update Document (AUD):

Click on image for larger print pdf

As you can see, each year starting with 2011, which was the first year of Tyksinski's budget, budgeted sales tax revenue has been under-estimated anywhere from $349,000 to $541,000 until the year 2015 which was probably close to what it should be since it is wise to leave some "wiggle room" in case of declining revenue. But then, in 2016, the disparity between actual and budgeted sales tax revenue started to go up again.

Remember though, we are only talking about the under-estimating of revenue in sales tax. Under-estimating revenue means that taxpayers are paying more taxes than needed to offset expenses. This doesn't include the other revenue streams and the expense side of the house; there is a story there too.

But now, the last budget prepared by Tyksinski before he leaves office is going to give you a tax break. Hip, Hip, Hooray!

I have several other reports that will prove that the town is heading for trouble which I will share at a later date.

But, in the meantime, as luck would have it, the NYS Comptroller just made available their fiscal stress calculations.

In 2015, the state comptroller's report ranked the Town of New Hartford 9.6%; in 2016, we were ranked 15.8%. In 2017, we are projected to be 22.1%. Do you see a trend starting to emerge? Of course, please keep in mind that this report is based on the accuracy of the reports submitted to the state comptroller by the town supervisor.

However, let's rejoice because in 2018, according to Tyksinski's budget, we can expect a "slight property tax decrease". Pray tell, Tyk, how much of a decrease are we looking at and how is that possible?

Don't be fooled, my friends. Paul Miscione is going to need your patience as he sorts through the b/s. Don't expect a tax decrease this year; Paul will not be able to afford a tax increase until he knows the true status of the town. He has some great plans on the horizon. I hope you will join me in wishing Paul the best and give him a chance to get a handle on the town's finances.

One last thing...

The last sentence in the Observer Dispatch article regarding New Hartford's 2018 budget is:
The New Hartford tentative budget will be presented at Thursday’s board meeting.
Gee, with such good news about a property tax cut for 2018, it is surprising that the meeting is on a Thursday instead of Wednesday, the normal meeting day.

I am also surprised that Tyksinski waited to release his "good news" budget until the last day town law allows for the supervisor's budget to be released to the town board.

What is he really hiding?

It's time to corral those flying pigs!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Snarky; cranky; irritable...

...yup, that pretty much sums up Tyksinski's attitude at the September 13, 2017 town board meeting.

I'm sure it must be difficult to lose an election particularly when you are so arrogant that you think it's YOUR TOWN and you can't be beat.

However, Paul Miscione will be the Town Supervisor as of January 1, 2018. Congratulations, Paul!

Enough said on that subject.

On a more positive note, kudos to Councilman Reynolds for looking into the "real" process for introducing a change to the town's solar code. Dave asked that the town board pass a resolution to be the lead agency for SEQR; a resolution to that effect was adopted by the town board.

Next, the proposed change to the town code goes on to the Planning Board; the town clerk has been asked to take care of that part.

Town Code says "the Planning Board shall submit its report within 45 days after receiving such referral. Failure of the Planning Board to report within the required time shall be deemed to be a recommendation of approval of the proposed amendment."

The town board then has to hold a Public Hearing before the code change can be acted on. I will update everyone on this blog as to the date and time of the Public Hearing.

On another positive note, I am also told that the town website is in for an overhaul to make it more informative and user-friendly. Yeah!! Transparency...something for town residents to look forward to in the coming year(s)!

Without further ado, here is the September 13, 2017 town board meeting:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Republican Primary today! Be sure to vote!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Solar Energy...I don't want it; therefore you can't have it!

...so says Tyksinski!

As predicted in my O Sole Mio blog on August 15, 2017, you will not see a change in the current 10 kw allowable solar energy town code until and unless Tyksinski is no longer the town supervisor. He doesn't want solar in HIS town, period!

If you remember, Councilman Reynolds brought a revised town code to the August 9, 2017 town board meeting which would have allowed up to 25 kw of solar energy for your home. Councilman Reynolds explained to the town board that the new code was based on NYS Solar Energy Law.

After some discussion, the town board adopted a resolution at the August 9th town board meeting to hold a public hearing on the new code at the September 13, 2017 town board meeting. As soon as the public meeting was held, the town board could have adopted the new code as a local law.

If you watch Tyksinski's facial expressions and mannerisms in the video of the August 15th blog as Councilman Reynolds introduced the new code, it is quite apparent that Supervisor Tyksinski would not let that code change take place during his reign.

So how does he stop it when he knows full well that he has four (4) councilmen that are in favor of the change because that is what their constituents are telling them they need to make solar energy a viable choice for their home? You merely never let it get before the town Planning Board. Under New Hartford Town Code, without the Planning Board's report, the local law to change the code will not go beyond the town board table as a draft. Clever, don't you think?

The proposed zoning change could have been presented at the last Planning Board meeting on August 14, 2017. There was plenty of time to get it to the Planning Board since the new code was already written down on paper at the August 9, 2017 town board meeting. However, it was not an agenda item at that Planning Board meeting.

Here is a copy of the proposed local law that I FOILed from the town clerk.

Even though it wasn't presented to the Planning Board on August 14th, the Planning Board was scheduled to meet on September 11, 2017 so there was still a chance that the Planning Board could review the new code in time for the next town board meeting so that the Public Hearing could be held at the start of the September 13th meeting.

But as luck would have it, the September 11, 2017 Planning Board meeting has been cancelled due to a lack of agenda items. So, the public hearing will probably not take place on September 13th. Looks like that solar energy code change that several residents were hoping to get has been temporarily stalled!

As I predicted in my previous blog, Tyksinski will stall until after the September 12, 2017 Republican Primary so the voters in New Hartford don't get upset knowing that he has no plans to update the town's zoning laws on solar energy.

After the Primary, if he wins, he may stall the updated solar energy code so that it never gets changed!

Looking for a change in the town's solar energy code to allow up to 25 kw of solar energy for your home?

Tired of Supervisor Tyksinski bullying the councilmen; withholding documents; meeting behind closed doors; and running the town as his own little "fiefdom"?

You have a choice on September 12, 2017.

If you are tired of living in Tykville, vote for Councilman Paul Miscione to be the next town supervisor!

Republican Primary - September 12th.

Friday, September 1, 2017

FEMA Buy-out Program...

On August 29, 2017, the New Hartford Town Board held a meeting to address possible questions from the owners of the fourteen (14) homes affected by the FEMA Buy-Out Program and instruct them as to the procedures going forward.

Here is the video of that meeting:

Even though Tyksinski tried to call it an informational meeting instead of a town board meeting open to the general public, you will notice all four (4) councilmen were in attendance that evening. Even the town attorney and a county legislator were also present!

After I was given information that all the councilmen were planning on being there to represent their Ward, I advertised the meeting on this blog and informed the town clerk that the meeting had to be open because town councilmen would be present. I was told that she was only doing what she was told. Apparently, she was told to only put the notice on the doors at Butler Hall.

Why would Tyksinski ever believe all the councilmen wouldn't want to be there to discuss the FEMA buy-out with their constituents? Why wouldn't he want them all there?

Call it what you want, Tyk...it is a meeting open to the public when at least 3 out of 5 town board members are present to discuss town business!

Open Meetings Law, Tyk; it's a beautiful thing!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Special Town Board meetings seem to be the norm in New Hartford, N.Y..

Lately, Tyksinski seems to feel the need to call last minute 5 p.m. meetings behind closed doors without notice to the public.

Perhaps that is an indication that one meeting a month is insufficient for conducting town business or perhaps it's just his way of doing town business out of the view of the public while he makes "deals" to garner support in an election year.

On June 26, 2017 such a meeting was called with the only notice to the public, once again, being a notice taped to the door of Butler Hall. It was not until the minutes were approved for the meeting that the public could have known of the meeting since there was no indication on the town website that a meeting would be taking place.

I don't know about anyone else, but my day does not include a visit to Butler Hall to read any notice that might be posted on the door. They know better; the meeting should be posted on the town website and sent to the paper.

This meeting involved what is being termed in the approved minutes as "Side Letter Agreements" between the town and the Police Benevolent Association; and the town and Chief Inserra.

Here are the meeting minutes:

Click on graphic to read all five (5) pages of the agreement

Where is the emergency that this could not wait to be noticed to the public or couldn't wait until the July 12th meeting?

There is only one reason why Tyksinski would call a town board meeting without noticing the public...they don't want you to know about it!

Now you know!


Monday, August 28, 2017

Reminder...Special Town Board Meeting...


Here is the video of the discussion regarding the FEMA Buyout Program at the August 9, 2017 town board meeting:

Also discussed at the August 9, 2017 town board meeting was the ravine owned by Judy Cusworth:

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Grange Hill Drainage Project.....

On August 24, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. the town board met in a Special Meeting to review the bids received for the Repair Work, Equipment and Operator Rental 1-Year Contract that was recently advertised for bidding.

According to the information provided to me by the town clerk at the meeting, six (6) people picked up bid sheets, but only four (4) bids were submitted according to the information that the town clerk handed me at the meeting.

The low bid, which was accepted by the town board, was from James Bray Paving, 1025 Newport Road, Utica, NY 13502.

Here is the videotape of the meeting:

Toward the end of the meeting, Councilman Messa asked about the Spinella contract for the Grange Hill Drainage project and was told that it is almost ready to go; there was no indication whether or not the contract would be brought before the town board to authorize Tyksinski to sign it or whether Tyksinski would just take upon himself to sign the contract without board authorization.

Interesting facts about the Grange Hill Project.

The project went out to bid for the second or third time in late February 2017 with a March 6, 2017 bid opening. The bids were brought before the town board at the March 8, 2017 town board meeting.
All were rejected because they were deemed to be too high. According to the minutes (which you can view here), Tyksinski said the town's contracted engineer thought they would come in around $800,000 but they came in around $930,000.

The video of the March 8, 2017 meeting will show that the consensus was to wait until the Fall to rebid the Grange Hill project because they felt the price would be cheaper and there would still be plenty of time to complete the project..

On March 14, 2017, Oneida County put out an Invitation to Bid for Construction Materials, Groups 6, 7, 8, & 11, which is the bid that the town now wants to piggy-back off using Spinella to do the Grange Hill Project.

The closing date of the Oneida County bid was March 28, 2017.

The winners of the County bid were announced on April 17, 2017, after the Town of New Hartford April board meeting which was on April 12, 2017 so the town probably would not know prior to their April meeting if Spinella won the Oneida County bid.

However, at the May 10, 2017 town board meeting, Tyksinski asked the board to adopt a $900,000 Grange Hill Stormwater Project bond; which the town board did adopt. Funny how $900,000 is the amount of bonding needed in May to do the Grange Hill project, without the benefit of any further bidding figures to work with, when in March $930,000 was too high.

At any rate, on June 30, 2017, the town once again asked for bids for the Grange Hill Project. This time, four (4) people picked up bid packets, but only one (1) person submitted a bid. Mr. Spinella was one of the contractors who picked up a packet, but did not bid the Grange Hill project.

Surprise, surprise!

Lo and behold, the one (1) bid received, after much discussion and arm twisting by Supervisor Tyksinski, was deemed to be too high and was rejected.

However, Tyksinski had "a plan". The town could piggy-back off the county bid and use...Mr. Spinella. Apparently, Mr. Spinella emailed Tyksinski after the July 10, 2017 Grange Hill Drainage Project bid opening and said he could do the job for no more than $350,000.

At the July 12, 2017 town board meeting when Tyksinski laid out his "plan", he said Spinella could do the job for even less than $350,000 if some town employees were used. Really?

Let's see, if town employees are used, then Mr. Spinella wouldn't have to hire anyone to help him so he would be able to not worry about the Prevailing Wages Law like the other person who submitted the rejected bid. That would probably make his bid offer much lower than a contractor that had to abide by labor laws.

Lucky thing Mr. Spinella submitted a bid to get on the Oneida County bid list in March!

Wait a minute, folks! Here's the problem...

General Municipal Law 103 (3), which Attorney Cully is using to support the town's use of piggy-backing, states:
No officer, board or agency of a political subdivision or of any district therein shall make any purchase or contract for any such services through the county in which the political subdivision or district is located or through any county within the state when bids and offers have been received for such purchase or such services by such officer, board or agency, unless such purchase may be made or the contract for such services may be entered into upon the same terms, conditions and specifications at a lower price through the county. (emphasis added)
The county bid that the town wants to piggy-back on DOES HAVE some technical requirements attached to it!

As luck would have it, I just happen to have a copy of the "Technical Specifications for Rental of Equipment " used by Oneida County for BID #1896.

They are, and I quote:

Oneida County is required under Section 220 of the Labor Law to receive and maintain monthly transcripts of certified payroll during the life of the contract and maintain same for 3 years from completion of work.

Please forward your copies by the 15th OF EACH MONTH TO:

Oneida County Purchasing Dept.
800 Park Avenue
Utica, NY 13501

Please include the name of project and the project number with each mailing. The contracting department will need to notify Purchasing in writing when a project is completed and the completion date. Prevailing Wage rates: as printed on-line 1-15-16. Please refer to the Dept. of Labor Project # PRC 2016000484 Oneida County for all rates following this page.
I do believe that the county considers their bid, BID #1896 Construction Materials, to be a public work under the NYS Labor Law Article 8 (Construction). While the General Municipal law allows piggy-backing on Article 8 county bids, the town still has to comply with the Prevailing Wages Law, and NYS Labor Law Section 220: Hours,Wages, Supplements.

So town board and Attorney Cully, if Mr. Spinella's contract that the town plans to negotiate does not include provisions for the above terms of the county bid, the town cannot legally piggy-back off this particular county bid.

Mr. Spinella's signed contract with the town for the Grange Hill Drainage Project with a total price of "not to exceed $350,000" must contain the same provisions as the county bid. Also, since the use of town (or in this case, county) employees was not part of the original town or county bid specs, the use of town employees cannot be part of Mr. Spinella's contract. I suggest that the town go back to the drawing board and this time fairly and lawfully bid out for the project.

On Another Note...

I visited the town clerk's office on Friday to view some financial data that I will report on soon. Anyway, posted on the door to Butler Hall was the following:
A special meeting will be held on Tuesday evening, August 29, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.in the Community Room on the ground floor of Butler Hall with town residents who have been approved for the FEMA buyout program.
 I am told that all the town board members plan to attend so that makes it a meeting open to the public!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Knock three times....

There will be a "special" town board meeting Thursday, August 24, 2017 starting at 5:00 p.m. in Butler Hall.

The possibility of a special meeting was mentioned at the August 9, 2017 town board meeting, but I hadn't seen it advertised anywhere including the town's wonderful website, but we placed a call to the town clerk's office this morning and were advised that signs for the meeting are posted on the front and back doors of Butler Hall.

Wonderful! Like town residents normally visit Butler Hall each day and would see the signs typed on a letter-size sheet of paper that is taped to the front and back doors! What are these people thinking?

Just in case Butler Hall is not one of your regularly scheduled stops each day, I posted the information here!

One item to be discussed is the bids for the Repair Work, Equipment & Operator Rental - 1 Year Contract bid notice in the August 13, 2017 Observer Dispatch.

This special meeting is open to the public and is slated to be held in the downstairs room of Butler Hall.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark"

--a line from the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare.

--An officer of the palace guard says this after the ghost of the dead king appears,walking over the palace walls.

--A phrase often used to describe a situation in which something is wrong.

On Tuesday, August 15, 2017, I sent a FOIL request to the town clerk asking to view an original, spiral-bound Final 2016 Financial Statements & Audit performed by D'Arcangelo.

Technically, I didn't need to send a FOIL request because by law financial records must be available for public view in the town clerk's office during regular business hours.

To my surprise, it would appear that the town clerk does not have an original; she is asking any board member who has a copy to make it available in her office.

I already have spoken to two (2) board members who told me they have tried to get a copy, but have basically been ignored. Any town board member would include Supervisor Tyksinski, yet it would appear that either he doesn't have one or he is not making it available. That in itself seems strange!

I have already stated in a previous blog that some of the pages in the 2016 final audit performed by D'Arcangelo would, to a reasonable person, seem to be either altered or sloppily put together by D'Arcangelo. Not good!

At the August 9, 2017 town board meeting, Councilman Woodland mentioned the fact that he would like to go out to bid to hire an auditor for 2018. To the surprise of everyone, Supervisor Tyksinski said that Dan Dreimiller, the town's Finance Officer, had already put out Requests for Proposals (RFP) with a return date of September 1.

This in itself seems quite odd, since I have already blogged, Note to New Hartford Town Councilmen, about the fact that each year the town board brings up their desire to RFP and each year, until now, Tyksinski has used some excuse to continue on with D'Arcangelo. So it is quite obvious that something is up!

Did D'Arcangelo finally begin to realize that they have been duped all these years?

Were they one of the firms sent an RFP or did they tell Tyksinski to stick it where the sun don't shine?

Anyway, getting back to my subject. I will be filing a FOIL appeal next week regarding the "missing" original copy of the 2016 audit and on one other FOIL request that has been unanswered since July 14, 2017.

Stay tuned...this should be interesting! One way or another, I will be letting everyone know what appears to be out of order in the copy of the 2016 audit I was sent and Supervisor Tyksinski certified is a true copy of the original audit.

Sure it is, Tyk! How come you still have not uploaded a copy for your Continuing Disclosure as required under the Securities & Exchange Commission rules?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

O Sole Mio with English translation...

What a wonderful thing a sunny day
The serene air after a thunderstorm
The fresh air, and a party is already going on…
What a wonderful thing a sunny day.

Subtitle of the blog...if you think it's going to be easy getting solar energy while Tyksinski is in office, THINK AGAIN!

At the August 9, 2017 town board meeting, Councilman Reynolds finally brought forth the recommended changes to the solar energy code for the Town of New Hartford. If you remember, Councilman Reynolds asked to form a committee to review the current solar energy code.

As I have written many times, people are desirous of using solar energy, but New Hartford's code only allows 10 kw of solar energy which is not enough to make it cost effective for the average homeowner.

Tyksinski said he has no problem with solar energy (watch his mannerisms on the video below) and the board voted to hold a public hearing at the September 13, 2017 town board meeting. September 13 would be the day after the Republican Primary and Supervisor Tyksinski is hoping to get your vote to stay in office for a third term. Saying he is against updating the town's solar energy code wold not be wise and he knows it!

Here's the problem, folks...

Before a public hearing can be held regarding a local law, town code states:
Report of Planning Board.

A. All proposed amendments, supplements or changes originating by petition or by motion of the Town Board shall be referred to the Planning Board for a report and recommendation thereon. In undertaking such review, the Planning Board shall make inquiry and provide recommendation concerning the items specified below:

(1) Whether such change is consistent with the purposes embodied in this chapter as applied to the particular districts concerned.
(2) Whether adequate public services and other support facilities exist or can be created to serve the needs of any additional development that may occur as a result of such change.
(3) The indirect implications of such change in its effect on other regulations.
(4) Whether such proposed amendment is consistent with the underlying objectives of the Town Comprehensive Plan.
(5) Whether such proposed amendment is consistent with the character of the community.

B. The Planning Board shall submit its report within 45 days after receiving such referral. Failure of the Planning Board to report within the required time shall be deemed to be a recommendation of approval of the proposed amendment.
That's right, all changes to town code have to be presented to the Planning Board for their recommendation before the town can proceed.  No mention of that fact at the town board meeting!

I attended last night's Planning Board; discussion of the proposed changes could have been part of the agenda, but apparently there was no effort to make it happen. One would think if Tyksinski was truly in favor of changing the code, last night was his chance to prove it. But, there was no mention of the proposed solar energy code changes.

At the end of the Planning Board meeting, the town attorney did question "what about the 3rd item for the agenda?"

He was told there is no third item. Was the town attorney under the impression that the local law was going to be presented to the Planning Board last night? I don't know.

Do I believe that Tyksinski is going to do everything in his power to stall Councilman Reynolds proposed changes? You bet I do!

According to the Planning Board secretary, so far there are no items filed that would require a September Planning Board meeting to be scheduled, but it is still early. Will there be a Planning Board meeting prior to the September 13th town board meeting? It's doubtful!

With careful planning on Tyksinski's part, he could play "delay games" until after the November election when he might feel safe to vote "no". If you have watched town board meeting movies, you will see that he is definitely not in favor, but he was "forced" to say "he has no problem with it" at the town board meeting because he knows he was being recorded.

Anyway, good job Councilman Reynolds! The people want these changes...Tyksinski can delay the adoption of the law, but he is only 1 of 5 votes so he can't stop it from happening.

Here is a copy of the proposed local law that I FOILed from the town clerk this morning.

Here's the portion of the meeting regarding the proposed solar energy town code changes:

I will venture a guess that the cause of the delay Tyksinski recites at the next town board meeting is because the town's contracted engineers, Barton & Loguidice, did not get back to Tyksinski in time (wink, wink) so Tyksinski couldn't get the local law to the Planning Board for review. Therefore, there will not be a September 13, 2017 Public Hearing.

I will keep everyone informed of the public hearing date, if and when it is scheduled.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Say What, Tyk?

At the July 12, 2017 town board meeting, Tyksinski led the town board down a dark road and left the residents affected by flooding in the Grange Hill Road area under water!

Tyksinski talked the board into rejecting the one legitimate bid for the project; convinced them there was no time to re-bid the project and presented his "Plan" for how the work could be completed.

Councilman Richard Woodland asked Tyksinski why Spinella did not bid for the work; Tyksinski replied he didn't know about the bidding until it was too late to submit a bid.

Councilman Reynolds interjected...Twice?

Tyksinski replied, "Twice, what?" Councilman Reynolds said, "Twice he had the opportunity to bid it and he didn't?" Tyksinski shrugged his shoulders.

Finally, the board caved in to Tyksinski's bully tactics used to convince them to hire Spinella by "piggy-backing" off the county list; the "plan" was adopted.

Problem is, as reported in the Observer Dispatch, the town cannot "piggy-back" off the county for the job.

Here is the snippet of the town board interaction on July 12, 2017 with Tyksinski saying Spinella didn't know about the bid until it was too late:

Truth is, Mr. Spinella did pick up a bid packet on July 3, 2017; a week before the bid opening on July 10, 2017 and the same day as the one legitimate bidder picked up his bid packet! Spinella had more than enough time to submit his bid; but he didn't.

Instead, according to the Observer Dispatch article, Spinella supposedly sent an email to Tyksinski and behind the scenes a plan was developed to reject the one bid and sign a contract for Mr. Spinella to do the work.

They have a name for that where I grew up...

The town board was duped by the two people they should have been able to trust and the Grange Hill Project is now on hold until who knows when!

When the town attorney and town supervisor sit at the head of the table and give assurances to town councilmen that what the councilmen are being asked to adopt is legal, the councilmen have little choice but to accept their recommendation. If the councilmen can't trust the two most experienced people at the board table to give them sound advice, who can they trust? This is not the first time that town board members have been given misinformation in order to sway a vote the way Tyksinski wants it to go.

Below is the entire video of the Grange Hill Road project bid. I have already posted it once; if you haven't viewed it yet, I urge you should to take the time to listen to how Tyksinski pushes the board to do his bidding even if it is not in keeping with law.

Perhaps they do not realize that I have been attending board meetings for many years. I know that the town clerk requires all contractors who pick up bid packets to fill out a form so she can keep track of who has picked up a bid vs. who submits one. It took a simple FOIL request to get the information I needed.  Who picked up a bid packet?

If you are a Republican voter in the Town of New Hartford, I would advise that you make sure to vote at the September 12, 2017 Republican Primary and send a message to Tyksinski.

Change is needed at the head of the table! Get out and vote!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

To market, to market...

Subtitle...How many bid openings does it take to get just the "right" bid?

Let's face it...the Aug. 8 stormwater informational meeting was merely a "dog and pony" show during an election year.

Over the past several years, the town board has had three (3) separate bid openings for the Grange Hill Road Project; a project that has been promised, but not delivered on.

Supervisor Tyksinski assured everyone at the August 8, 2017 Stormwater Informational Meeting that he feels their pain. Sure he does! How do you explain that the last bid on the Grange Hill Road project was once again rejected on July 12, 2017; eleven days after the July 1 stormwater devastation that left some residents homeless!

But, this time on July 12, 2017, Tyksinski had "a plan"...he received an email from Mr. Spinella with an offer Tyksinski just couldn't refuse!

After assurances from the town attorney and town supervisor that it is proper to "piggyback" on the county bids for the job, town board members voted to go with a yet to be prepared contract with Spinella for about half the price quoted by the lone bidder; a contract that to-date has never appeared before the town board for approval.

By now, I am sure you have read two articles in the Observer Dispatch that pretty much sums up the situation regarding the Spinella contract. The project can't be done that way! It has to go out to bid! Of course, unless Tyksinski comes up with another "plan".

So, no one will probably be surprised when I tell you that another bid for stormwater clean-up, this time “Emergency Response Contract - July 2017 Storm Damage”, was opened; accepted and before the night ended was rejected at the August 9, 2017 town board meeting! Why?

First, they accepted the low bidder which was recommended by Supervisor Tyksinski which is quite unusual that Tyksinski makes that recommendation when his favorite bidder is not the low bid. The vote was unanimous to accept the low bidder.

The board meeting continued with several other pieces of town business being discussed.

Several minutes later, the topic turned to the auditing of the town bills for payment and the town councilmen were questioning the lack of the town supervisor's signature to pay some bills for other emergency work.

I guess the town attorney was scrutinizing the bid sheets while other town business was being discussed because, the town attorney, Herb Cully, started questioning Councilman Paul Miscione regarding the fact that he believed the low bid which was already accepted did not comply with the bid sheet.

I am surprised that a July 24, 2017 bid opening was not scrutinized prior to the low bid being accepted at an August 9, 2017 town board meeting, but apparently it wasn't.

The questioning continued with the highway superintendent being called to the front of the room. For a few minutes, I thought I was sitting in a court gallery watching the proceeding of a court case involving town bidding procedures.

There seemed to be a lot of confusion at the table as to how to proceed; Tyksinski didn't really have much to say.

However, it did appear that the other three bidder's paperwork apparently did meet the town attorney's approval and were in line with the bid specs.

Councilman Messa asked, if the low bidder really didn’t fill out the bid sheets properly, but the other bidders did, why can’t we reject that bid and take the next low bid. The next low bid would have been...you guessed it...Spinella.

After much discussion back and forth, the board decided to reject all the bids because it was determined that the bid specs were “lacking; wanting; and not clear”. I would have guessed that a firm like Barton & Loguidice would have the ability to write a proper bid spec given that the highway superintendent gave them direction, but I guess not. The bid spec which was used for the initial bidding was not available at the town board meeting; only a copy of the new bid specs.

Anyway, the board decided to reject the first bids and go back out to bid again with the new, more concise bid specs. Tyksinski tentatively scheduled an August 24th “special” meeting to vote on the new bid; said meeting will either be in the board room or in Tyksinski's office. I wonder if holding a board meeting in the supervisor's office is in line with the Opening Meetings Law? It always amazes me when Tyksinski and Cully decide to be picky about seeing that town business is conducted in compliance with laws.

The bids were not totally disclosed to the public, but Councilman Miscione was concerned that once again the bids are known to the bidders which could skew the next bidding. Right you are, Councilman Miscione!

How many times do bids have to be requested, rejected and re-bid before no one bids on projects in New Hartford except Mr. Spinella? This is getting to be the normal way bids are conducted in the Town of New Hartford and it is disturbing. Bidding in our town has become a comedy routine, except that it isn’t funny. Just by watching the town supervisor's demeanor as these discussions take place, there is little doubt that there is something going on. What a clusterduck!

Here's the video of that portion of the August 9, 2017 board meeting. You be the judge, if you can follow their reasoning!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Play It Again, Tyksinski!!

Compared to the number of residents who were affected by the July 1, 2017 rain storm, it was a rather small crowd who attended last night's informational stormwater meeting held at the Willowvale Fire Company. Those that attended were there to get answers as to how the town plans to proceed in solving several stormwater flooding problems.

Supervisor Tyksinski said he has a "plan"; he always has a "plan". He had a plan in 2011 when everyone was gathered at the Donovan Building to hear his spiel. The video of the 2011 informational meeting is at the bottom of this blog.

It's now 2017, we have had more flooding events and the rainstorms aren't getting any less severe; the same people are still getting flooded.

All this reminds me of the letter the former highway superintendent, Roger Cleveland, sent to Robert Maciol who was then the Mayor of New York Mills. Dated July 25, 2007, it says in part:
"You should be aware that starting with the Sangertown Square project in the 1970's, each and every economic development project has undergone scrutiny by the Planning Board as regards stormwater management. In each case, state of the art stormwater management design was required of the developers. Individually, each project conforms to those designs yet collectively something else has happened to at least make it appear that the designs don't function, or at least don't function sufficiently to attenuate downstream flooding."
You don't say, Roger! Here's is Roger Cleveland's 2007 letter in its entirety.

Perhaps someone should make this letter available to the Planning Board before they vote to allow Larry Adler to build a Jiffy Lube in a floodplain across the street from Panera's!

I hate to say it, but it is obvious that the fixes in all parts of New Hartford aren't working and haphazardly throwing more money at it does not appear to be the answer. The town apparently needs better leadership who can tackle the problems without trying to get jobs and favors for their friends.

I'll get off my soapbox for now so you can listen to last night's informational meeting.

Here is Supervisor Tyksinski and other politicians discussing "duh plan":

For those that might have missed the May 18, 2011 discussion held at the Donovan Community Center after the April 2011 flooding, here it is:

Need I say more?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Public presentations at the July 12, 2017 town board meeting...

For those interested, I have posted the beginning part of the July 12, 2017 town board meeting starting with the public portion of the meeting.

Once again, on July 1, 2017, town residents suffered severe stormwater damage. The room in Butler Hall was packed with homeowners, mainly from the Chadwicks area of town, and they were there to ask what the town plans to do to alleviate their problems.

I previously posted the last part of the July 12th meeting (after most of the residents left) with the town supervisor bullying the town board to adopt a resolution to use "piggy-backing" on the Oneida County bid list instead of re-bidding for the Grange Hill Project as required by law.

Unfortunately, (it's hard to believe that the town supervisor and attorney didn't know) the county bids cannot be used and the project is once again under review. Had the town supervisor done what he should have done instead of trying to send work to his buddy; the project could have gone out for another bid which could have been opened in time for acceptance at the August 9, 2017 meeting. But that's another story...you can read about it in my previous two blogs.

At any rate, the town website has an announcement that one (1) appointed and two (2) elected representatives are holding an informational meeting at the Willowvale Fire Dept. tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. to "discuss stormwater issues in the Town of New Hartford".

Who knows what plans await everyone this time; but the town supervisor did sell a $900,000 bond anticipation note to be used for the Grange Hill Project...when the bidding is finally done properly.

The meeting is open to the public.

For further information; please contact Town Supervisor Patrick Tyksinski at 315.733.7500 EXT. 2332

Here is the video:

Town residents should vote for Supervisor Tyksinski on September 12th, WHY???

Friday, July 28, 2017

Today's article in the Observer Dispatch...

reminded me of an old joke...

How can you tell if a politician is lying?

--Their lips are moving!

Anyone that follows this blog knows that the $3 million dollar fund balance reported in the Observer Dispatch article is tomfoolery!

Of course, if you are trying to make people believe that you are an accounting genius as part of your re-election campaign, as Tyksinski is trying to do, you would combine three (3) funds, as Tyksinski requested the auditors do for the 2016 audit, so that it gives the appearance that the town is doing well under Tyksinski's watch.

However, the three (3) fund balances are not normally combined when speaking of general fund balance because two of the funds represent assigned monies.

According to the audit:
"Assigned- Includes amounts that are constrained by the Town's intent to be used for specific purposes, but are neither restricted nor committed. Intent is expressed by (a) the Town Board or (b) the designated official, such as the Town's Purchasing Agent, to which the Board has delegated the authority to assign amounts to be used for specific purposes. The remaining fund balances in the Police, Highway Part Town, Sewer, and Non-Major funds are assigned fund balances."
The funds are considered assigned because the dollars are collected from different tax bases; in this case Tyksinski combined Police and Part town with the General Wholetown. The fund balance is generally regarded as the balance in the General Wholetown only; however, that would give an entirely different picture of the town's finances.

The audit actually shows that the General Wholetown fund balance that is Unassigned or spendable for any town expense totals $1,897,699.

From that balance, one needs to subtract the amount due to the Sewer Fund of $764,530; leaving a fund balance of $1,133,169; NOT $3,000,000. AND, that is dependent upon all other numbers in the audit being correct! (I doubt it!)

The million dollar surplus is also a combination of all funds including funds that are assigned so it really is not a surplus that can be spent for any purpose. The town actually spent more than it received in revenues for 2016 according to the audit.

Now let's look at Tyksinski's and Town Attorney Cully statements to the Observer Dispatch regarding the non-bid spending:
"The draft includes a finding that a collection of stormwater drainage improvements and other small jobs — totaling $500,850 as handled by a single contractor — did not adhere to the town’s bidding policy and did not have proper emergency approval."

"Tyksinski, however, said the finding was “wrong.” The town, according to Town Attorney Herbert Cully, then used a process called job order contracting to hire a contractor for a period of time to handle jobs as needed at a fixed price."

“When we had the final exit conference (with the auditors), that was my opportunity to provide the information to them to show why it was not a correct finding, and that’s what we did,” Tyksinski said."
Tyksinski & Cully must be referring to a resolution passed by the town board in April 2014 because there has not been any other adopted resolution on the subject since 2014.

RESOLVED that the Town Board of the Town of New Hartford does hereby retain the services of the following excavators for storm drainage work in fiscal year 2014 at the hourly rate of One Hundred Thirty-five Dollars ($135) per hour:

• John Spinella Excavating Co., 3274 Martin Road, Clinton, NY 13323
• L.P. Trucking & Excavation, Inc., 8290 Gore Road, Rome, NY 13440
• Roberts Construction of Upstate New York, Inc., 115 Genesee Street, New Hartford, NY 13413
The resolution is quite specific that the excavators named are to be used for 2014; according to General Municipal Law, non-bid contracts can only be for a twelve month period and can only be used if the sum total of the work to be paid in a twelve month period is NOT over the $35,000 threshold for public works or the work must be formally bid.

According to the draft audit, Spinella was paid $500,850 for non-bid work in 2016 which is well over the $35,000 threshold; the 2016 audit would not include the amount paid in 2015.

Attorney Cully and Tyksinski know very well that there was a whole discussion at the board table which ended in the town's procurement policy being clarified and updated.  That was when they tried to get the town board to approve Spinella's invoices that according to Tyksinski were FEMA-related even though there was no storm damage reported in 2015 or 2016.  It's all on the blog including videos.

I wonder what b/s they used to convince D'Arcangelo to omit this finding from their final 2016 audit. The town board needs to immediately put out bid requests for a different auditing firm for 2018!

By the way, it's funny that the final 2016 audit still has not been provided to the Securities & Exchange Commission as required.  Wonder if they will submit it after they sell the $900,000 bond anticipation notes on August 1, 2017?