Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wonder what changed their mind?

During tonight's town board meeting, the four (4) councilman refused to make a motion to pay the bills. Of course, without a motion and affirmative majority vote of the town board, the town supervisor would not be authorized to pay the bills.

Enter the town attorney who asked the board to vote to enter executive session to discuss two (2) court cases against the town.

Several minutes later, the executive session ended and the public portion of the meeting was resumed. a well rehearsed play...
...the town supervisor once again asked if the the councilmen were ready to vote to pay the bills.

This time, rather hesitantly, almost as if they were afraid to say "no", they asked the town attorney to recite the wording for the resolution that was to be approved.

Wow...discussion relating to paying bills is not a reason to go into executive session. Obviously, however, it was discussed anyway.

Basically, they voted to approve all the bills except for some that are FEMA related.

That is interesting indeed because a phone call was made to my home last week. A concerned resident was asking questions regarding some work being done by a certain excavating company supposedly even using town equipment according to the caller. However, no bids had been entertained prior to the work being performed.

FEMA is very particular about a municipality obtaining bids for work to be done using FEMA money. They have in some cases refused to reimburse towns for the failure to solicit bids previous to letting out work.

One would think by now the town board would realize that. Last fall Tyksinski asked the town board to pass a resolution declaring some work being done by the same excavator "an emergency" after FEMA started questioning the bid requirements being ignored by the town board. That time, without hesitation, the town board obliged the supervisor.

Looks like we may very well have another "emergency" situation this time? Might be a good idea for the town board to review the process for emergency work; there is a very specific process outlined in the town's Procurement Policy. Not every job is an emergency, Supervisor Tyksinski! We will have to wait to see how this one plays out!

Wonder if the donation made to the town supervisor's re-election campaign had anything to do with the jobs being sent the donor's way? Hmmmm.....

At any rate, also discussed during the public portion of the meeting was the possibility of the town building new offices behind the library and the fees for non-residents to use Town of New Hartford parks...Sherrillbrook, Chadwicks and Washington Mills. I will be blogging on these topics and posting the video over the next few days.

By the way, mark your calendar; the public hearing for the local law needed to start charging the park fees will be held at the next town board meeting on March 9, 2016.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Documents re: Byrne Dairy Relocation...

At the beginning of December, I received a request for information on the proposed relocation of Byrne Dairy from Genesee Street to Campion Road from a person who wrote via our Anonymous Tipline.

Since we do not ask for or collect any information regarding the writer, and the writer did not provide any identification, I am going to provide the information on this blog hoping that the person who wrote to me is a reader.

After the holidays, I wrote to the Department of Transportation to FOIL any information they might have in their files. In return, I received the attached documents (33 pages).

Byrne Dairy Documents

Hopefully, these documents will answer your questions; however, if you are in need of further information, please write again and give me specifics as to what you are looking for so I can prepare another FOIL request to the appropriate agency.

Update: To the person who sent further information today (Jan. 30), you might be correct as to what might be happening behind the scenes; I can say that I have received indications that your assumptions are correct when I ask around town.

However, I am rather stymied because the property is still listed for sale on the Cushman Wakefield website: see 35 Campion Road.

Could be that the sale just hasn't been finalized yet or Cushman Wakefield just hasn't updated their website, I just don't know. One thing I do know is that if no one questions the village board, they will more than likely do whatever they can get away with; they want to get someone on that property to get increased property tax income.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

So who owns the land where New Hartford Plans to build their new town hall?

According to the January 18th Observer Dispatch article it would be located:

"...partially on town-owned land behind the New Hartford Public Library on Oxford Road".

Really? As far as I am aware, the town merely owns an approximately 60 ft x 170 ft swath of land in the vicinity of the library.

Tax map number 339.007-6-71.1, the property in question (44.16 acres) is currently owned by CRM Rental Management, Inc., 117 W Liberty St. Rome NY 13440. Name sound familiar?

CRM Rental is the same corporation that was being represented by Attorney Mark Levitt in 2012. At that time, the property belonged to Hogeboom & Canfield and CRM Rental was mentioned as the developer.

A Public Hearing was held to get input from the residents because the owners (Hogeboom & Canfield) were asking the town to rezone the property from low-density to high-density to accommodate senior housing.

You can read about the Public Hearing for the rezoning of the property that was held on June 13, 2012 here!

In the end, the proposal was withdrawn shortly after the public hearing was held; probably because there appeared to be a lack of support on the board to change the zoning.

Notice how Councilman Miscione, the councilman who brought the project to the January 13, 2016 town board meeting, was against the project according to the public meeting minutes of 2012. What happened to change Councilman Miscione's mind? Is he aware of who now owns the property where he proposes to build the new town hall?

At any rate, while everyone has been busy going about their own life instead of attending town board meetings, the town board decided to update the town's Comprehensive Plan. I tried several times to find out where the committee appointed by the board was meeting so that I could let everyone know what changes were being proposed; but no one I asked would tell me. I was sent in "wild goose chases", but I digress.

Before the new zoning could become law, a Public Hearing was held in June 2014. At that hearing, someone asked for a list of zoning changes, but they were told that there were just too many to list.

Guess what? One of the changes to the Town of New Hartford zoning was for the property behind the library; the property that CRM Rental was desirous of building senior housing on back in 2012...the property that was zoned low density in 2012.

However, as of June 2014, the property behind the library is now medium many of you knew that? I sure didn't hear anyone speak up at the Public Meeting held in June 2014!

Guess CRM Rental Management, Inc. must have gotten the zoning change they wanted so that their project could proceed because they are now the owners and I would assume, also the developers.  On August 20, 2015, a deed was recorded for the property listing CRM Rental Management, Inc. as the owner.

What does all this mean? According to Town of New Hartford codes:

What the area was zoned prior to June 2014:

Low-Density Residential District (LDR). Low-Density Residential Districts in New Hartford are purely single-family neighborhoods, located at the edge of the Village of New Hartford and intensively developed areas of Town.
What the area is now zoned:

Medium-Density Residential District (MDR). Medium-Density Residential Districts are located adjacent to and farther from the Town center than LDR Districts and are developed at higher densities than LDR Districts and also include two-family residential dwellings and townhouses on zero lot lines.

So basically there is not a damn thing anyone can do about the possibility of some sort of development behind the library because they can build two-family or townhouses in medium density zones!

As far as the new town hall, it does have to go to referendum; it might be mandatory or it might be permissive. If it is permissive, the only way to stop it is to collect signatures much like was done when Earle Reed wanted to bond for over $5 million shortly after he became town supervisor.

How long do you think this has been in the planning stages? Back room deals? Deja vous?

Friday, January 15, 2016

We are the champions - my friends…

According to Supervisor Tyksinski at the town board meeting held Wednesday, January 13, 2016, and I quote:

“We are the top town in Oneida County and we work out of the oldest facilities of any town there is here”.

Yeah, we deserve the BEST, those other towns are nowhere near as wonderful as we are, right Pat?!!! ROTFLMAO!

So, to keep ahead of the Jones other towns, the town board is planning to construct a 25,000 sq. ft. facility right behind the New Hartford Public Library. All town offices, police; assessor; town clerk, etc., will be located there except the highway garage, they will remain on Campion Road. However, the Highway Superintendent will be located in the new offices. The Senior Citizens Center will also be moved to the new location.

That’s the plan that Councilman Paul Miscione presented at the town board meeting on behalf of Supervisor Tyksinski. Though Councilman Reynolds has some reservations, he voted ‘aye’, right along with everyone else on the board, to go out to obtain some preliminary costs to build the new Taj Mahal town offices needed to maintain New Hartford’s self-imposed status as top dog.

One question asked was…what is the housing project that is pictured next to the proposed new town building on the preliminary sketch?

Why, of course, it is the housing that was presented to the town board by Attorney Mark Levitt a couple of years ago. According to Supervisor Tyksinski, everyone knows that project is going to eventually be there. Anyone think there might have been some backroom discussions about this whole scenario?

Some of us old-timers might remember back in 2002 when the town board tried to build a town complex at that site. There were too many problems to overcome so the plan was ditched. Some might also remember the last time that Attorney Mark Levitt presented a plan on behalf of a client to build housing behind the library. He withdrew, but said he would return. Well...wait for it...wait for it!

Without further ado, here is the video portion of the town board discussion:

The video of the entire town board meeting will be available on YouTube later tonight.

Oh, by the way, town board meetings are now once a month at 6:00 p.m. instead of 7:00 p.m. I guess that time better fits the busy schedules of our elected “leaders”. After all, they are the most important people in Oneida County!

Deja vous, anyone?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Zero tax increase...or so the town supervisor says...

The 2016 Town of  New Hartford Supervisor's budget is now available.

If you read this morning's paper, you would realize that the town supervisor has included $150,000 for fees to be assessed for non-resident use of the Sherrillbrook and Chadwicks town parks.

Who made that hasn't come before the town board. Town Board minutes reflect that the town board discussed assessing the non-resident park fees in 2012, but the matter was dropped due to some opposition. Now Tyksinski wants to arbitrarily implement those fees as the budget window is closing. The 2016 town budget is due to be adopted next month.

$150,000 anticipated revenue from a revenue source that has yet to be defined; seems a bit premature since the town board has yet to discuss the possibility of levying those fees nor how much to charge or how the town will regulate and determine who is a town resident. Last I knew taxpayers included people with Sauquoit, Clinton, Frankfort, and Utica addresses so licenses will not differentiate town vs. non-town residents. Perhaps we will need to carry around a copy of our tax bills.

Or will residents need to obtain a permit from the town clerk to use the parks without paying a fee?

Does the collection of cash present a security risk?

Will somebody have to stand out by the road during the winter months to collect from people using the parks for winter activities?

Will we collect money from non-profits who use the park if they are not located in New Hartford?

What if a group of non-residents ride along with a town resident; does everyone in the car get in for free?

So many questions yet to be answered, yet our town supervisor is anticipating collecting $150,000 to offset expenses in the town budget.

Mr. Supervisor, what percentage of the cost to maintain the parks does the $150,000 anticipated non-resident revenue represent? 25% percent...50 percent? Can you justify the charges vs. the costs?

I suggest that the town supervisor read "Recreation and Risk Handbook", a publication of the NY Municipal Insurance Reciprocal. It might shed a light on some of the issues involved with charging non-residents for use of parks.

I won't go into the boring details here, but it's in my "Favorites" for future reference if the need arises. Let's just say, it's not as easy as putting $150,000 of anticipated revenue in your budget in the 11th hour so that you can pound your chest and tell everyone that your version of the budget has a zero tax increase.

Add to these "pie-in-the-sky" non-resident park fees yet to be worked out, the fact that anticipated sales tax revenue for 2016 appears to be overstated. It sure seems like Supervisor Tyksinski has taken a page out of a previous supervisor's play book for overstating revenues that ended up with the town over $2.9 million in the hole.

If I was a betting person, I would bet that the town supervisor expects the town board to add some expenses and take out some revenue thereby necessitating a tax increase along with the possible need for a tax cap override vote.

In recent years, the budget process has become a game. The board changes the tentative (supervisor's) budget, everyone votes "aye" to adopt exceot Tyksinski who votes "no".

I would LMAO if the town board adopts the Supervisor's Budget as is and hangs him out to dry!

The special meeting called by the town supervisor for town board discussion of the 2016 budget will be held on October 19th at 5:30 p.m. in the supervisor's office. The meeting is open to the public; however, the public hearing on the budget will be in November.

In case you have never been in the town supervisor's office, it is on the second floor of Butler Hall and should hold about 3 or 4 members of the public comfortably! giggle...giggle

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Open Meetings Law is a laughing matter in the Town of New Hartford…

Something needed to be discussed behind closed doors at last night’s town board meeting, but just what it was seemed to be elusive according to the back and forth exchange between the supervisor and town clerk.

The town supervisor tried to use “personnel issue”, but that is not a valid reason for calling an executive session. The town clerk tried to get clarification from the supervisor, but Supervisor Tyksinski seemed to think the whole thing was a joke.  He ended the conversation by telling the town clerk to just pick one!

Then Town Attorney Cully appeared to try to cover up the Supervisor’s apparent lack of a “real” reason for an executive session by saying he needed an executive session to discuss the recently received Notice Of Claim.

Unfortunately, the Notice of Claim he was referring to was the same Notice of Claim that had already been discussed in open session. The town attorney stated in open session that a Notice of Claim was received, however, it was untimely filed. The incident in question supposedly occurred in April; there is a 90-day window in which to file a Notice of Claim.

Come on, Attorney Cully, executive sessions are only for litigation strategy. What litigation strategy could have possibly been discussed regarding a Notice of Claim for a yet to be filed lawsuit particularly when you have already disclosed the fact that the Notice of Claim was untimely filed?

What or should I say whom did they want to discuss without the camera rolling? Judging from the laughter that could be heard coming from the meeting room, even though I was standing behind two doors with a hall in between, I would guess they were having a grand time discussing a personnel matter and litigation strategy!

Here’s the supervisor and town attorney in action…watch all the bobble heads agree to a closed door meeting that quite apparently should have never taken place.

This is almost as bad as a town councilman’s attempt to purchase for a mere $50 a piece of town property that was donated to the town in 2008 to alleviate stormwater problems.

Guess they don’t take stormwater control or donations very seriously either! Oops…I haven’t told you about that yet…stay tuned!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

New Hartford School Board...

As promised, copies of the Amendment to contract for Allen Hyde, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and the new contract for Mary Mandel, Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs are now available as pdfs:

Allen Hyde:

His contract was originally covering the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017; it has now been amended to include a base salary increase for the 2015-16 school year to $141,969.

In addition to other benefits already in the previous contract, Mr. Hyde will be receiving a non-elective employer contribution to a tax-sheltered annuity (403 (b) plan) selected by the Assistant Superintendent in an amount equal to 4% of his base salary earned each year. The contribution will begin at age 48 or after ten (10) consecutive years of service, whichever comes first.  Mr. Hyde hasn't been employed by the district for 10 years...should we all try to guess how old Mr. Hyde is?

Amendment to Contract for Allen Hyde

Mary Mandel:

Her new agreement apparently replaces her old agreement because “the parties desire to more fully set forth the terms and conditions of continuing employment” for Ms. Mandel.

Ms. Mandel’s bases salary will be $158,637 for the 2015-2016 school year; thereafter the salary will be set by the Board of Education in conjunction with the Superintendent of Schools.

Ms. Mandel will also receive the same benefit of a 403 (b) plan paid by the district just like Mr. Hyde is getting, as well as several other benefits that you can read in her "new" contract.

Contract for Mary Mandel

Job description for Mary Mandel

Remember, “It’s for the children…”

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Hartford Central School Board says, "Dig Deeper..."

I’ll just cut to the chase.…at the August 17, 2015 school board meeting, two (2) Amendment to Agreements were adopted with a vote of five (5) "aye" and one (1) "nay".

The two (2) New Hartford Central School administrators who will be enjoying this additional perk are; Alan Hyde who is Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction; and Mary Mandel who is Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs.

The adopted amendments mean that each will be getting contributions to a 403b account paid by the school district taxpayers on top of all their current benefits. You can probably figure our that these two are just the beginning...Mr. Nole is next on the list.

On the videotape below is the only public questions asked by the only board member to vote “nay”, Mr. Flemma:

I will be posting copies of the Amendments to the contracts and further comments this weekend when I post the entire video of the August 17, 2015 school board meeting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

At 6:30 p.m. just prior to the start of the August 12, 2015 town board meeting, hearings were held in accordance with the newly adopted Unsafe Buildings Law. I wrote about that in an earlier blog.

The properties were identified as 1414 Ney Ave and 44 Beechwood Road.  In the end, both properties, which are located in the Town of New Hartford, were declared unsafe during the hearings and further action is to be taken.

Interestingly enough, the property at 44 Beechwood Road was on the list of properties to be auctioned off by Oneida County on August 6, 2015 (six (6) days before the Unsafe Buildings hearing) along with 3289 Mohawk Street.

You may recall that 3289 Mohawk Street was destroyed by fire a while ago. Since then, the town had the remainder of the building taken down by Blue Line Disaster Solutions for the sum of $10,321 in anticipation of adding the cost of the demolition to the property tax bill.

Many people may not realize that each April, any maintenance or other fees levied on a property by a municipality and left unpaid are reimbursed to the towns and villages by Oneida County. In other words, when a property in New Hartford (or any other municipality for that matter) is left needing attention, the town contacts the county and any costs for work required to be performed, either by the municipality or a contractor hired by the municipality, is placed on the property owner’s tax bill.

However, many times, the property taxes and fees never get paid by the property owner. No worry…in Oneida County, each municipality will get reimbursed for the charges so that everyone in the County ends up paying for the additional property maintenance fees until the owner either pays back taxes to include the additional fees or the property is sold at public auction.

That was then…this is now. It appears that the Town of New Hartford failed to reply to a letter sent out to each municipality by the County asking if there were any special circumstances that needed to be brought to light regarding any of the properties that were to be auctioned off on August 6, 2015.

Problem is, even though Attorney Cully was apparently at the auction, the Town of New Hartford never bothered to answer the County until the day after the auction. Actually this is hard to believe because you can hear Town Attorney Cully on the July 8, 2015 town board meeting video confirming that the County had been notified of the intent of the town to utilize their newly adopted Unsafe Buildings Law.

The county didn't take too kindly to the "oversight" by the town in not replying to the letter that was sent to each municipality. The bids on both properties have now been rejected by the County. You can read the correspondence between the town and county that was included with the packet for the August 12, 2015 Oneida County Legislators meeting here.

At the end of the New Hartford Town Board meeting of August 12, 2015, I asked Supervisor Tyksinski about the possibility that the town might no longer be able to put the maintenance and demolition costs on the property taxes for 44 Beechwood Road and 3289 Mohawk Street, or any other houses slated to be demolished. I was curious as to who would pay…his reply “Somebody will have to pay”.

So to all the “somebodies” in the Town of New Hartford, guess one way or another you will pay…it’s just a question of whether or not the town will be able to place those costs on the property tax bills so that the rest of the county taxpayers will help you pay the mowing and demolition costs for abandoned properties in the Town of New Hartford; or whether your next property tax bill will reflect the total cost of mowing and demolition for any building not in code.

Here is the video of the hearings for 1414 Ney Ave and 44 Beechwood Road held at 6:30 p.m. on August 12, 2015:

Could you please speak up!

Several times the New Hartford Central School board has been advised that hearing the school board discussions on the videos is often impossible; particularly when Superintendent Nole speaks.

At the November 14, 2014 school board meeting, Board Member Flemma suggested that perhaps the district look into purchasing microphones. However, the rest of the board thought maybe changing the meeting room would help since board meetings held in other school buildings with smaller rooms seem to be audible.

However, Superintendent Nole felt that a change of room should be done at the annual reorganizational meeting held in July each year (see board minutes of November 4, 2014). Guess he feels never do today what you can put off for eight (8) months (maybe "that group" might forget about it by then!).

Well, the reorganizational meeting for 2015 took place on July 7, 2015 and not one single word about a change of venue. Basically, it would appear that the school board prefers that you don't hear what they are saying; perhaps because they don't want to embarrass themselves. Have you ever listened to some of their ignorant Mr. Stephens demanding who are "those people"?

Seriously, several times it has been brought to the board's attention, that people ARE watching the videos and ARE unable to hear some of the discussions.

To those that have written to me asking what can be done, I would suggest that you show up at a school board meeting en masse to tell them that you do watch the videos.

Short of that, without an Act of Congress, I would guess that you will only hear parts of every meeting and quite frankly, that's the way the majority of board members and Superintendent Nole like it!

By the way, I have been told that every word at last night's school board meeting needs to be heard loud and clear. I am waiting for a copy of the video so I can post it online. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

We're ALL waving to Mr. Stephens....

Is "the group" ready to view the July 7, 2015 New Hartford Central School Board video? It's now available on my Youtube channel.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Calling ALL New Hartford Central School Board Meeting video peeps....

School Board member Jim Stephens is once again asking that all people who view the school board videos be identified.

At the July 7, 2015 school board meeting, Mr. Stephens responded to Mr. Wiatr by saying:
'I'd like to know who is the public that looks at these tapes. You refused to answer that the last time I asked you."
At this point, I'm are not sure why it even matters, but apparently Mr. Stephens has some reason to find out. If he only knew what I know...ROFLMAO!

Check back...the July 7th school board meeting video will be online by tomorrow.  I will be writing more about that video this weekend.