Saturday, August 1, 2015

NOTICE OF UNSAFE PROPERTY PUBLIC HEARINGS...

Legal Notices appearing in today's Observer Dispatch:

Please take note that a Public Hearing will be held for the purpose of considering the findings and recommendations contained in the Code Enforcement Office Report of Violation concerning two (2) properties situated in the Town of New Hartford, NY;

44 Beechwood Road, New Hartford, New York 13413, Tax Map Number 339.001-3-49

1414 Ney Avenue, Utica, New York 13502, New Hartford Tax Map Number 317.012-3-69

Hearings are to be held before the Town Board of the Town of New Hartford, New York on the 12th day of August, 2015, at 6:30 P.M. or as soon thereafter as reached in the regular course of business, in Butler Memorial Hall, 48 Genesee Street, New Hartford, New York.

The Local Law governing these hearings, Local Law #5, was adopted at the June 10,2015 town board meeting amending the Code of the Town of New Hartford Chapter 52 entitled BUILDINGS, UNSAFE.

Monday, July 20, 2015

I received two (2) posts from Empire Center in my Facebook newsfeed today…

First is a link to the Property Tax Calculator, found on seethroughtny.net.

This application will calculate the combined property tax rate and total average property tax bill, including schools and local governments, in every New York locality; you can actually compare taxes of two or more municipalities and school districts by choosing the towns and/or villages plus the school district and entering the assessed value of your home.

This application is somewhat flawed for use other than for comparing total dollars paid in taxes. One must remember that a home assessed for $150,000 in one municipality is not necessarily comparable to a home assessed for $150,000 in another municipality because of the various equalization rates of each municipality.

The second link is regarding the coming year’s property tax cap.

According to the article, Brace yourself for lower tax hikes, written by by E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center:
The starting point for computing next year’s local property tax cap in most of New York State will be less than 1 percent—and so state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is warning local governments “brace for … [lower] growth in property tax revenues.”
However, he warns:
”…that the inflation rate is just a starting point. All it takes to override the tax cap, for any reason, is a vote of a 60 percent supermajority of the entity’s governing board. In towns across the state, a supermajority requires the same three votes as a simple majority. In the vast majority of counties, cities and villages, governing board supermajorities are controlled by members of one political party, who presumably won’t find it too hard to agree to raise taxes higher if there’s a real need.”

“On the school level, the supermajority must come from the voters themselves–which is why school districts have been working harder to sell their proposals to the electorate in the past four years.”

Mr. McMahon shared a portion of a press release issue by Comptroller DiNapoli says in part:
“Municipalities may have to operate differently under these new limits. Even tougher budget choices may be required on staffing levels, delivery of services, fund balance reductions, and deferral of capital and infrastructure projects. And if inflation trends continue, it is possible that some local governments with fiscal years beginning later in 2016, including school districts, could be faced with zero growth in property tax revenue.”
Towns will be starting to get their budgets together sometime in August; a Tentative Budget must be filed in the town clerks office by September 30th. I wonder how many municipalities and schools don’t have a fund balance to tap and will instead be forced to choose to either cut staff and/or services or increase taxes.

How many town and village board members will be willing to vote to override the tax cap? How many taxpayers will be willing to vote "yes" for a school budget that is slated to be over the tax cap?

Definitely some food for thought!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

New Hartford Town Meetings - July 2015

The Town Board will meet tomorrow, July 8th at 7:00 p.m. in Butler Hall. Agenda

The Planning Board will meet on Monday, July 13th at 5:30 p.m. in Butler Hall. Agenda

The Zoning Board of Appeals will meet on Monday, July 20, at 6:00 p.m. in Butler Hall. Agenda not yet available.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The letter...

As you might recall, in an earlier blog I wrote about my letter to New Hartford School Board President John Jadhon.

Apparently, Mr. Jadhon read the blog; because shortly thereafter, I received an email from another board member telling me that Mr. Jadhon didn’t get my email because I was inadvertantly given the wrong email address for Mr. Jadhon; although, it was correctly sent to nhart.org.

So I promptly wrote another email this time using what I was told was the correct email address.

I was approached by Mr. Jadhon at the May Budget Hearing to personally let me know that he didn’t get my first email. In fact, he said that he didn’t get the second email I sent either. Mr. Jadhon insisted that any emails sent to his school email address go directly to his work office.

Do they? I am not naive enough to believe that the school doesn’t route emails sent to nhart.org through the school first, then to the intended recipient.

I questioned Mr. Jadhon..doesn’t the school have a catch-all mailbox just in case someone mistakenly misspells a name when they address an important email to nhart.org?

Both emails were addressed to nhart.org; how could it be that someone at the school didn’t receive it? I know the school uses Gmail for board members email and I know for a fact that Gmail allows you to set up catch-all mailboxes. Why wouldn’t the school district set-up a catch-all mailbox just to capture any emails sent to nhart.org with misspelled names so they are not sent back to the sender as "undeliverable" or lost in space? What if it was critical that the email was received? Incidentally, none of my emails were returned to me as “undeliverable”. Does the school have a catch-all mailbox, after all? Is that what happened to my emails to Mr. Jadhon?

I also questioned Mr. Jadhon as to why the school website does not list the school email address for each board member since the board by-laws state:
S. Complaints

The usual channeling of complaints, especially those involving instruction, discipline or learning materials is from teacher to school building or district administrator, to Superintendent and then to the Board. In those cases where satisfactory adjustment cannot be made according to this procedure, complaints may be submitted to the Board. Citizens concerned over educational matters and issues should contact the Board or Superintendent in advance. When a concern goes to the Board, as a general rule, it should be submitted in advance in writing and signed, specifying the action desired or the remedy sought.
My comments/questions had nothing to do with a teacher or child, it was purely a board matter; policy would lead me to believe my choice was to either contact the board or the superintendent. So I chose to try to contact Board President Jadhon through an email; trouble is, I don't normally correspond with Mr. Jadhon, so I didn't have his email address.

It would have been helpful if the school’s website listed board member school email addresses with a “clickable” link so this whole episode could have been avoided.  Instead, the only contact for school board members on the school website is a contact form where it is mandatory that you give your full name and email address in order to send an email to the board.

But, alas, there is no mention of who will receive your message; perhaps you are supposed to assume that it goes to someone on the board. But who on the board? Is it possible that anything sent using this contact form gets run by School Superintendent Nole first and he then decides who on the board should receive it; or worse yet, sent to the circular file if it should be from someone in “that group”? Who would know the difference? What if the complaint is about Mr. Nole; does he self-monitor if the board should see it?

When I asked Mr. Jadhon about why school board members' school email addresses weren't on the school website, he said he thought they were on the bio page.  Really? I sure don't see them there.

Back to my letter…

My letter to Mr. Jadhon was distributed to the full board in their “Friday packet” for the discussion at the May 18th board meeting.

The discussion indeed took place at the May 18th meeting; however, there was no mention of the discussion regarding my letter in the minutes of the meeting that were presented for approval at the June 2, 2015 board meeting. Mr. Flemma asked that it be included and after some discussion, the board voted to amend the minutes stating the May 18th minutes would be approved at the next meeting on June 16th.

However, the amended minutes which were included with the June 16th board packet said:
“Mr. Jadhon distributed a letter that he received from Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Nole confirmed that the process and procedure that the Board follows to enter into Executive Session is correct.”
Basically, the minutes were now amended to make it appear that the school board has been correct all along; not because the school board was called out by my letter, but because they just were always following the Open Meetings Law! That is not what was said at the May 18th meeting; Mr. Flemma once again objected.

Without going into further detail, the bottom line, the minutes are to be amended once again and voted on at the next school board meeting in July. You can listen to the video to hear that discussion for yourself.

I note that Mr. Jadhon has failed to respond to any of the questions in my email. I checked, Board Policy Section 1000 on Community Relations, more specifically Policy 1401 under Public Relations, that states:
It is imperative that all staff members employed in the District realize the importance of positive public relations. The Public Relations Program should include the following:

E. Maintaining good relations with parents through prompt, thoughtful and considerate answers to all inquiries and complaints.
Shouldn't board policies apply to the Board of Education as well? Granted I don’t currently have any children in school, but I am a concerned taxpayer and I would like to think that everyone who takes the time to write to the school board receives an answer when they ask questions; it’s just the right thing to do.

Mr. Jadhon…as you walked toward the board table at the May 12, 2015 budget hearing that was held shortly after I wrote my last blog about the letter I sent, you looked back at me, smiled and said you wouldn’t mind if I said something nice about you on my blog.

Here’s the deal...just as soon as you answer and acknowledge my emails and my questions posed to you when we spoke on May 12th, I promise to acknowledge you and say how nice it was of you to respond to questions that were asked over a month ago! Deal?

Here’s the June 16, 2015 school board meeting.



Friday, June 19, 2015

Another NHCS school board member heard from…

The New Hartford Central School Board met on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. During the public speaking portion, Mr. Edmund J. Wiatr, Jr. for a second time in a row asked the board to speak up so that their voices could be heard on the videotape of the meeting; a request that has been made several times over the past year.

Each time that request seems to fall on deaf ears. However, this time, Mr. Stephens, a long-time member of the school board, said he wanted to know who these people were that are complaining. Is it a group?

Why would you even insinuate that any person or group of people in New Hartford should have less of a voice to question board actions than others?

Mr. Stephens, you have always been very polite to me; perhaps that’s because you didn’t know who I was or why I was videotaping. I’m that quiet person who sits on the sidelines videotaping meetings so that anyone who is interested can watch and hopefully hear school board meetings at a time that is convenient for them.

To set the record straight, Mr. Stephens, I am one of “those people” who have a difficult time hearing the voices of some board members on the videotape. Frankly, Mr. Stephens, I have a hard time hearing some members even when I am standing in the room a few feet from the board table videotaping. However, Mr. Stephens, I have also received many inquiries as to what can be done so that voices, in particular, Mr. Nole’s voice, is more audible on the tapes.

Mr. Stephens, I’ve had to overlook the fact that you keep calling me Carol even though my name is Cathy!  However, that is what life is about…overlooking things that really don’t matter.  I don't really care if you call me by Carol instead of Cathy...no big deal. However, I do care if you label me as a "complainer" and dismiss my concerns as if I don't matter.

Mr. Stevens, in answer to your rude questions, I'll borrow an all-too-familiar phrase…what difference does it make?

For the record, I don’t require anyone who comments on this blog or writes to me on the New Hartford Tipline to identify themselves; this is a blog for everyone…no exclusions! Quite honestly, sir, I don’t give a damn (There I go, using another familiar phrase!) who writes to me as long as they are civil!

Sir, I would doubt that anyone listening to the videotapes of the New Hartford Central School board are taxpayers from another school district. Lord, I would think that people have better things to do than monitor a school board meeting of another school district!

I would, however, venture to say that some of them are members of your own teaching staff, possibly other board members or members of the PTA, quite possibly they are parents…or maybe all of the above. One thing is for certain…we are ALL stakeholders!

Clearly, the people who take the time to listen to the videotapes of New Hartford School Board meetings care about their school and so they want to know what is being discussed at school board meetings.

You were elected to the board to represent everyone! If you feel compelled to label people who want to know what is being said at school board meetings as “complainers” that need to be singled out by name, perhaps you should think about resigning from the board!

Oh, I almost forgot…have a nice day, Mr. Stephens!

NOTE: I will be posting the June 16, 2015 videotape of the New Hartford Central School Board meeting on YouTube in a day or two…as soon as I finish writing a blog about the rest of the story regarding my letter to Mr. Jadhon.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Video of Special Town Board Meeting and town financials...

Below is a videotape of the Special Meeting held at 5:00 p.m. in the Town Supervisor’s office on May 20, 2015 to discuss a proposed municipal agreement between the City of Utica Police Department and the Town of New Hartford Police Department. Two councilmen, Rich Woodland and Paul Miscione were unable to attend.



Next, the 2014 Town of New Hartford audited Financial Statements and related documents:
2014 Audit Engagement Letter

2014 Audited Financial Statements

2014 SAS114 Letter
Last, but not least, is the 2014 Annual Update Document (AUD) that is required to be filed in the Office of the State Comptroller by May 15th each year:
2014 Annual Financial Report Update Document (AUD)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Special Meeting in the Town of New Hartford...

A Special Meeting of the Town Board will be held on Wednesday evening, May 20, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. in the Supervisor's Office on the 2nd floor of Butler Hall.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss a proposed municipal agreement between the City of Utica Police Department and the Town of New Hartford Police Department.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Two (2) Vying for One (1) School Board Seat in NHCS…

New Hartford Central School held their budget hearing last evening; the attendance was abysmal.

Beth Coombs and Alexis Tangorra, both running to fill the one (1) open board seat, spoke at the end of the budget hearing.

On May 19, 2015, voters will have the opportunity to vote on the 2015-16 school budget; a proposition to purchase five (5) school buses; and one person to represent you on the school board.

I encourage everyone to at least listen to what each candidate has to say; the winner will represent you on the school board for the next five (5) years.

Videos of each are presented in the order that the candidates spoke last night:

Beth Coombs:





Alexis Tangorra:





Here is the entire public hearing discussing changes to the budget for 2015-16:



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Yet another Extended Stay Hotel coming to New Hartford…

The New Hartford Planning Board met last evening, May 11, 2015, in Butler Hall.

The second item on the agenda was Preliminary Site Plan review requested by developer Larry Adler to build a 4-story 85-room extended stay hotel and a restaurant.

If you remember, last September, the Planning Board met for Preliminary Site Plan Review approval for a proposed extended stay hotel on Middlesettlement Road in very close proximity to the New Hartford Business Park. (see Townplace Suites by Marriott coming to New Hartford?)

Last night, Mr. Adler presented his plan to connect a new extended stay hotel to the existing Hampton Inn and Suites, an 87-room hotel built by Mr. Adler that opened in 2012, located in the New Hartford Business Park.

After the presentation, the Planning Board voted to give Preliminary Site Plan approval to Mr. Adler's project.

Next on the agenda, Mr. Adler asked the Planning Board to approve a minor subdivision “for a hotel parcel containing approximately 3.6 acres plus a parcel for a restaurant containing approximately .6 acres. Again approval was given by the New Hartford Planning Board.

Coincidentally, on the Friday, March 15, 2015 Oneida County Industrial Agency’s agenda:
Consider an inducement resolution relating to the New Hartford Homewood, LLC Facility and authorizing a public hearing. The Company is requesting financial assistance in the form of mortgage tax exemption and sales tax exemption.
The same consideration given to the owners of the proposed Marriott on Middlesettlement Road.

I can’t confirm that New Hartford Homewood, LLC is the same entity building the extended stay hotel proposed by Mr. Adler because Larry Adler’s name was the only one on the papers presented at the Planning Board, but…let’s just say that Homewood Suites, which are extended stay hotels, and Hampton Inn & Suites are both Hilton flags.

No official word yet as to whether last year's request for a PILOT for the Marriott Townplace Suites will be granted or whether Mr. Adler will eventually request a PILOT for the proposed extended stay hotel in his business park; but, honestly, two extended stay hotels in New Hartford? One can only imagine that it must be in anticipation of the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of jobs soon to be created at the Marcy Nanocenter!

Here is the video of last night’s Planning Board meeting:



Friday, May 8, 2015

Special Town Board Meeting...

A special meeting of the New Hartford Town Board was held at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2015.

The meeting was called primarily to discuss several certioraris currently being litigated. The certioraris that were slated to be discussed included:
Sangertown
U.P.S.
Talkeetna, LLC
Utica National
Special Metals
Widewaters French Road (Home Depot)
Morris
Sangertown
Burrstone Energy
Yahnundasis
Immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance, the meeting was called to order and a motion was made and seconded to go into Executive Session for the hiring of an attorney.

After the executive session, a motion was made to hire Attorney Daniel G. Vincelette of the Vincelette Law Firm in Albany at a rate of $250 an hour plus incidentals to defend the town in the following certioraris:
U.P.S
Utica National
Widewaters French Road (Home Depot)
Sangertown
A resolution was also adopted regarding a fence on the Rayhill Trail extension and Supervisor Tyksinski brought the board up-to-date regarding the FEMA applications received by several residents who are desirous of having FEMA purchase their property.

Here is the video of that very short meeting: