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.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Town of New Hartford Meetings for August...

August 10, 2015 - Planning Board meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. On the Agenda:
1. Price Chopper Plaza, Commercial Drive, New Hartford. Amendment to Final. Proposed 7,163 sf restaurant and a proposed 7,000 sf retail store.

2. Stewart’s Shop, 4756 Middle Settlement Road, New Hartford. Preliminary Site Plan Review for a convenience store with gas pumps.
August 12, 2015 - Public Hearing re: Unsafe buildings starting at 6:30 p.m.

August 12, 2015 - Town Board Meeting starting at 7:00 p.m. Agenda

August 17, 2015 - Zoning Board of Appeals - starting at 6:00 p.m. Agenda not yet available.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


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

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!