Published On: Wed, Mar 13th, 2019

Fact checking the March 6, 2019 town board meeting…

Fact #1

Supervisor Miscione stated that he saved the town money during the recent serial bond sale.

Actually, what happened is that the town received a better interest rate than was used by bond counsel when compiling the preliminary work for the bonding. More than likely bond counsel initially high-balled the interest rate to reflect the worst case scenario; however, the rate the town received as a result of the public sale is about par with what other municipalities have recently received for similar bonding.

While Bond Anticipation Notes can be obtained from local banks, NYS Local Finance Law requires the town to publicly bid serial bond issues. So, unless Supervisor Miscione is publicly stating that he colluded with the low bidder to get the lowest interest rate which would be in violation of NYS Local Finance Law, it would be more prudent of the Supervisor to either be quiet or merely state that the town received a better than expected interest rate as a result of their public offering.   No chest pounding needed here; it doesn’t equate to Supervisor Miscione saving the any town money.

Fact #2

Supervisor Miscione stated that he saved interest as a result of Adirondack’s agreement to forgo the remaining interest on the note initially procured to pay the cost of the build-out of Gander Mountain for town offices and he plans to use the money to pay debt.

Actually, what Miscione procured from Adirondack Bank was a commercial note. There has been no information available to the public regarding the note; therefore, how much was saved over what was budgeted for 2019 is unclear. Depending on the terms of the borrowing, Miscione saved the note interest that would have been paid if the note went to term. Since the town had previous Bond Anticipation Notes that were due by March 7, 2019; it was prudent to change all borrowings to serial bonds at the same time thus paying the commercial note early. 

That is good; however, the total serial bond principal and interest payments are going to require either an increase in revenue; departmental cost-savings; or another tax increase next year to be able to make the scheduled 2020 payments. Since a fair amount of the 'new' debt is part-town expenses, it  will need to be covered by sales tax revenue; the savings from the bank note will be a drop in the bucket to make up for the loss of available sales tax revenue that would normally be used to reduce general town taxes.

Fact #3

During the public presentation of the board meeting, a member of the Climate Smart Task Force spoke about a letter she received from a town staff member stating that she was no longer a member of the committee. However, she was duly appointed to the committee by action of the town board.

The Climate Smart Task Force was never officially created; there is no local law or adopted board resolution outlining the “goals” or scope of the task force activities. There are only resolutions naming the people who have been appointed; each for a two-year term.

There are two problems with the letter sent to the committee member.

The Climate Smart Task Force committee was created by the town board to (according to Miscione) “help define the objectives of the process to develop the climate action plan (or related plan), to contribute technical expertise to help complete the plan, and to assist with engagement of the public in the creation and implementation of the plan.” Apparently, this is more than an advisory committee, they have been given the ability to act on behalf of town residents regarding the town’s efforts to meet the climate action plan. Therefore, the committee members are Public Officers.

Public Officers come under the NYS Pubic Officers’ Law. Since the Town of New Hartford has not adopted a local law regarding the Climate Task Force Committee or removal of officers, the town has to refer to the rules available under NYS Public Officers Law Section 36 to remove a committee member.

That section of the law allows for a duly appointed public officer to only be removed for “misconduct, maladministratrion, malfeasance or malversation in office” and “upon application to the appellate division of the supreme court held within the judicial department embracing such town…”.

Further “such application shall be made upon notice to such officer of not less than eight days, and a copy of the charges upon which the application will be made must be served with such notice.

In other words, Miscione has overstepped his authority. So instead of having a staff member send a letter to a member to a duly appointed committee member informing them they are no longer a member of a committee and having to listen to Supervisor Miscione give a 'cock and bull' response to a duly appointed committee member during public presentations; it might be wise for the Supervisor to familiarize himself with the Public Officers Law so there won’t be a next time. It might also be a good idea to adopt a local law with specific goals and requirements for members of the committee if it is intended to last longer than the initial two (2) years everyone has been appointed to serve.

Additionally, Miscione should also take note that while he is the town supervisor, he has no more authority than any other town board member. He actually gets his authority as town supervisor to perform such duties such as paying bills and signing contract documents, etc., ONLY AFTER action of the town board; i.e., after the adoption of a board resolution! He is not an island unto himself!

Fact #4

According to Miscione, the purchase of the land next to the new town hall is off the table. Apparently, Larry Adler has taken the property off the market because he has a bank interested in building on the parcel. That’s a good thing!

As I already blogged, a town can only invest in property that is needed for a specific proper town purpose. So instead of town board indebting taxpayers by borrowing money for a future “possible” investment venture that town law doesn't allow, plus giving Adler $150,000 credit for future fees in lieu of mitigation and a donation letter based on a flawed appraisal, Larry Adler (or the bank) can now build the bank, pay the appropriate fees in lieu of mitigation due to the town, and pay the yearly property taxes due to the town, school, and county. Sounds like a win-win for everyone, don’t you think?

Just saying….