Published On: Tue, Apr 9th, 2019

Momma Mia!!!

Here THEY go again!

I FOILed all the amortization schedules for the $8,266,929 bond issue and to my wonder and surprise (not really), I find out that the town plans to use the Sewer District to pay 5% of the $1,094,528 Highway Equipment bond. Of course, there was no mention of that at the table in the town board meeting or the resolution that was unanimously adopted on February 15, 2018.

This town board and the previous town boards have habitually used Sewer District funds to close budget gaps and make purchases behind closed doors. Selling sewer trucks; buying sewer trucks; and using the sewer district to fund highway equipment, is there no shame for our elected "leaders" who continually "skirt the law"?

Town Law 202-b Expense of Maintenance (of a special district):

“the town board may, after a public hearing held upon due notice, replace obsolete, inadequate, damaged, destroyed or worn-out apparatus and equipment or acquire additional apparatus and equipment.  Any cost or expense incurred pursuant to the authority granted by this section shall be a charge against the district and assessed, levied and collected in the same manner as other charges against the particular district.  Nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent the financing of such cost or expense pursuant to the provisions of the local finance law.”
This is the same law that requires a public hearing prior to replacing the lighting in the lighting districts which Miscione has declared he is ready to do in August. Hope he brushes up on the law before proceeding!

Town Law is very specific...the town board cannot buy a piece of equipment using sewer district money without first holding a duly noticed public hearing. There was no public hearing to purchase any highway equipment with this bond, just like there was no public hearing to sell and purchase a new sewer truck in 2018.

If you have been following this blog, you might come to the conclusion that they tend to use special districts to cover budget overruns; and you would be correct.  Special districts should be audited as a component of the town, they are not a department of the town!  Currently, they are not being audited which is a shame because it allows the town to misuse monies and fail to list the assets of the districts which are now apparently being listed as town assets.

For a few years, they "borrowed" from the Willowvale Fire Protection District"; they paid some of it back using what I was told was 'phantom" money; in other words, the supervisor doesn't know where they got the money. Could it have been from money in the sewer district?

The bottom line is that "borrowing" from the special districts is done for the town's bottom line; i.e., they can't afford themselves any other's either "borrow" from other funds paid by a few taxpayers or a tax increase for everyone!

Let's add to this conversation their penchant for illegally using lease purchase agreements to buy town vehicles. According to a booklet written by Douglas E. Goodfriend and Thomas E. Myers (the town's bond counsel):
Quote..."An “installment purchase contract” means any lease purchase agreement, installment sales agreement or other similar agreement providing for periodic payments between a corporation, person or other entity and a political subdivision which has as its purpose the financing of equipment, machinery or apparatus under General Municipal Law Section 109-b, which governs town, village or city participation in such instruments.

A political subdivision may enter into an installment purchase contract subject to the following restrictions:
  • The governing board of a political subdivision must adopt a resolution authorizing the installment purchase contract, much like a bond resolution."
  • Hmm...imagine that! So a lease purchase agreement is supposed to be discussed in view of the public;  noticed in the paper after adoption of a bonding resolution with the town board giving the supervisor authorization to sign the agreement and not just behind closed doors with an unauthorized signature indebting the town! Can you imagine that?!!!

    There were no bonding resolutions to use a lease/purchase financing plan for the highway trucks and police cars that have been obtained over the years.

    I have repeatedly sent information to the town supervisor on both the use of special district money and lease purchase agreements. Either, I am not getting through to him...or...he just doesn't care because he is the boss! Either way, taxpayers are the losers!

    For a town like New Hartford that likes to profess their "greatness", we are operating like a mom and pop store. It is not going to change until we change the people in control!

    For anyone interested, here are the amortization schedules I received from FOIL. The first page is a summary of the entire bond with an average $505,000 payment due each year until 2042 with the individual bonding information on the remainder of the pages.