Local News

Video of April 10, 2019 New Hartford Town Board meeting…

DISCLAIMER: Since there are no electrical outlets in the area where meeting attendees sit; and our camera only has 130 minutes of battery time; our videos may not show the discussions of the last few items on the agenda. Supervisor Miscione has said…

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And so it was…

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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 way…it’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.

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    How do they do it?

    At the present time, the recently sold serial bonds totalling $8,266,929 are not scheduled to be completely paid off until 2042 unless the town receives some kind of windfall between December 2026 and March 1, 2027.Of course, given the total debt for G…

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    Carnac says…."This might be the year?"

    According to the Observer Dispatch, Griffo, Picente blast new state funding mandate: ‘It’s absurd’…guess they are not happy, huh?

    “The shift is an example of additional burdens that keep being put on the counties, state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome said during a news conference Thursday.”

    “It’s shifting the cost to our partner in county government,” he said. “The rationale given for that is that there’s going to be a new internet tax and as a result of that internet tax, the county would be generating some revenue. So we don’t want to let the county keep that money to do the important things they want to do; no, we want the county to take the money and redistribute it. … It’s ridiculous and it’s absurd.”

    Let’s look back at 2011…

    The State of the County Speech
    Oneida County Executive
    Anthony J. Picente Jr.
    March 10, 2011

    “…Here’s the problem. Mandates must be eliminated as a first step to capping property taxes, not as an afterthought. Let’s just take a simple fiscal example. Under the current system, my 2012 county budget will be required to add about $2 million to cover annual 3% Medicaid cost increases. A 2% property tax increase raises $1.3 million. If this mandate stays in place, but the state also tells me I can’t raise taxes as much as they raised my mandate, then we will have fiscal chaos.”

    “And let me go another step further. If the tax cap is passed and signed into law I will immediately call for discussion on the sales tax distribution formula for this county. Make no mistake; this county government cannot sustain itself should a cap be enacted without reform. At that time, unless bold steps are taken to fairly disperse revenue for essential services, County government will be reduced to nothing more than the functions of Public Assistance and operating a jail. It’s that simple.”

    Surprise everyone!! The tax cap was made permanent in the 2019-2020 NYS budget!

    Carnac also says…”There is going to be some more ‘absurb’ news in the very near future”?

    Stay tuned…

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    March 20, 2019 Town Board Meeting

    Agenda for March 20, 2019

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    The Parks Commission was created under…

    …Local Law – Chapter 19 section 1 of Town of New Hartford Code and General Municipal Law 243.

    On March 7, 2018 the town board unanimously resolved to create the commission under General Municipal Law 243 which says “If…the governing board of any such county, town or village shall determine that the power to equip, operate and maintain playgrounds and recreation centers shall be exercised by a recreation commission, they may, by resolution, establish in such municipality a recreation commission, which shall possess all the powers and be subject to all the responsibilities of local authorities under this article.”

    In other words, the town board unanimously gave up all their authority regarding Town of New Hartford parks except for the budgetary authority and the choice of who chairs the commission which were excluded under the local law.

    I wrote several blogs regarding this local law and Miscione’s quest to be the Parks Director which is against Town Law yet the board resolution naming him Parks Director remains on the books. Miscione and I have also had several conversations about his role as town supervisor vs. the role of the Parks Commission after it was obvious that neither the town board nor Miscione had any idea of the breadth of the local law that was adopted to create the Commission.

    Miscione has a bad habit of using his elected position to run the town as if he is the only person at the town board table with any authority and/or expertise; unfortunately, (for him) he is merely one of five. He gets his authority the same way the other four councilman get their authority; by action of the majority in the form of an adopted resolution in accordance with any NYS law(s) and local laws that apply.

    On the February 6, 2019 Town Board Agenda under “V. Matters Submitted by Town Supervisor appeared Item B. Discuss proposal from Genesis Group for fireworks at Sherrillbrook Park on July 5th”. Apparently, at some point prior to the meeting, Miscione provided the town board a proposal from Genesis; however, in violation of the Open Meetings Law, no proposal was made available to the public either on the town website or at the February 6, 2019 town board meeting.

    Included with that discussion, Miscione brought up the question of whether or not to allow alcoholic beverages in the park which would have to be done by local law requiring a public hearing giving residents a chance to voice their opinion for or against.

    Councilman Messa was the only one to speak out against the proposal and the discussion ended with no town board resolution being adopted. The subject never appeared on any agenda or in any open discussion after the February 6th meeting. You can view the discussion at the February 6th meeting on my YouTube Channel at about 45 minutes into the meeting.

    I’ve got a few questions for the supervisor…

    • Could I get a copy of the town board resolution with a majority agreeing to give you authority to ignore General Municipal Law and New Hartford Local Law to take charge of a job that clearly falls under the purview of the Parks Commission? Not that a resolution would make it legal, but you at least would have opened it up for discussion at that point and someone would have had the chance to tell you that the local law and General Municipal Law are the controlling laws!
    • Can I get a copy of the proposal put forth by Genesis; the one handed out to the town board prior to the February 6th town board meeting and never approved by the town board to include any updates to that proposal? Also, can I get a copy of any signed agreements delineating who pays what and the agreed upon responsibilities of each ‘partner’ involved in the deal?
    • If there is a signed agreement or contract, when did you plan on getting the approval of the town board to sign it? The authority to sign doesn’t seem to be on the videotape of town board meetings and you don’t have the authority absent a town board resolution.
    • Did anyone on the town board other than yourself or any town employee(s) know the plans for the press conference prior to your public announcement? If so, could you name the specific board members and/or town employees that were involved and the time(s) and date(s) you all met behind closed doors?
    • Can I get the results of the town’s bid request in the Legal Notice dated March 7, 2019 ” for a FIREWORKS DISPLAY DESIGNED exclusively for the Town of New Hartford, New York”?

      Those bids were supposedly going to be opened on March 15th, but surprisingly there was no mention at the March 20th town board meeting. The town board approved going out to bid for the fireworks in January 2019, but the notice didn’t appear in the Observer Dispatch until March 7th…were you even aware that the notice was in the paper on March 7th?

    • Will there be a need to pay for extra police patrols for the festivities or will you only be using the normal police patrols because the cost for any extra special patrols would have to be charged to the Parks budget which is a General Wholetown Fund. Costs regarding any extra patrols cannot legally be charged to the Police budget which is a Part-town Fund.
    • Is there any reason other than the lame excuse you gave to the Observer Dispatch as to why this whole plan wasn’t handled by the Parks Commission and then discussed in open session so the above questions could have been asked prior to you putting your foot in your mouth in an effort to take credit for bringing back fireworks that have been missing for the last ten years or was this a political move by Palmieri that you bought into with no regard for the repercussions?

      By the way, for at least six (6) of those years when there were no July 4th fireworks, you were a town councilman who could have brought it forward during the budget discussions in any given year.

    • Care to tell everyone how much this will cost the town in totality and if there is adequate money in the budget to cover ALL expenses? If not, under NYS Town Law, the first thing to do is to adopt a town board resolution for a budget transfer to cover the costs PRIOR to agreeing to expend the money.

    I think that you owe an apology to the members of the Parks Commission as well as an explanation to town residents and taxpayers as to just what you have apparently single-handedly agreed to do.

    Take a bow, Supervisor!

    Since you apparently acted on your own to strike a deal with the city, village and Genesis, you can take full credit for violating General Municipal Law; Open Meetings Law; Town Law and Town of New Hartford Local Law!

    And you did it with no apparent help from anyone! Whatta guy!

    p.s. Before you worry about skirting the law to be the Parks Director, I think you should try to get a handle on your responsibilities regarding your elected position as Town Supervisor!

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