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Friday, December 12, 2008

The Money Punt from Insurance to Water

The money was flowing at last night's board meeting with insurance buyouts forgiven and disclosures that more money may be needed AFTER a settlement to finish Water District 14.
First, the Town Board passed a long overdue health insurance policy last night that will stop the Supervisor from making promises with public funds for insurance buyouts to people who are not legally eligible to receive them. It will also establish clearer rules as to who is eligible for health insurance and who is not.

One person who will be forced off the health insurance policy at a savings of more than $5,000 a year, is the Supervisor. He is the only board member, all of whom are part time officials, who is currently on the town policy. How he put himself on the policy in the first place remians unexplained since he appears never to have nbeen eligible. Mr. Evers, however, when confronted with this change, began to insist he was a full time official and by implication, eligible to continue his insurance coverage. Councilman Spain made it clear that such is not the case, pointing out that Evers himself asked for a raise to full time from part time only a few months ago. The board rejected that raise, unanimously, with Evers himself voting against the full time status and pay.

So we will see if the Supervisor takes himself off the policy and whether the town comptroller, having heard the board speak, insures that the directive is carried out with respect to the Supervisor.

During the meeting, the board approved by 4-1 a resolution allowing the Deputy Clerk to keep money she received for an insurance buyout even though she was not eligible. In effect, she was a victim of the Town Supervisor's "promise" to give her the money which was done without town board approval. Another victim of Mr. Evers unlawful and reckless promises was the town comptroller who apparently declined a second check for a buyout after realizing the Supervisor lacked authority to approve the payment. Oddly, victim two is being required to repay the town for the first check Evers improperly authorized.

Let us suggest that the Board made one mistake here and that is to hold taxpayers accountable for the Supervisor's reckless promises with taxpayer funds. It is the Supervisor who should be required to reimburse the town for his reckless promises. Instead, the Town Board is making taxpayers shoulder the cost for about $6,000 for a buyout for an ineligible employee, that the Supervisor unlawfully authorized by dispensing the check. Get it right boys. Don't make us pay for this guys lawlessness.
Still unresolved by last night's meeting is the continued status of Tom Murley on the town health policy at more than $5,000 a year. Anyone who can justify his presence on the policy has yet to come forward and should the Board fail to act to remove him, it is clear the consequences both legally and politically will be costly. Murley was employed by the town for just 5 years and has been receiving health insurance ever since he left back in July 2004. He'll collect for life if the Board fails to act and taxpayers could be stuck with some $20,000 in insurance premiums improperly paid on his behalf if the Board fails to require repayment to town coffers.

Water District Blues

A bombshell was dropped last night that the so called million dollar settlement the board agreed to with the contractor in Water 14 to FINISH the project is apparently not enough! A Special Meeting has been scheduled for next Thursday at 6PM to demand answers from the town employees who have been administering and mismanaging the overspent contract. It was disclosed that about $80,000 may have been "left out" of the settlement which cost the whole town another million dollars for water 14. That million was supposed to finish the job and now we learn, like the original contract itself, that what was agreed to is just not enough.

Water 14 is the gift that keeps giving and taking from the pockets of weary taxpayers. Our sources say an employee of the Building Department wrote a memo to the Board earlier this week that disclosed the bombshell. Remember these are the some of the same folks who were let go, then rehired only to give away the store in Water 14, spending our money improperly without change orders to cover over runs.

When they were let go, Councilman Desso was at Board meetings fighting for the dismissed employees. He ran for office in part because of support for those folks who did such a bang up job with the contract. Now he and running mate Al Spain find themselves a wee bit upset with the job performance of these folks and they want answers. Sounds like they too are now victims of the same incompetence that brought down the last board majority. They, like the last Board, learned their lesson too late.
A final note on the so called "Project Coordinator" required by the State Comptroller in his critical audit of Water 14. The resolution to appoint someone to oversee the now million plus settlement witht he contractor was tabled, in part because the new charges which came to light make it impossible to know where the scope of unfinished work really ends, if ever.
But Mark Evers claimed he got a call from his buddy at Rensselaer County Civil Service who happens to know everything the town does before its done. Evers claims Civil Service says the town can't appoint a Project Coordinator without their approval. Guess what folks, your wrong if you said that and we say if because Evers lies like a rug. But if you did call Evers out of the clear blue sky to help him stop such an appointment, remember that you have no authority over contractual appointments of any town board. If the board chooses to appoint a firm to oversee the work of this or any contract, it does not need Civil Service approval, period. The last thing the town needs is allowing the same folks who approved all the overspending in Water 14 left in charge of this last million and growing dollars needed to complete it under an irresponsible settlement with the politically connected contractor.

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