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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Budget Adoption Tonight

There will be a meeting of the town board tonight at 5:30 for the purpose of adopting a budget for 2012. Given the track record established last year when Lou Desso walked into the budget adoption meeting with 30 pages of changes no one on the board knew about including raises for some employees in the Building Department, a "promotion" from a part time to a full time position which cost the town benefits as well, the question is will there be significant changes that have not yet been discussed in public?

There have been a few changes discussed at the last board meeting including the restoration of a part time laborer for town hall projects, but the changes made by Desso last year were made with no forewarning and not even his allies on the board were told in advanced although they voted exactly as Lou wanted them to on the changes. Another change that should be considered is making the Supervisor's secretary full time rather than part time. The change to part time was politically motivated to hurt the Supervisor's effectiveness, but now that the majority is about to take over this office, they will likely see no reason to keep it part time.

In a fit over no Raise

We are told the town clerk is having a fit over the fact that she is not getting a raise this year. No elected officials are slated for raises in the budget. We bet that Lou and Al have been getting an earful in recent days.

Retirement Papers for Al Spain in Troy?

Many of you have asked in emails whether Al Spain has begun to fulfill his pledge to retire from his full time Troy City Hall job so that he does not use the Supervisor's position to boost his pension and be able to devote himself to the town's need's as opposed to Troy's demands on a full time Personnel Director.

The answer is that Spain has not informed the Mayor's office of any plans to retire. Fear not, however, he has plenty of time to keep his word and there is no reason to assume he has any other intention than to retire.

Troy's Mayor elect is know to be a straight shooter and would likely ensure strict enforcement of the city's work rules which would strictly prohibit a city employee from using city time and resources to conduct outside business, such as running a town. He is also looking for ways to streamline Troy's budget and expenses and one way often touted is ending the duplicity of having a Personnel Director and a Civil Service Commission. Look for one or the other to be abolished in the year ahead and Spain's planned retirement would make that decision easier.

Cotrona's new Lap Dog

Lou Cotrona's attack on board critic Karl Yeager last week was a bit over the edge. Some felt a bit personal even though the criticism Yeager offered on Comptroller Tony Germano's proposed salary increase of a few thousand dollars was unwarranted. Unlike some in Town Hall, Tony does not spend his time on endless smoke breaks and puts in many hours more than his part time pay requires.

But Cotrona has been cultivating a new "hit man" of sorts to do his "questions". His new tool lives on Dobert Court and it's not Ernie Kern but rather his neighbor Max. He's been reading Lou's questions and comments to people Lou is trying to corner, like Mark Premo, who some in the political camps view as an adversary after criticizing the taking of Highway Pilot Funds to pay for General Fund expenses.

Max has also got his nerve up a few times at Town Board meetings to take one sentence shots at other adversaries of this deep thinking political camp. Cotrona must not have recovered from his malicious shots at the former Town Comptroller at a Finance Committee meeting in which members of the group erroneously demanded a forensic audit after they used a misinformed report from a Latham accountant critical of an "unauthorized bank account" not realizing that town boards do not authorize bank accounts, rather, they authorize depositories themselves.

Cotrona and Desso seized upon the misinformed report to assassinate the professional character of the former Comptroller, this after Desso leaked the report to the media hours before the meeting to help set up his firing.

So Lou apparently would rather have a new trial balloon to take the heat for any misfires and Max has apparently won the job. Good luck with that Max. We hope you figure out what's going on before the foot Lou puts in your mouth is too painful to remove.

And the Winner is?

We don't know yet if Town Justice Ray Elliott will be moving to Supreme Court in January, but we are confident he's holding on to a lead with absentee ballots being counted this week. If he does win, the Town Board will appoint a replacement who must run in a special election in November. Eyes are on the last appointee who lost the election to Josh Sabo. Stephanie Piel was just elected to the town board to serve a four year term and one scenario has her resigning her new post to take another shot at the judicial post, if it opens up.

Another scenario has attorney Al Kowlakowski on the short list of GOP contenders while still others float the name of Town Attorney Fred Kirwin, who is a Democrat. Time will tell.

If Piel does resign the board seat, we hear our pal Lou Cotrona is salivating to get the appointment to the board seat she would vacate. So too are his opponents who would love a shot at him at the ballot box. But alas it might be too painful and confusing for the majority to appoint him. Two Lous on the board would be too much to handle and instead of just one long winded commentary at board meetings, we'd have to endure two long winded commentaries for Lou II is know to be even more bombastic that his counterpart.

Do All the Towns Get the new Sales Tax money?

That's the question circulating around town boards and Supervisors after Lou Desso claim to have negotiated a change on how the County calculates sales tax distributions to North Greenbush resulting in an election windfall that helped bail out the deficit along with all that Highway PILOT money. The question is whether Rensselaer County is applying the new change to all towns or just as a favor to North Greenbush and Lou Desso who holds a post as a GOP member of the County Legislature.

The law requires that all towns be treated equally in the application of the sales tax formula and yet there have been no reports from neighboring towns without a county legislator serving on a town board, of new sales tax payments because of inclusion of the valuation of PILOT properties into the total assessed valuation numbers used to calculate the revenue towns receive.

According to Desso, the county had not included the value of PILOT properties in its distribution formula and a decision to add this value to North Greenbush's calculations resulted in all this new money sent from the county treasury. The question is are all the towns being recalculated in the same manner? If not, there will be many a town board complaining and potentially taking legal action using that old equal protection clause as a basis for inclusion in the new North Greenbush formula for sales tax distribution.

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