Mayor Sabotages Budget, Plans To Lay Off Employees, Enriches Himself At Public Expense
Since 1954 Monticello has operated under the "Manager form of government", as described in Village Law, Article 15-A. A referendum held in 1954 requires Monticello, under State law, to have a Village Manager at its head. Our present Mayor has bullied two members of the board into paying him a large salary for a job which he has proven himself unqualified to perform. He has violated his oath of office by subverting our form of government for his own financial profit. Now he has appointed his girlfriend to maintain his grip on power.
Beyond this, our so-called Acting Village Manager/Mayor/Budget Officer failed to present a balanced and workable budget to the Board of Trustees. This harms Village of Monticello taxpayers, employees, and retirees. Repeatedly violating his oath of office, the Acting Village Manager/Mayor knowingly and intentionally sabotaged the budget process this year in order enrich himself financially at taxpayer expense. Never in the history of Monticello has a Village Manager presented the Board of Trustees with a more irresponsible budget, or blocked the Board of Trustees from modifying and adopting it, which is the job of the board under Village Law.
The Village Manager under our local laws is also the statutory Budget Officer. This Acting Manager failed to present a finalized version of the budget which members of the Board of Trustees worked (in spite of his obstacles) to amend and balance, preventing the board from meeting to vote before the State's deadline for adoption. As a reward for his misconduct and negligence, he hopes to hang on to the $36,000 annual salary as Acting Manager (which he takes for himself above and beyond his annual stipend of $9,882 as Mayor, plus the annual $6,588 stipend of his domestic partner whom he recently appointed as a Village Trustee) for as long as possible.
If he wishes to dispute the fact that he is abusing his powers as Mayor to subvert our form of government, let him surrender his paycheck as "Acting Village Manager" and dedicate himself to public service, receiving only his stipend as Mayor. Of course, he won't do this. The Mayor and his long-time live-in girlfriend take home a total of $52,470, giving taxpayers nothing but the shaft. With his incompetence and secrecy, he has provided no useful service to the Village of Monticello as Acting Village Manager. He must be removed.
Taxes in the 2013-2014 fiscal year will rise 1%, but this is not good news for the taxpayers.
Mark my words. Next year because of his errors will be a big increase, and in the meantime local municipal services will be decimated. The Acting Manager/Budget Officer/Mayor pushed through the error-filled preliminary draft budget in order to justify laying off vital public employees because he did not set aside enough money to make payroll. He did this not just because of a seeming hatred of the police department in particular, but also of other Village employees who were not appointed by him.
As another example of mismanagement, like other Monticello taxpayers today I received this notice in the mail: Important Information About Your Drinking Water: Tests Showed Coliform Bacteria in the Village of Monticello Water District. Such results are highly unusual, and a significant concern. Why did the Acting Manager not take time to inform the Board of Trustees of this problem at the water department? Was he ignorant it, or was did he forget that the Village Manager is accountable to the Board of Trustees? Either way, while not criminal (like some of his other actions), it is unacceptable performance.
What else can taxpayers expect to see as a result of our Acting Village Manager's negligence, aside from a reduction on the quality of services due to lay-offs required by the Acting Manager's budget?
Sanitation is proposed to rise 12%, subject to a public hearing sometime in August. Water will go up 8.73%, and sewer fees will rise 7.74%.
The former Treasurer made herself unavailable for most of the Board of Trustees' budget work-sessions held this year. At the one session she attended, she informed the board that all the Village's accounts had been drained.
When I spoke with the Mayor on August 2nd about the near bankrupt condition of the Village, and his negligence and misconduct as Mayor, he responded by pointing out with a smile that the only salary earmarked for the Manager this year is $36,000, which he believes holds his position secure since "there's no money to hire a Manager". My response? If we can't transfer money from another budget line, then the Board of Trustees needs to hire a part-time Manager for that salary. Even a part-time professional would be better than the type of mismanagement we have had.
The Mayor/Acting Manager/Budget Officer proposes adopting a local law to allow him to appoint a resident of Monroe, to serve his purposes. This woman is not qualified under the law to hold the position of Treasurer. Because she can not serve as a municipal officer under existing laws, she was hired as a glorified account clerk, in a newly styled position called "Accounts Manager". However, as Accounts Manager she lacks the ability that a qualified Treasurer would have to sign checks, or collect taxes. Unless or until the State of New York certifies the adoption of a local law designed especially to hire her, the powers of this nice lady are limited to bookkeeping, while the Treasurer post sits vacant.
The Mayor's preference for this woman, who has no municipal accounting experience, is suspect. He passed over 40 qualified Sullivan County residents, reaching instead to the far edge of Orange County. Is this hiring a quid-quo-pro pay-back for his controversial trip to China last year? Where is the economic development the Mayor claimed his globe-trotting was supposed to bring Monticello?
Being without lawfully a qualified Treasurer means that the Board of Trustees is unable to transfer funds from one budget line to another, or to issue bonds in order to borrow money when needed. Even if the Mayor's scheme to amend the law to allow his pick from Monroe, which appears to be a pay-back for his trip to China last year, she will not be able to assume the office of Treasurer until the proposed local law (on which a public hearing has not even been scheduled by the Board of Trustees) is approved and filed by the Secretary of State.
The Acting Manager once again violated his oath of office by failing to ensure that health insurance premiums have been paid regularly. As of the beginning of August, the Village was five months behind on premiums to Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, despite the fact that this money was withheld from employees' paychecks for that purpose. In my view, this seems more than unethical! Someone must be held accountable for this misappropriation.
Due to the Mayor's negligence, the position of Treasurer has been vacant since since July 27th. Prior to that, supposedly, the former Treasurer was working one day a week. In actuality, she occupied what amounted to a no-show job. She was appointed to this plum position by the Mayor, earning $30,000 per year for that one day a week (though I could rarely find her at Village Hall even on her supposed workday), with full health insurance. The Mayor's error-filled and inadequate budget will damage municipal services, is intended to harm employees and their families, and financially benefits only himself and his domestic partner.
The former Treasurer made herself unavailable for most of the budget work-sessions held by the Board of Trustees. At the one session she attended, the former Treasurer admitted that all the Village's accounts had been drained. She stated the board should get rid of the Mayor's "special counsel", whose firm's exorbitant fees are in good part responsible for the near bankrupt condition of the Village of Monticello.
Precisely what services has this firm billed the Village for? I would like to see this law firm's billing practices, with respect to Monticello, thoroughly investigated by outside authorities.
The Mayor/Acting Manager/Budget Officer proposes adopting a local law allowing him to appoint a resident of Monroe, to serve his purposes. This woman is not qualified under the law to hold the position of Treasurer. An emigrant from China, a few department heads have complained to me that they cannot communicate with her because she does not speak English. Who better to help the Mayor hide his substantial legal bills?
On December 12, 2012, at 12:12 AM, I posted on this website, Ringing The Alarm Bell On Monticello’s Fiscal Crisis : A State Forensic Audit, And Accountability Must Be Our Priorities. In response to my persistent reports, the NYS Comptroller's Office recently completed a thorough examination of Monticello's books and records, and validated my warnings. Some documents records were found to be missing. Those that auditors were able to examine showed a dismal picture of a Village that has been grossly mismanaged. When that report is released, a clearer picture of the pattern of mismanagement and corruption that has overtaken Monticello will begin to emerge.