Leadership change needed
To The Editor:
The taxpayers and voters of Hardenburgh need to be aware of the decisions that our town board have and continue to enact.
Councilperson Doug Odell leads our board. In August of 2011 Doug persuaded the board to require the supervisor to co-pay 25 percent of his health insurance. This came while I was completing my 14th year of service. This slap in the face caused me to forego reelection. Within a few months after the election the town board voted to reinstate full health benefits for the new supervisor.
The reader needs to know that at that time Doug was not even legally allowed to vote in our township as he didn’t live here, nor did he own any property here. Certainly he couldn’t hold office here. When I challenged his right to vote in our township the election board sent the sheriff to investigate the complaint. Doug has only recently purchased a small parcel of property with a cottage on it. At least now he can legally hold office. This caused Doug to harbor a personal vendetta against me.
Along came Hurricane Irene. The town needed a temporary FEMA bookkeeper to compile the necessary documentation for FEMA repayment. I had done the paperwork for five previous FEMA disasters. I offered to undertake this responsibility with payment for services to be paid after I left office. Doug, still in charge, nixed this initiative. So, for October, November and December of 2011 we had no FEMA bookkeeper to compile necessary documentation. As a result, the town lost more than $70,000 in FEMA money due to its lack of ability to track materials used by various contracting crews.
In 2012 I accepted the job of highway bookkeeper and began the task of compiling FEMA paperwork for Irene. During the year the paperwork for all of the Irene “small projects” was submitted, accepted and we were paid in full for those that were completed. All but one was completed.
About all we get from our property taxes in Hardenburgh are a safely maintained town highway system. Throughout the year 2012, Doug has “bad mouthed” and made a concerted effort to impede the highway department in its effort to serve the community. Having worked tirelessly to repair the damage from Irene, our highway superintendent became collateral damage of Doug and the board’s vendetta against me.
During the 2012 budget process, Doug led the board to enact a 19 percent pay cut mid-term for our superintendent. Doug and the board also removed the superintendent’s bookkeeper line item and away went the machinery line item to purchase new equipment. It was moved to the general fund. The pay cut was illegal and moving of the machinery fund was contrary to NYS accounting procedures. Even with this knowledge, councilpersons Odell and Hillriegel voted to cut the superintendent’s salary.
The town board has also cut the salaries of our auxiliary highway employees that undertake various phases of FEMA work. They feel that this work should be contracted out. Outside contractors have to pay prevailing wages to their operators. This outside contracting will cost the town hundreds of thousands of extra dollars.
The voters need to make a change in leadership of our town board this coming November.
Jerry A. Fairbairn,