THE FOLLOWING LETTER APPEARS IN THIS WEEK'S GAZETTE FROM BRIAN POWERS. THANKS BRIAN.
To the Editor:
As we start 2019, it is time to reflect on a number of things. Some very good, some not so good. Let me start with the good.
First, the Croton community in general and the fire and emergency services in particular recently lost a special person, Richard Nagle. Dick touched many in the different fire departments he was involved in, including being a past Chief of the Croton Fire Department and still serving as a Deputy Chief at the time he passed. Dick was also involved over the years in many theatrical productions and he used those skills both on stage and also as an instructor of various fire courses he taught, both here in Croton and at the state level. You will be missed Chief Nagle.
Next, a special thank you to the Croton Girl Scouts who again before Christmas this year delivered specials baskets to each of the five companies of the Croton Fire Department and individual treats for the volunteers. Thank you Croton Girl Scouts.
Now the not so good.
Our Village officials have floated the idea of moving the Recreation Department down to the Gouveia property. Who seriously thinks this a good, cost-efficient move?
I still remember the specious bill of goods certain Village officials gave us as justification for taking this property and removing it from the tax rolls, including what a great income producer the property would be. That revenue stream, it now turns out, never happened.
And how much will this move cost? What is the cost of making the building usable as a public facility, including making it ADA compliant? Incredibly, a document for the Board’s January 14 work session gave a “budget” of $19,100 for "Items to be done for public use" for this property. Just as the revenue stream was overstated, this amount is clearly understated.
Last but not least, I see that on the November 5 Board of Trustees' agenda was an item to write-off $5,524.93 that was owed to the Village from “Tough Man Enterprises Corp." Other than the Village Treasurer listing this and two smaller amounts as uncollectible, no documentation was provided as to what this debt was for and any justification to support the write off. At the very least, documentation should have set forth what attempts were made to collect this debt from the Tough Man Enterprises, a for profit corporation. That was not done.
Why is this troubling? Because writing off this debt without providing appropriate supporting documentation may be a violation of Article VIII, Section 1 of the New York State Constitution, which prohibits making a gift of public money. On this note, the New York State Comptroller has stated “there is case law indicating that the failure to seek recoupment of monies owed to a municipality may constitute a gift in contravention of article VIII, §1”.
There may be valid and justifiable reasons why the Village can allow this write-off. At a minimum, those reasons should be documented and disclosed. That was not done.
You, our elected officials, are responsible for safeguarding the public fisc. These two latest examples noted above bring into question how well that job is being done.
Why not decide that 2019 is the year that our public officials keep the citizens of Croton fully informed? It may be easier than you think.
TO READ MORE ABOUT THE TOUGH MAN WRITE-OFF, CLICK HERE.
FYI: WE WERE REMINDED OF THE LATE RICHARD NAGLE'S SOMEWHAT PRESCIENT 2014 STATEMENT BEFORE THE WEIGMAN BOARD ABOUT THIS ENTITY; GO TO https://everythingcroton.blogspot.com/2014/09/dick-nagles-92-statement-b4-board-on.html