Some of the small cuts that were made are illusory . . . "Cutting" 30K for a Town Comptroller position isn't a real "cut" because the position had not been budgeted for in years. "Cutting" 30K for a Town Attorney's salary only will invite more hourly billing. "Cutting" 64K for "seasonal" employees will likely get parlayed into more overtime for regular employees.
Two UNMENTIONED things stick out in this story.
1) There are no apparent cuts to the New Hartford Police Department (except possibly a police vehicle). This is the case even after it was pointed out to the Town Board that the NHPD has committed the equivalent of 1/2 a man-year of police service to Marquee Cinemas in a purely private deal. On information and belief, there are several other deals out there. If NHPD can provide private security, then the NHPD can take a serious cut . . . and the officers can be released to work for the private security firms that would otherwise likely be taking on this work.
2) Ms. Mowat has never explained the up and down tax increase in New York Mills in an understandable way -- neither at the meeting in NYM, nor in the press. In the October 29th OD re the 1600% increase she said,
"The massive hike would be the result of an apparent accounting error made in 2003, New Hartford Budget Director Heather Mowat said Wednesday."
Today she says of the reduction to a 620% increase,
"The change is due to the fact that the state Comptroller’s Office declined to give an opinion on a possible accounting error by the town, Mowat said."
There is obviously a lot here that is not being explained.
The OD has been made aware of the police contract with Marquee, but not reported on it. How much money has the NHPD taken in on these private security details? Where is the money accounted for in the budget? What is the cost of the promised overtime to the taxpayers?
Ms. Mowat brought up (a) an alleged 2003 accounting error to explain a 1600% tax increase, and (b) the lack of a comptroller opinion to explain the decrease to 620%. Neither (a) nor (b) explain anything. As usual (when New Hartford in involved), the Observer-Dispatch glosses over this with no substantive information. What was the nature of the alleged 2003 accounting error that presumably resulted in a tax reduction in the NYM NH-Town tax rate that justifies reversal now? Why does the state comptroller's refusal to issue an opinion cause the proposed tax increase to drop from 1600% to 620%? Reading between the lines, it sounds like Ms. Mowat was trying to get a state opinion that would support a 1600% tax increase in NYM!
Both the press on occasion and Ms. Mowat have pointed out that the Whitestown Town Tax in NYM is significantly higher than NH . . . seemingly to provoke Whitestown NYM residents to get their NH NYM neighbors to shut up. But there is a story there too that is not being covered. Why is the Whitestown tax rate in NYM so high? Is Whitestown charging NYM residents for Whitestown Police, because that would seem to violate the Town Law . . . or are there other expenses that the public doesn't know about. Contrasting how NYM residents are taxed by New Hartford and by Whitestown should reveal a lot about the two towns. Why is there no reporting on this?