Last week Lloyd Councilman Joe Mazzetti thanked Town Clerk Wendy Rosinski for supplying him with town documents, “because as a councilman I received an email that no information would be provided to me and that I had to FOIL for it.”
The acronym FOIL signifies the Freedom Of Information Law that provides a process to request and receive documents.
Mazzetti was referring to a July 17th email he received from Councilwoman Claire Winslow.
She wrote, “Again as stated in my previous email Fred, Wendy Margaret DO NOT WORK FOR YOU!! Go in and get the Info yourself!! I am not sure who you think you are talking to but there is not one person that will help you if you are preserving [sic] them. Were you raised in a barn. This is not Poughkeepsie and I am pretty sure they have told you the same. So good luck with your demands!!”
In addition, Winslow sent this email to the rest of the Town Board, several town department heads and the Chief of Police.
Mazzetti also acknowledged town attorney Sean Murphy for, “telling our Supervisor [Fred Pizzuto] that he should provide me with the information.” Mazzetti said it was unfortunate that he had to resort to this method in order to receive information that should be supplied to every councilman.
“It was the only way I could obtain it,” he said.
Mazzetti noted that Governor Cuomo has recently predicted a 33 percent decrease in sales tax.
“Our courts are closed because of the pandemic, and as I saw the Supervisor’s report, which is a seven-month report [January-July], we should be at approximately 58 percent of expenditures. You’ve made comments Mr. Supervisor that we’re in the black and that we’re in good shape. The Supervisor’s budget has spent 71 percent of its budget, which should be at 58 percent. You will need an additional $9,500 in personnel services that wasn’t budgeted for, for your confidential secretary.”
Mazzetti pointed out that, “the attorney fees right now is at 74 percent for the moratorium, Buildings and Grounds is at 71 percent of their budget, Safety is at 98 percent, Central Data Processing is at 76 percent of its budget, part-time Police Officers is at 66 percent of their budget; the contingency balance of $96,000 is not enough to cover the fund line items that you’re spending. You are now entering into three contract negotiations [Police, CSEA, Dispatchers] and I don’t know how you are going to pay for this. Are you planning, and you don’t have to answer this now but I would like an answer, to go into the un-expended funds?”
Pizzuto responded, “we don’t know at this time until we get to those numbers.”
Mazzetti questioned some budgetary items that were approved by the Supervisor: a salary increase of $16,400 for moving the Assessor from a part time to a full time position, an addition of $1,100 for an assistant bookkeeper, $50,000 in legal fees for the moratorium and $11,200 for salary increases for two police personnel.
“I will tell you that right now you are at $144,450. You also have buyouts of people that have unused leave time that weren’t taken into account in the budget that was made. So I am cautioning you [to] look very carefully because we don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know what’s going to happen, and you’re numbers are not good, we’re not in the black.”
Pizzuto insisted that fiscally the town is in the black but to date he has not spoken at board meetings about specific figures that would back his claim, leaving the public without clear details on the financial health of the town. Mazzetti pointed out that the expense figures he cited came from the Supervisor’s Report that he received through a FOIL request.
“Then if they’re wrong, then your Supervisors Report is wrong,” Mazzetti told Pizzuto. “I know you don’t like me asking these questions, but it’s nothing personal. I was elected by the people to look out for their best interests. We’re all taxpayers and we all love this town but we need to be fiscally responsible.”
Pizzuto cut off the discussion, saying, “I’m not going to debate it.”
Winslow insists that all board members receive the Supervisor’s monthly reports. She added that if she needs additional information she goes to town hall to ask the individual in a given department and when Mazzetti questions figures at Town Board meetings, “he is jut grandstanding and it’s not OK. If he wants to ask questions about the budget, instead of bashing a Town Supervisor that’s been in the pandemic; do you think you can roll up your sleeves and help out? Joe is a point and direct guy and we don’t work for Joe Mazzetti. I call Fred [Pizzuto] every morning and try and help; that’s what a councilman should do.”
Winslow blames Mazzetti for the way he brings matters to the floor.
“If he wants to dig in early, great, give us some help here,” she said. But she said department heads are “disgusted because we get nothing done.” She expects that the Town Board will start going through the budget line by line starting in September.
Mazzetti also highlighted a previous meeting that board members had with their Land Use Attorney Rob Stout. Mazzetti said at this meeting [on or about June 29] the board was discussing whether to grant a waiver from the moratorium to allow a proposed Assisted Living project to move forward to the Planning Board for site plan review. Mazzetti recalled that at the meeting Winslow said that if the board voted not to allow this project to proceed they would be sued by the developer. She said she does not remember saying that at the meeting, “but if I said it, I said it. I don’t remember if it was the attorney or not; I imagine that they would but I can’t comment on that.”
Mazzetti recalls asking attorney Rob Stout about whether the town has insurance to counter these types of lawsuits. “I have reached out to our insurance company and I am not going to disclose how much we are insured for, but we are in fact insured. So I am curious to know why Mr. Stout is saying we’re not.”
Mazzetti said he is concerned about the precedent the board has set for the future; developers only have to threaten to sue and the town will cave to their demands.
“That’s not a good way of doing business,” he said.
Pizzuto said the entire matter will be reviewed by town attorney Sean Murphy.