Here are some thoughts from "The Original Gadfly" on what the future should hold for the new majority.
----- By Ray Mooney
An Open Letter to Ms. Matters, Ms. DiMartino and Supervisor Langley
You did not ask, and you may not care, but I do so here goes:
· Don’t gloat over your victory. Be gracious. Work to unite the town – not drive people further apart.
· Do an immediate deep, even forensic audit. You have to know the true state of the town’s finances from the very get go. Check to see if politically connected citizens are even paying their taxes. It is remarkably easy to hide that.
· Invite/request that the OSC come back and dig into specific areas of concern from the last audit. Report openly and to the public on any concerns and corrective actions required.
· Purchase an up to date version of today’s best accounting software. Recognize that, for the moment, it will be “garbage in; garbage out” but you have to start somewhere to improve the town’s accounting practices and systems.
· Open up town board meetings, be more transparent. Share information without the need for FOILs. When in doubt share – don’t hide. If a town board agenda does not provide time for full public participation schedule a second, separate meeting for just public comment.
· Negotiate collective bargaining agreements for the good of the town’s taxpayers not to curry favor with employees and their unions. Look to the long term. How will we afford health care and staggering pension expenses down the road?
· Bruen is totally and completely out of control. Make an audit a condition in the contract and create a corrective plan. Set standards and hold the Buren leadership accountable. You might even consider putting the contract out to bid. And as OSC recommended, move the fiscal activity into the Town Comptroller's Office.
· Retain Dave Van Wormer as DPW Commissioner. He is the best, by far, of the last three people to hold that position. You will need Dave’s knowledge and support to reduce overtime and eliminate DPW excess positions. Use his expertise. You might want to consider making the Highway Commissioner position elective as the law allows.
· Appoint a real accountant with an advanced understanding of modern accounting practices and up to date accounting software to the Comptroller’s position. If Pete Stenson is that person retain him.
· Eliminate the practice of burning up taxpayer dollars at the end of the year for absolutely nothing in a “use it or lose” way to maintain budgets for things like DPW overtime.
· Resist the urge to appoint your political cronies. Your political hacks will not be one darn bit an improvement over their political hacks. That applies especially to your party chairperson, by the way.
· Install computer monitoring software on all the town’s computers. It is high time to eliminate selling on eBay and surfing the Internet as valid things to do on the taxpayer’s dime while at work.
· Set goals for all the town’s department heads.
Ø For the DPW plan to reduce headcount by 2 to 4 positions by seniority. Set a goal of reducing overtime in the DPW by 10%.
Ø For the PD plan to reduce headcount by 2 positions. Set a goal of reducing overtime in the PD by 15%.
· Eliminate positions:
Ø Deputy PD Chief. This was a purely political appointment to award a party loyalist. Eliminate it.
Ø Automate the collection of taxes. It is soon to be 2014 for goodness sake. In automating the collection of taxes eliminate the two deputy tax collector positions. The law allows for the tax collector position to be appointed and not elected.
Ø Eliminate the town attorney position. Almost all serious legal work is farmed out to legal specialists so the position, a political appointment anyway, can easily be eliminated.
Ø Eliminate one or both deputy building inspector positions. Might be a good place to begin a work-load analysis.
Ø Eliminate the town attorney secretary position.
Ø Eliminate the data collector position.
· At the January Town Board meeting pass the original, unrevised Code of Ethics.
· Re-appoint Jack Conway to the Ethics Board.
· Appoint serious people to the Ethics Board and the Citizens Fiscal Advisory Committee (CFAC)
· Have the CFAC support, monitor and report publicly on the overtime and headcount reduction goals for the DPW and the PD.
· Clean up town hall. It looks terrible and gives an equally bad first impression.
· Re-evaluate the $14 million waste treatment plant expansion project. It makes no sense to put so much debt on taxpayers when the county option is so viable, simple and inexpensive.
· Explore every opportunity to consolidate services. Evaluate the dispatcher function as a starting point. It seems like a duplication of expense to have town employees doing what can equally and easily and less expensively be done through the county’s services.
· Ask for assistance and help. Promote volunteerism. There are dozens of people, with all kinds of expertise ready and willing to support positive change in East Greenbush. Access those available resources.
Congratulations on your success. We all look forward to your driving positive change and fulfilling your campaign promises.
The Original Gadfly