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Alma resident responds to Deputy Town of Alma Supervisor Public Statement

Note: This opinion piece has been submitted by Paula Clayson. This letter  contained numerous "attachments" which I will not include. This letter was also edited to remove vulgar language. Finally, this site will publish no future letters regarding this ongoing dispute in the town of Alma. Each of the alleged "facts" should be determined in a court of law, not this site.

“Scrap Issue” 
FACT 1:
The Town of Alma supervisor filed a claim for “theft” with New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR) before BCI Investigator Jacob Opala’s investigation was completed. In the police report the town supervisor falsified a statement about seeing the images of two (2) Town of Alma trucks at the scrap yard and the receipts prove that only one (1) truck went to the scrapyard, the other load of scrap was picked up from the Town of Alma Highway Department and a charge of $175 was taken from the total. As the Town of Alma did not and still does not have a policy concerning revenue from scrap material Investigator Opala found nothing criminal about the handling of the scrap funds. He informed the town supervisor of his findings and the case was closed on January 30, 2019. The report then went to the Allegany County District Attorney who accepted Investigator Opala’s findings. 
FACT 2:
NYMIR paid out $2,509.32 for the claim that the town supervisor submitted as theft despite the total from the two (2) receipts being $2,275.24.The Highway Crew not only had receipts for purchases made with money from the scrap but money left over and once NYMIR discovered this, the town supervisor was instructed to repay the claim that had been paid out. 

FACT 3:
At the May 2019 board meeting, the Highway Superintendent and his attorney handed over the receipts and leftover money ($1,815.62 in cash) from scrap to the town clerk and bookkeeper. On June 4, 2109, the town supervisor drew a check (attachment B) from the Town of Alma Highway Fund in the amount of $1,815.62 payable to New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal as repayment for the claim he submitted for “scrap theft”.

FACT 4:
The check that was drawn from the Town of Alma Highway Fund for payment of $1,815.62 to NYMIR was done via Claim #88. This claim number was included in the May 2019 Highway Department Abstract that was created by the town clerk and submitted for filing Claim #88 was actually paid out from the Town of Alma Highway Fund in July 2019 to Blue Cross and Blue Shield

FACT 5:

Money from the sale of scrap material has always been used for necessities such as bottled water and shared services, NOT “personal use”.

“$44,000”

FACT 1:

The prior town board initiated an investigation into payroll and time cards, submitting them and the Highway Department Employee’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to an accounting firm called Stone Bridge Business Partners, a division of EFPR Group CPAs, PLLC, without providing context. This investigation was done at a cost of approximately $2,750. The Highway Superintendent maintains records of the day-to-day operations concerning the Highway Department and those records include days off, vacation days, sick days, personal days, no lunch, accidental missed punch in/punch out, et cetera. In the case of ‘no lunch’, federal labor laws state that if you are on the job site or are in your equipment, which is not considered as a lunch break. Given that information, the Highway Department Employees have worked through their lunches on many more occasions than they were paid for.   

FACT 2:
Stone Bridge/EFPR Group found, based on the information they were provided (with no context) that there was a “potential exposure” of $44574.06.The majority of sick, personal, and vacation days used closely together and as half days, (received cancer treatment in morning and worked the second half of day), were due to two of the Highway Department Employees undergoing treatment for cancer, one of which spent six (6) months in the ICU. Other considerations for their “potential exposure” were from the improper understanding of guaranteed paid days off under the CBA (they get both Good Friday and their Birthday off with pay).
FACT 3:
After the first firm found no criminal activity the prior town board contacted SDC CPA Global Investigation & Forensic Accounting Services on or around January 4, 2019 concerning a loss of $44,574. 06 and submitted a claim to SDC CPAs, LLC Wright Public Entity / New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal for this amount. There has not been evidence made available to the public that this claim was paid to the town for any amount.
“Union”
FACT 1:
The town supervisor altered certified payroll and withheld money for hours worked by Highway Department Employees in 2018 and 2019.
FACT 2:
The deputy supervisor was assigned duties as “Union Liaison” yet has been very vocal about his disdain for the union and the union members. 
FACT 3:
Despite the town supervisor’s claims that they won in arbitration, it came down to a technical issue concerning the timing of when the grievance was filed. 
“Fiduciary Responsibilities”
FACT 1:
The former town board rejected the County Snow and Ice Contract for County Roads, a reduction in over $60,000 to the Highway Department budget.
FACT 2:
Because of the refusal of the County Contract, the Highway Department is driving sixteen (16) miles of County Roads to get to three (3) miles of roads that are on the outer boundaries of the Town of Alma, and sixteen (16) miles back for a total of thirty-two (32) miles round trip at a cost to the taxpayers of Alma to plow those well-traveled roads. This expenditure had been covered by the County through the Snow and Ice Contract.
FACT 3:
In 2018 the town supervisor managed to have six homes removed from the Town of Alma tax roll and we lost that tax revenue. 
FACT 4:
Despite a 31.1% cut to the Highway Department budget, our property taxes have gone up.
FACT 5:
The town supervisor refused to pay vouchers submitted by the Highway Superintendent for materials and services from vendors incurring late fees, penalties, and potential negative impact on the town’s credit rating.
FACT 6:
For two consecutive years, the town supervisor, town clerk, bookkeeper and the town board has received raises.
“Illegal Resolutions”
FACT 1:
At the February 4, 2020, Town of Alma Board Meeting, the town supervisor and the deputy town supervisor walked out of an active meeting where three (3) resolutions were legally passed by the majority vote.
 FACT 2:
The town clerk was in attendance and accepted all three resolutions but as of today’s date, it is not clear if she has filed these resolutions.
FACT 3:
The money that the deputy supervisor claims will be a burden on the taxpayers is money that exists within the Highway Department Accounts but was moved by the town supervisor and the former deputy supervisor without authorization from the Highway Superintendent. The town supervisor willfully admitted this in a speech he gave before walking out of the February 4, 2020 board meeting. When addressing the resolution reinstating a Highway Department employee he said (about the current town board) “They can do what they want, they have to find out how to fund it”, he went on to say “...Our board moved the money to reserve accounts to head this problem right off.” 

FACT 4:
Budgets can be amended and the changes (moving money back to their proper accounts) were filed with the New York State Comptroller.
FACT 5:
The legal problems associated with the Highway Department are due to the decisions made by the current town supervisor and despite what he said in the following text that was sent directly from his phone to all board members on December 28, 2018 (attachment I), there were only two applicants for the vacant HMEO Highway Department position and the only qualified applicant was hired.

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