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Deputy Town of Alma Supervisor issues public statement

To the Taxpayers of Alma,

I find it necessary to inform the good people of the Town of Alma of a current situation that has inflicted our town. Serious ramifications lay ahead if not addressed. As you may or may not be aware, the Town of Alma has been involved in litigation both with its former highway superintendent and a former employee who was terminated for just cause under the collective bargaining agreement. As to the first case, the former highway superintendent was keeping proceeds from scrap that had been generated from town vehicles thru maintenance and scrap that has been picked up alongside of the town’s roadways while on town time. These monies are required to be returned to the town as per New York State Comptrollers directive. They can then be distributed as the town sees fit. His refusal to do so resulted in the town putting in a claim with the town’s insurance company (NYMIR) for the lost revenue. Under NYMIR’s policy, they investigated the claim and paid the town. Keep in mind, insurance companies do not pay out claims if they can avoid it. However, in doing so NYMIR concluded that the former highway superintendent committed a dishonest act; and for that, he had lost his bond under the policy. The bond is required under NYS town Law 25.

Therefore, the town required that the former superintendent of highways obtain a new bond which would be acceptable to the town, which he was unable to do. That issue brings us to the current litigation, which was INTITATED by the former highway superintendent. He requested that the court decide if, in fact, he is the highway superintendent or if the position had been vacated by operation of law.

Secondly, the town terminated a probationary employee over a year ago under its rights to do so under its collective bargaining agreement with the union. The probationary employee was let go and was instructed not to return to the work facility any longer. The former highway superintendent was also given a copy of the letter instructing him to see that it be carried out. The terminated employee refused to comply with that request. The former highway superintendent also decided not carry out the directive. For over one year that former employee continued to come to work. How is that possible? How many of us would be so Bolden to do that to an employer? Has it become an entitlement to have a position with the highway department? Not only that, why would the former highway superintendent continue to allow him to come to work and put the town’s liability on the line ahead of the taxpayers’ interest? Of course, the town had not continued to pay him. The former employee and the unionfiled for arbitration regarding his termination. Not only did they lose that arbitration on the town’s right to terminate the employee but also lost a prior issue wanting an interim settlement. These are legally binding decisions. However, the former highway superintendent continues to allow him come to work. Far too long the Town of Alma has been taken advantage of in the past. The good, hard-working tax payers have been on the hook for the resulting costs. They have been kept in the dark as to the doings that went unnoticed and unchallenged for years. Whether it’s been scrap funds kept and used for personal use, unchecked time and attendance of vacation days, sick days used well above the allotted amounts allocated to them, no-show work days that were paid, and no clocking in or out. This has cost the taxpayer 44,000 dollars lost exposure. How many of you can have this wild ride with your employer and have no ramifications? Many of you have also been aware of a campaign against the town officials on social media by a small group of supporters of the former highway superintendent and the former probationary employee. Social media posting by this group goes unchallenged. Its primary purpose is to sow discord and misinformation. I am presenting you with the FACTS. Some members of this board have nothing to gain in this fight. We are just doing what any reasonable person with fiduciary responsibilities would accept from their representatives in such circumstances. But it only gets worse. Newly-elected members of the board have deemed that the unchecked ways of the past must continue. They have tried to enact illegal resolutions and are conducting back-door negotiations with highway personnel. They are working with the union that represents the highway workers, as well as with the union’s counsel. And yet, they claim to be representing YOU! That only empowers the bad actors. There is no regard for the consequences of their incompetent ways. Here is the current list of resolutions that they want to enact on your behalf as taxpayer:

1. Create a third position on the highway department. (The current budget does not allow for this position due to cuts at the state level and no revenue source to support it.)

2. Immediately reinstate the former terminated employee. (The arbitrations that were won by the town are legally standing and cannot be erased.)

3. Move money already allocated in the 2020 budget to support the third position. (The budget is final and there is no revenue stream to support the position.)

4. Hold the town supervisor personally responsible and place fines on him should he not follow thru with the resolution. (The Supervisor is not obligated to follow unlawful resolutions, and must keep the taxpayers’ interests ahead of personal interests.) He cannot be subject to blackmail.

Do any of these resolutions sound like they are in the interest of the entire Town of Alma taxpayers, or are they in the interest of the union and its two union members?

In closing, I’d like to say that the Town of Alma is currently debt free! We are represented by a group of the best lawyers! Currently, the town is represented in litigation by lawyers assigned to us by our insurance company. We are on solid ground with all litigation issues, at no cost to the taxpayers. If we would follow thru on any of these incompetent and unlawful demands by some board members pushing for them, the consequences would result in destructive financial policies to the town.

Such policies would result in you losing the tax rebate that you received for the past 4 years because it would push the Town of Alma over the 2- percent tax cap.

To concede to these demands, we would need to borrow money to create that third position with no revenue to back it. With that, the most consequential would be well over 210,000 dollars that these board members would like taxpayers to incur (the town would need to pay this amount out of pocket). As the result, we would lose all representation from the attorneys assigned us because they want us to put the interest of two individuals and their friends first rather than that of the hard-working taxpayers. Thus, causing the town of Alma to go bankrupt and insolvent. Then who really wins? I will continue to put Alma’s taxpayers FIRST!

Ladies and gentlemen, I will continue to fight for your interests first and will not allow the past practices to be a precursor of the future. This is what push back on YOUR behalf looks like! The next town board meeting is March 3rd. Please show your support for your town and those fighting for you. 
Sincerely,Vincent BockDeputy Town of Alma Supervisor

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