B y Derek Liebig
The use of village resources took center stage during Tuesday’s Village Board meeting.
Village trustee Ken Bartholomew took issue with Mayor Peter Telisky’s use of village machinery to assist with sandbaging efforts around The Line Townhouse Apartments on Lower Main Street.
On Monday afternoon, Telisky authorized village employees to use a “Bobcat” bucket loader to load village sand into a piece of equipment that fills sand bags.
The sandbagger was provided by the state and the sandbags were used to help stem the flow of rising water around the privately owned apartment complex.
Village employees were used to operate the equipment and were paid for their time.
Bartholomew contends that the use of the equipment and village employees could be considered a gift to a private citizen and therefore violates the New York State constitution.
“I believe what happened was illegal,” Bartholomew said. “I believe what we need to do is charge him (the landowner) for that.”
Mayor Telisky said he had discussed the decision to use village resources with representatives from Tony Jordan’s office and believes his decision is justified in light of the recent flooding.
Telisky argued that it was in the public’s interest to protect the property and those who lived there.
“I did it in the best interest of the community,” he said. “I would do it for everyone if I could, but I can’t sandbag the entire lake.”
“I believe it was within my boundaries to do,” Telisky said, pointing to the potential harm that could befall residents who lived in the apartment if the flow of water wasn’t slowed.
A list of the resources provided and the cost of that assistance is being kept, although a determination of whether the property owner will be charged for those services has yet to be determined.
Village trustee Walt Sanford advised the board that they should “use some caution with our level of participation,” and said if he was faced with losing his home or re-imbusing the village to protect it, he would gladly pay.
A representative from Tony Jordan’s office said that the flooding represented an unprecdented situation.
“I don’t think anything you’ve done is inappropriate,” she said.
To which Bartholomew replied, “if they (the lawyers) get it in writing, I got faith in them.”
The exchange between Telisky and Bartholomew became heated at times with Bartholomew saying he would personally travel to the New York State Comptrollers office to determine if the actions were legal, going as far as saying he would file a lawsuit if the mayor’s actions were deemed illegal.
Cooler heads eventually prevailed and afterwards Telisky and Bartholomew joked that they will eventually butt heads but knew when to back off and drop an issue until later.
In other news, Mayor Telisky said he had signed documentation at 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon declaring a state of emergency.
The declaration is good for five days and provides local officials extra authority to ensure the safety of local residents and property.
The board also announced that Sean McGuire from the NYS Department of State would host a special public meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 19.
The meeting will provide local residents information regarding the dissolution of government entities.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about dissolution, or anyone who would like to serve on a dissolution study committee is strongly encouraged to attend.
The meeting will be held at the Village Offices.