Village gears up for fight with county
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO The Village of Monticello may be poised to give Sullivan County some trouble regarding the new jail.
Proposed to be sited in the Town of Thompson but close to the village’s border, the jail is expected to utilize sewer and water services from Monticello.
Then again, maybe not.
Thanks to the Legislature’s recent vote to proceed with a solid waste user fee plus the acquisition of the Apollo Plaza without the village’s involvement village officials are threatening to make negotiations difficult.
At Monday’s regular board meeting, Village Manager Ray Nargizian said the waste fee will be a burden on village taxpayers, and the village had sent a letter to the county stating such.
Trustee Scott Schoonmaker believed the county is in essence holding the village hostage.
“Now we’re going to turn back and hold you hostage,” he remarked.
The board agreed unanimously (minus absent member Vic Marinello) to “revisit” offering sewer and water services to the proposed jail and also to explore litigation against the county to recoup around $500,000 the former owners of the Apollo Plaza owed Monticello.
The county just gained title to the former mall and plans to develop it.
“My question is, what’s in it for the village?” Schoonmaker wondered.
Nargizian felt the village might not see “a penny” of that half-million.
“I think we should definitely look into our legal options,” he told the board.
When contacted Wednesday, Legislative Aide Alexis Eggleton said, “The county received the land, not the delinquent taxes, so there is no mechanism for the village to recoup any funding until a sale was completed.
“We had not been made aware of the ‘revisiting’ of the water & sewer,” she continued, “and are currently awaiting the formal communication from the village that stipulates such, and why.”
New attorney gets paid
Despite having served the village as its acting attorney for the past month, Robert Gaiman had yet to be paid, until this past Monday.
And the board vote that finally granted him the pro-rated balance of the position’s $40,000 annual salary came about only after wrangling over the terminology of the resolution.
At issue was the resolution’s intimation that prior Village Attorney Jake Billig resigned on October 13.
“Jacob Billig was terminated by me on October 5,” stated Mayor Gordon Jenkins. “He didn’t resign.”
“That’s what it says in here,” replied Trustee Carmen Rue.
But, said Gaiman, Billig was paid through October 13. (The issue of resignation versus firing remains in dispute, depending on whether one talks to Jenkins or Billig.)
“Billig owes the village money then,” Jenkins remarked.
“Let’s stop fighting about this and move on!” said an angry Schoonmaker. “Let’s go with the 5th!”
In an effort to resolve the debate, Gaiman said trustees could amend the resolution to say Billig ended his tenure on October 5 and Gaiman began serving on October 14.
It was approved unanimously.
Absent and unpaid?
Per a resolution passed earlier in the year, Schoonmaker said Marinello’s absence, for whatever reason, means he won’t be paid for that meeting.
Trustees seemed taken by surprise at Marinello’s absence, and they didn’t specify how much Marinello might be docked.
Rue, however, reiterated her belief that such a law is unconstitutional, echoed by Gaiman and Nargizian, citing state and federal law.
“We say something, and we don’t follow through,” lamented Jenkins, but Rue countered that Marinello may have had an emergency that forced him to miss the meeting.
“So you’re saying I can take a year off and be paid?” Jenkins replied sarcastically.
“It’s happened before,” Rue shot back.