Pictured(L-R): Deputy Supervisor Patricia Graves, Supervisor Shad Alsworth, Town Clerk Danielle Osgood, and board member Jesse Case
Several major decisions and issues are addressed by a board of three
An emergency meeting held in the hanger at the Wellsville Municipal Airport was packed with major decisions by the town board. Already missing one member due to resignation, all votes and discussion were conducted by Supervisor Shad Alsworth, Deputy Supervisor Patricia Graves, and board member Jesse Case. The fourth member of the board, Mike Miller, was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.
Alsworth began the meeting by announcing that Brian Smith, longtime town employee, would become the new Acting-Highway Superintendent, succeeding Dean Arnold who resigned. Alsworth, Smith, and Arnold had a recent meeting to help with a smooth transition. After that meeting, Alsworth made clear that many outstanding issues existed, some creating public safety concerns. As winter approaches several matters of urgency were addressed by the board.
Supervisor Alsworth went on to explain that multiple town highway trucks need immediate repairs, to the tune of at least $20,000. The board agreed to begin the repairs as soon as possible and transfer funds on a, “pay as you go” basis. No motion was needed for this decision and there was consensus amongst the three.
The board was not notified that a full time operator has been on extended sick leave, which Alsworth contends has created a public safety issue. Without that operator, town snow plow operations could be dramatically impacted. In response, the board agreed to hire Eric Wilson as a temporary part-time operator, effective 11/24/21. The board also announced that the town will need to hire a new part-time employee to cover bridge maintenance responsibilities. Newly appointed acting-superintendent Brian Smith was tasked with making formal recommendations for the job.
In matters related to the departure of Dean Arnold from the town, the board discussed a change of his last official day and how that would impact a final paycheck. Arnold was also the Parks Supervisor prior to his resignation as highway boss. According to Alsworth, Arnold did not officially resign from that post and was, “no longer accountable to the town.” Alsworth made a motion to remove Arnold from that position effective immediately and that motion passed unanimously.
Alsworth announced that newly appointed Acting-Highway Superintendent Brian Smith would not be assuming the role of Parks Supervisor. There was no announcement of a new Parks Supervisor but Alsworth noted that he would prefer the position be changed to a “Acting Park Supervisor,” that would be a hands-on position. Before that job can be filled, the board needs more time to explore civil service requirements.
The next topic before the board involved construction on the new town building being constructed by Alfred State College. Project manager Jack Jones, has contacted the board and requested the immediate purchase of specialty trench drains for the floor of the future highway department. Due to limited supply and scheduling of the project, the town is faced with purchasing and installing the drain now or face a major project delay. Deputy Supervisor Graves explained that without immediate purchase and installation, the entire project would be set back until 2022. “The drain must be in the floor before they can poor the concrete floor,” Graves explained before the board approved purchasing the $8,800 drain from a local company.
With the highway department issues resolved, the board turned to addressing ethics. As we have previously reported, the town Ethics Committee has received information and attempted to investigate. Deputy Supervisor Patricia Graves alerted the committee that by law, it lacked a required member; either a board member or town employee. Graves asked the committee not to meet until the required members could be appointed and the committee obliged.
Alsworth, acknowledging that he is very likely a subject of the investigation and repeatedly stated that he would have no involvement. The board explained the dilemma created by the municipal law and acted to fill the vacancy. Alsworth announced that the town would actually be appointing two new Ethics committee members: Board members Patricia Graves and Jesse Case.
This is where it gets confusing and you will need to read this more than once:
Graves, before voting to appoint herself, explained that two additional members would create a board of 7, an odd number needed to avoid tie votes. Alsworth then made the motion to appoint Graves and Case to the Ethics committee, which Graves and Case both voted to appoint themselves. After the motion carried, the board was moved to call Mike Miller to get his approval via speakerphone. Miller questioned if the committee could have seven members and noted his support for the appointments.
After that phone call Alsworth announced that Ron Lanphier would be the Chairman of the newly constituted Ethics committee because, “his name appears first on the list of committee members.” Alsworth then again stated that he was, “stepping away” from any involvement in the committee or investigation.
Despite the legal technicalities and potential complexities created by both the investigations and appointments, town attorney Michael Finn was not present. Finn had no comment on the subject.
Before ending the meeting, Alsworth addressed the recent budget audit of the town by the NYS Comptroller. The audit recommended that the town, “Adopt budgets that more appropriately levy real property taxes for each general and highway fund.”
In response Alsworth announced that in response to the audit, the town will no longer transfer funds between the highway and general fund.
Before adjourning Alsworth asked if the public in attendance had any comment. In response to a lack of comments the Town Supervisor seemed surprised, “Crickets? Really?”