Deputy mayor takes issue with Forestville mayor

FORESTVILLE – Although residents were noticeably quieter and the board used a microphone to be heard better, complaints were not stemmed and one came from a new source – a village board member.

Deputy Mayor Kevin Johnson took issue with Mayor Linda Aures’ including a note about his signing a petition for her resignation on a memo about her activities as mayor.

He asked why she included that information.

“It said I wasn’t looking out for the good of the village. When I campaigned, I said I would look into all avenues for the village to save money. Just because we come up with a feasibility study … that doesn’t mean the village is going to be dissolved … and all these other rumors that I have heard. I felt for you to sign that based on the fact that you are saying that I’m not doing my job, I found it very offensive,” Aures responded.

Johnson said he feels the rest of the board “votes ‘yes’ on everything,” leaving him the lone “no” on many issues.

“I didn’t sign it because everybody thinks it’s a great idea, I signed it because I have specific reasons,” he said.

He added he did not think the matter should have been mentioned because sharing information with all the board members should only be done in a public setting, which is why he brought up the matter at the meeting.

It was also mentioned that information from executive sessions has been leaked to the public.

Before allowing public comments at the meeting, Aures read a statement with opinions from NYCOM and the Committee on Open Government that the privilege of the floor is not a requirement for an open meeting and the main purpose of a meeting is for the board to conduct business.

She also addressed some rumors, although not all, that have circulated through the village.

She addressed a rumor on bills not paid, saying the clerk pays once an invoice is produced and an error on a utility bill was found to be the company’s fault, not the village board’s.

She explained the reason the clerk’s office is only open one day a week is because she has vowed to run the village more efficiently and being open in the mornings is not convenient to residents working full-time.

She cited Local Law S3-312, which states seats on the board can be kept vacant or people appointed, as justification for not holding a special election after two seats on the board were open.

She also said due to previous clerk Samantha Kozlowski’s vacation schedule and the actions of appointed mayor Beth Bowker, she was left in the dark about a meeting with an insurance representative when she first became mayor.

Resident Gary Balote went before the board once again to present a petition with around 200 signatures to the board asking that all activity involving dissolution of the village cease. He also brought up an OBSERVER poll, where a majority of online voters said they thought Aures should resign.

Many of the public comments at the meeting circulated around Clerk Jim White’s work hours.

Resident Cathy Higgs took issue with a lack of reporting of duties White does during his 40-hour work week. She also questioned how he can work 40 hours per week when the clerk’s office is only open for one day a week.

Former Clerk Marcia Peterson also commented on the topic.

“I saw the letter you sent to John Carpenter … explaining all the things that he should do … delineating every little thing, when he should do it and where … And yet there is not one word describing what (White) is doing, where he is doing it,” she said, pointing out problems with time sheets she acquired through a FOIL request.

When Aures said Peterson’s three-minute comment time was up, she responded, “Hopefully, your time is up soon.”

Balote also weighed in saying he thinks it is “unethical” for the clerk to take village work home and it could be a liability.

Aures closed the meeting by challenging residents to call the state.

“To those who think I should resign, despite my being elected into office with 56 percent of the vote, I not only encourage you but I challenge you to call the governor’s office … I would welcome an audit of our general fund. The audit of our water fund was dismal. Remember, 32 percent of water bills audited were incorrect. In the private sector, the employee responsible would have been dismissed immediately,” she said, referring to Peterson.

The next village board meeting will be held Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. in the village hall.