Berne residents deserve to know the truth

To the Editor:

This is an open letter to Berne Supervisor Sean Lyons:

I debated about whether or not to write this, as, quite honestly, the last thing I want to spend my time doing is writing yet another letter about our town government. In the end, though, I decided two things: The residents deserve to know the truth, and I am tired of having our good names and actions performed as town councilmembers dragged through the mud.

In the editor’s notes to a letter printed in last week’s paper by Joel Willsey, you, Mr. Lyons, responded via email to the paper that “the board (Democrats) had one month to review, comment and attend two review meetings to approve changes to the tentative budget and did not ask one question or attend any of the two workshops …”

Let’s tell the truth here, Mr. Lyons.

Yes — you informed us that you scheduled two workshop meetings in October for the purpose of reviewing your 2020 tentative budget. The first meeting on the 16th, contrary to your statement, was indeed attended — by myself, Karen Schimmer, Joel Willsey, and Dennis Palow.

You did not attend because you had a last-minute emergency.

Your tentative budget had inconsistencies, mathematical errors, number-transfer errors, and missing information, such as no itemization of highway revenues. The questions that we had could only be answered by you, our budget officer, since you created the budget, as prescribed by New York State Town Law §106.

It takes a great deal of time to go through a budget to understand changes from the previous year, and this one took a great deal more time because of the errors and omissions — having to figure out why things weren’t adding up, where the number-transfer errors occurred, where lines were consolidated and into what other lines, etc.

Of the six Berne budgets I have been involved with, this was the first that had these sorts of errors, omissions, and consolidations, and I was still working on it when it came time for our meeting. Since you weren’t there, we couldn’t ask you anything, and the questions were far too complicated to ask in an email.

Our second meeting scheduled for Oct. 23 could not take place for lack of a quorum. I was stuck in Albuquerque, New Mexico due to a mechanical failure on the plane I was scheduled to fly back on, Karen was very ill from what she found out later was Lyme disease, and Joel had an elder-care issue that required his attention.

Each one of us had informed you of what was going on, and I assumed you would automatically reschedule the meeting. The next day, I asked you, Mr. Lyons, if I had missed the email with the reschedule date.

You simply replied, “I do not think you missed any emails. Nothing has been rescheduled.”

I replied with a direct request, seconded by both Karen and Joel, to reschedule the meeting. Upon such request, town supervisors are required to schedule a meeting within 10 days by New York State Town Law §62.

You did not respond to our request until Nov. 5, rescheduling the meeting for Nov. 7 — well past both the 10-day limit and the Oct. 30 deadline required in New York State Town Law for the town board to amend and approve a preliminary budget.

Instead of allowing us the opportunity to talk with you at an open meeting about your tentative budget and fix the problems together as a board, you simply amended it yourself — an act that is not allowed within New York State Town Law budgetary procedure.

This “amended tentative budget” — it cannot legally be called a preliminary budget — still contained mathematical and number transfer-errors that had to be tracked down and fixed.

This is the truth, Mr. Lyons. I have supplied the Enterprise editor with copies of the budgets, documents, and emails should anyone wish to see the facts for themselves (scroll down).

Dawn G. Jordan


Editor’s note: Dawn G. Jordan, a Democrat, did not seek re-election to the Berne town board last November.

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