Citing disrespectful board member, R’ville building inspector resigns

Mark Overbaugh

Enterprise file photo — Marcello Iaia
Mark Overbaugh is sworn in as Rensselaerville code-enforcement officer in 2014. He resigned last week, describing disrespect from the town board.

RENSSELAERVILLE — Mark Overbaugh, who has been the town’s code-enforcement and zoning officer for over 20 years, wrote the town board that he would be resigning as of June 30. He stated in a letter that working with an unnamed town board member had become “extremely stressful” in the past few years.

The board agreed to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss how to replace him and unanimously agreed to advertise for a new code-enforcement officer, and in the meantime to hire Westerlo’s code enforcement officer, Edwin Lawson, to temporarily serve in that role.

Supervisor Steve Pfleging said at Tuesday’s meeting that five people have already contacted the town about the post. The board hopes to have an advertisement for the job posted for the required amount of time and be able to interview applicants at its workshop meeting on July 10.

Overbaugh had submitted his letter of resignation on June 14, minutes before the town board met, citing incidents of disrespect from the board as one of the reasons for his departure. Pfleging then read the letter out loud.

“ The lack of respect for me and my position is evidenced by the very unprofessional eye-rolling, loud sighs, and murmurings of a certain board member at open board meetings,” he wrote. “Perhaps these behaviors should be reviewed under the code of conduct for public officials.”

After the meeting, Pfleging told The Enterprise that he did not know who Overbaugh was referring to, and declined to comment further. Overbaugh did not return calls for comment before press time.

Overbaugh also wrote that the “stress, harassment, and hostile environment” of his workplace were affecting his health.

Overbaugh’s salary is $14,930, according to the 2018 budget; at Tuesday’s meeting, Pfleging said that $6,220.80 was left of that salary, or $1,244.16 a month. About $3,000 is left in the budget for the position of a planning and zoning board secretary which has not yet been filled. Pfleging, who had served as secretary before being elected supervisor, had said that those funds could be used to fund training for a new building inspector.

Voices in his defense

Jeffry Pine, a town assessor and also the code enforcement officer for the town of New Scotland, spoke out in favor of Overbaugh at the June 14 meeting. He said it would be difficult to replace him, but that he would offer some assistance if needed.

“For a part-time building inspector, you had a really good guy … ,” Pine said. “After 20 years, I think you should do something for him.”

Marie Dermody, a former town supervisor who had unsuccessfully run for town board last fall, told The Enterprise after Tuesday’s meeting that Overbaugh had told her the board member he described as having “eye rolling, loud sighs, and murmurings” at meetings was Margaret Sedlmeir.

“She does the same thing to me,” said Dermody, who has protested against board actions during public-comment periods at the meetings.

“I think it was just personalities,” Pine replied to Dermody.

Dermody said that both past and current board members have had a “vendetta” against Overbaugh since he had an argument with a former councilman, the late Robert Bolte, and has since had his role scrutinized.

“I was very disappointed, discouraged,” said Sedlmeir on Wednesday responding through The Enterprise to Dermody’s comments. She said that the allegations that she acted in such a way as described in Overbaugh’s letter are “certainly, certainly not true.”

Sedlmeir said she last had a direct conversation with Overbaugh two years ago to discuss demolishing dilapidated barns over the course of several monthly meetings, ending with Overbaugh’s agreeing to arrange for the barns’ destruction, though she believes the barns still remain.

Sedlmeir also voted against Overbaugh’s reappointment in January 2017. She declined to comment why.

“There was no disrespect,” said Sedlmeir, who said she is not aware of any conflicts between Overbaugh and any other board members.

In January, Overbaugh had been appointed to a three-month position, with an extension contingent on town board evaluations. For years, he had been appointed to an annual term. After creating a list of objectives for Overbaugh to adhere to a month prior, the board re-appointed him in April.

“We just thought it might be nice to have something in place,” said Sedlmeir, of the list.

In March, Dermody objected to the list of objectives that she said had been illegally created in executive session by the town board, and described the scrutinization of Overbaugh as a “witch hunt.”

Overbaugh was not at the June 14 meeting to report to the board on what permits he had issued or what inspections he had completed over the last month; instead, his report was read by Pfleging. Councilwoman Marion Cooke said the permits Overbaugh had reported did not match the town clerk’s report. Town Clerk Victoria Kraker said Overbaugh had informed her of this, and the board tabled his report.

Earlier in the June 14 meeting, a woman told the board that Overbaugh responded to her complaints about a neighbor leaving out tires, but said his actions did little to help the situation.

Weight-limit law passes

After holding a public hearing at 6:45 p.m., before its June 14 meeting, the town board unanimously passed a local law that would allow the town’s highway superintendent to post temporary weight limits for vehicles traveling on town roads.

Vehicles weighing over six tons would be barred from posted town roads based on a schedule determined by Highway Superintendent Randall Bates, which is to be announced on signs in town and in the newspaper. Bates is also authorized to issue permits to exempt vehicles. Fire and ambulance vehicles, as well as public school buses, would be exempt.

Other business:

In addition, the board:

— Heard from Mike Sikule and Misty Shafer on the work the Hilltown Community Resource Center does, and that the center will be hosting a July 15 golf tournament to raise money;

— Appointed Richard Tollner and John Mormile to the recently created Solar Energy/Zoning Committee;

— Revised a previous motion authorizing Bates to spend up to $12,000 on sidewalk repairs in Preston Hollow due to a lack of specifications made in the last motion;

— Discussed assigning a new contracted group to mow town lands next year due to poor performance;

— Reviewed the results of a report from the engineering firm Weston & Sampson on the Lake Myosotis dam, which is suspected of leaking as well as having an outflow pipe clogged; and

— Accepted the resignation of Garrett Platel as deputy water and sewer operator.

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