McDonald acts as the political conscience of our town

To the Editor:
Be proactive! Vote for Kevin McDonald for Guilderland Town Board.

Time for changes in town politics? The town supervisor is running unopposed; however, there are two town board positions that are being contested in November.

As a registered Republican, I would have been tempted to recommend a Republican candidate. However the Guilderland Republican board candidates seem to be running only for résumé-building purposes and don’t seem to be running very vocal or enthusiastic campaigns.

Kevin McDonald is one board candidate that, as a private citizen, has already graciously reached out to expose current inconsistent behaviors exhibited by some of our elected and appointed officials. While clearly possessing Democratic values, Kevin has not been afraid to act as the political conscience of our town and is willing to listen to both sides of the arguments.

If elected, Kevin will not let the controlling businesses in the town, mainly Pyramid and the Chamber of Commerce, manipulate our town into something that the voters do not want. Already, Western Avenue has approximately 41,000 vehicles traveling daily, compared to approximately 30,000 vehicles traveling Wolf Road.

Yet the town’s current “leaders” and those in closely surrounding areas are planning construction of unprecedented large-scale commercial and rental properties. Kevin will be the voice of reason to assure that the town’s motor-vehicle operators won’t be cursing the town’s government leaders long after they have left office and moved to the rural South.

Town appointees and the board are not listening to concerns about traffic, large-scale commercial development, and the surge in high-end rental properties. They have failed to respond effectively to residents’ concerns and routinely fail to consider the needs of the town and its residents, including the need for more parks and affordable housing.

The never-ending terms of ineffective appointees and town board members ultimately leads to decisions leaning in favor of their false deity, the town superintendent — the one who recently spoke in court in favor of Costco and Pyramid.

The ineffective, unneeded Industrial Development Association supports the supervisor’s and the Chamber of Commerce’s self-gratifying agendas. The IDA members, who have perceived conflicting membership with the chamber, ultimately gave $10,000 to the chamber without any documentation to support the chamber’s actual need for money.

In addition, IDA rubber-stamped a “gift” of over $300,000 in tax breaks after the town changed building codes in order to allow a wealthy businessman to construct an overbuilt, over-designed, over-lit, and overly expensive car wash.

Kevin’s voice of reason will help to assure that potentially corruptive practices are reviewed thoroughly before taking funds from the recently reassessed tax base — a hastily devised plan that left residents appealing their reassessments with only a few minutes of allotted time as late as 10:30 at night in a packed room.

This past summer, I have been conducting an arduous task of collecting financial information from the town of Guilderland through the Freedom of Information Law. I have been sharing the concerns I have uncovered with Kevin and with town representatives.

The town board, superintendent, and chief of police have failed to respond in writing to any of the questions I had resulting from documents obtained from my Freedom of Information requests. They failed to support the town’s financial and operating policies. We need Kevin to speak for the need of a responsive town government.

Below, I have included just a few examples of how Kevin can help the town:

— 1. The town failed to respond, in writing, to any of the questions resulting from documents obtained  from my Freedom of Information requests. They failed to support the town’s financial and operating policies. We need Kevin to speak for the need for flexibility and a responsive town government.  Currently, I cannot think of one elected or appointed official who is willing to speak out;

— 2. Contrary to most people’s belief, the financial records of the town are not audited. Rather, the town provides the New York State Comptroller with a compilation of revenue and expenditures in a manner prescribed by the state’s recommended chart of accounts. 

It should be noted that a number of surrounding towns achieve a degree of transparency through use of  annual audited financial statements. I would argue that annual fiscal audits of town records would likely expose the town’s poor record-keeping system. Kevin will fight for the town to outwardly demonstrate fiscal responsibility through the use of annual audits;

— 3. Upon request, I did receive a cash-receipt policy and procedure that was clearly inadequate, at best. It appeared not to be part of a Policy Procedure Manual that should include numbered policy and procedures documents, dates of implementation and revisions. Kevin’s voice will assure that the cash and inherently risky assets will be protected by board-approved and auditor-guided policy and procedure safeguards;

— 4. Contracting procedures varied from agreement to agreement. A lease with the State Police provides them free rent. The lease was not renewed for 13 years. Most egregious was an agreement for town police to provide “security services,” the same document that would have been filed if the police were reporting a crime!

The Office of the State Comptroller requires agreements to be approved by the town board; however, subsequent inquiries resulted in no supporting documentation to indicate any town board approval. Rather, the document appears to have been deep-sixed in the police incident report file without the necessary approval. Proper contracting would be another example where Kevin might actually help to provide clarity from a town that currently shows little transparency; and

— 5. I was shocked to learn that the town has 243 bank accounts. From an internal control perspective, 243 accounts must be difficult to manage on a monthly basis. One account I checked has remained idle for two-and-a-half years with a balance of $4,000.

It was even more startling that the town does not have a current list to centrally identify the total bank accounts that remained open. Perhaps a list with a month-ending balance for board review. A failure to have a complete list of bank accounts would suggest that timely and appropriate reviews, perhaps even a bank reconciliation may not exist.

While I realize town governments can be different, generally with today’s modernized accounting systems, there is less of a need for organizations to maintain a large number of bank accounts. The condition might further demonstrate the use of an antiquated financial system? Again, Kevin McDonald represents the taxpayers and promotes the review of a perceived lack of due diligence from the town leaders.

Readers can email me with concerns, and I will be happy to obtain pertinent documents and share them. My email is

William Toffenetti


Editor’s note: Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber responded that the town complies with all state policies, including cash-receipt policies and filing annual reports with the comptroller’s office. He also noted that the town’s budget has been posted on its website since 2015.

The State Police, Barber said, use the old town hall on Willow Street as a “small substation” without being charged for rent. “They help us out,” he said. Barber also said, “We don’t provide security service to any entity so a contract doesn’t exist.”

Barber said it wouldn’t surprise him that the town has 243 bank accounts, explaining that a large number are sub-accounts. He explained by way of example: If, say, a flower shop had an engineer looking at a stormwater problem, a small escrow account would be set up. “We monitor them on a monthly basis,” said Barber of these many small accounts.

 William Toffenetti, at the request of The Enterprise, shared scores of documents he has received from the town in response to his Freedom of Information Law requests. “Mr. Toffenetti doesn’t seem to have a very good understanding of how government functions,” said Barber, giving an example. “He doesn’t understand the IDA is separate from the town” so requesting IDA documents from the town would be fruitless.

“If he requests bank records for years, that’s thousands and thousands of documents,” said Barber, concluding, “We’ll respond as best we can.”

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