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Questions arise at finance meeting

February 27, 2013
Morning Journal News

WELLSVILLE - A village finance committee meeting to discuss money for repairs to Wellsville's potholed roads grew unexpectedly rancorous Tuesday morning in council chambers. It also provided further clues regarding the forced exit of former village fiscal officer Dale Davis.

Village administrator Thom Edgell said he was expecting an order of cold patch on Monday at a price of $270 for three tons, but added that having access to a roller would be beneficial in ensuring that the repairs last longer.

Edgell also requested the use of a recently passed emergency employee provision to assist his workers. Health issues have sidelined one of the street department's employees for the interim, and with so much work around town coming up, he said a part-time replacement would be needed.

Committee chairwoman Diane Dinch stated that money was very tight presently, making Edgell's request potentially difficult to fulfill.

Village Mayor Susan Haugh, who was clearly ill but attended the meeting, told committee members that she and Edgell have been working very hard trying to bring the village back to a state where it's desireable enough to draw people to move there, including good roads.

Dinch replied that she understood what condition the village was in when Haugh was sworn in. "You had a lot of clean-up to do when you first took over," she said. However, she reminded Haugh that the street fund has a balance of only $6,035.

Haugh asserted that the $100,000 from leasing of village land for gas exploration, which council approved for the Capital Improvement Fund in 2012, should be available for such repairs."The taxpayers leased that land," Haugh said. "They should see something out of it."

Committee member Tony Cataldo then recited figures stating that revenues for December, January and February to date have amounted to $338,887. By contrast, expenditures for December alone ran to $206,194.

Haugh then interrupted Cataldo. "Stop right there, please," she said. "What the hell did Dale Davis pay? What was he doing with all that money?"

Cataldo countered that the individual figures for December 2012 added up, and stated January and February expenditures stand at $160,018. In addition, $202,000 was withdrawn to cover checks and overdrafts, he added.

"Because Dale drained that account," Haugh interjected. "I had been told all year long those bills were paid and up to date, all year long."

Cataldo countered that, no matter the cause, it adds up to $568,213 in expenses during the period, with an ending total of -$229,325. "Regardless of what [Dale] spent, how he spent it, it's still bills that need to be paid," he said.

Dinch pointed out that there's no money missing, a charge that Haugh said she never leveled at the committee to begin with. "That's water under the bridge now," Dinch said.

"No, it makes the administration look bad, and I will not take the blame for it," Haugh replied.

Cataldo says that village council "took the appropriate action" regarding Davis and is now looking to move forward and repair the damage with new fiscal officer Cassie Bloor and her newly-chosen assistant, Donna Rudder. Both were in attendance Tuesday morning.

"We need to get caught up here," Cataldo said. Although committee members agree in principle with what Haugh and Edgell were proposing, the money isn't currently available, he added.

In the end, the committee approved asking the full council for $5,000 from the Capital Improvement Fund towards the purchase of a used roller for the street department, allowing Edgell the time to find a unit in good condition at a reasonable price



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