Faced with the threat of a legal challenge, the City of Utica Municipal Civil Service Commission reaffirmed the appointment of a once-retired Utica Fire Department assistant chief to his former position.
Assistant Chief George Clark retired in April after more than 30 years with the department but returned at Mayor Robert Palmieri’s request after Palmieri appointed current assistant chief Scott Ingersoll to provisional fire chief to fill that vacancy.
The commission granted the mayor’s request last month and reinstated Clark. That reinstatement, however, was found improper since Ingersoll technically still holds the position of assistant chief, thereby requiring the Civil Service Commission to convert Clark’s reinstatement to a temporary appointment.
Members did so unanimously Wednesday after they were warned of potential legal action by Thomas Carcone, president of the Utica Professional Firefighters union.
Officials in the New Hyde Park Fire District failed to properly authorize and approve nearly all overtime or doubletime hours paid out and did not review or approve 79 percent of timecards totaling more than $170,000 in gross pay, according to an 18-month audit by the state comptroller's office.
The report, released Thursday, states that supervisors also did not document their reasons for adjusting $4,451 worth of payroll hours, and that 91 percent of the overtime or doubletime hours that were paid out but not approved totaled $7,833.
The fire district had a $693,000 budget in 2017 for salaries among its 26 employees, according to audit data. Eight of those employees work at district headquarters on Jericho Turnpike.
“We reviewed seven months of timecards for those eight employees,” auditors wrote in their report. “We found that a direct supervisor did not review or approve 244 [out of 309] of the timecards, totaling $171,092 in gross salary payments.”
The Town of Oneonta approved its 2019 budget in a board meeting Wednesday night.
The council members also established the Oneonta Fire Protection District by unanimous vote. The district will be identical to the prior Town of Oneonta Fire District, which was dissolved on Nov. 2 after a 3-2 vote by its commissioners.
The budget includes a 5.5 percent tax levy to fund the construction of a Department of Public Works highway garage. Town Supervisor Robert Wood once again stated the necessity of the garage and said while this tax levy exceeds the 2 percent tax cap, it will result in an increase of 14 cents per thousand on a home's tax evaluation, or $14 on a $100,000 home.
The budget passed with one dissent from Board Member Patricia Riddell Kent, who said she supports the DPW garage but was hoping the board could “tighten the belt” in other areas to mitigate the tax increase.
Oneonta Daily Star
Can you hear me now?
If you’re in parts of Bethlehem, Cohoes and Colonie – probably not.
Albany County Legislator Joseph O’Brien, a Colonie resident, said he lives about a quarter-mile from a cellphone tower on Old Niskayuna Road, but oftentimes he has no cell service. Other times calls are dropped.
In neighboring Latham, Legislator Paul Burgdorf experiences the same issues.
Remember when the blue screen of death indicated your computer was on the fritz?
“Today there is a new screen of death, and it’s 911 call failure,” Burgdorf said while holding up a screenshot of a cellphone that failed to dial 911. “I will tell you that over the years in my home the cell system has degraded to the point where if you call 911, or your neighbor, there is a 50 percent chance your call will be dropped.”
Fire damaged a string of stores at the corner of Yonkers and Central avenues in Yonkers overnight.
Fire officials say they first got the call just before 11 p.m. on Tuesday. They say it appears the fire started in Smoke City, a cigar and vape store, then spread into the cockloft, the area that's in between the ceiling and attic. Once inside the cockloft, the flames spread to other stores in the one-story building.
Three more stores suffered either fire or smoke damage but crews were able to beat back the flames and prevent the building from burning down.
About 55 firefighters worked the two-alarm fire and they were able to get the blaze under control in just over an hour.
News 12 Westchester