Town Supervisor Paul Feiner has spent a lot of time this year trying to assure Edgemont residents that despite his prior well-known efforts to undermine Edgemont’s school and fire districts, he’s had a change of heart and now supports all things Edgemont, including, among other things, changes Edgemont wants to see in the proposed comprehensive plan, sidewalks for Edgemont schoolchildren, and an Edgemont-drafted law that would give police the tools they need to close down brothels in Edgemont fronting as massage parlors.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise today when, out of the blue, Mr. Feiner issued an email blast to all Town residents touting the results of a state audit extremely critical of what he said was the “Greenville Fire District” in Edgemont.
Among other things, the audit found that budgets did not included detailed estimates of revenues or fund balance, reserves were not properly established, claims were paid prior to any board review, payment vouchers were not itemized, and there was no independent oversight of bank reconciliations.
In sending out his email blast enclosing a copy of the audit report, Mr. Feiner assured residents that the “Greenville Fire District, which serves the Edgemont community” is “independent of town government.”
But in his haste to quickly publicize and in the process malign Edgemont’s fire district, Mr. Feiner neglected to read the cover page of the state comptroller’s news release stating that the “Greenville Fire District” that was audited is a fire district not in Greenburgh, but in the Town of Greenville, which is located in Greene County, New York. Greene County is in the Catskill region of the state, not too far from Albany.
Mr. Feiner realized his mistake and sent out a new email blast stating, “MISTAKE–WRONG GREENVILLE FIRE DISTRICT.” He also said “sorry.”
Unlike the fire district in upstate New York, the state comptroller’s office last summer did a two-week “risk assessment” — a kind of pre-audit — of Edgemont’s fire district and concluded that a full audit was not warranted.
Jon Faust, a Greenville fire commissioner and school board member, said today that based on the pre-audit from last summer, “The state thinks we are solid.”
Mr. Feiner has waged a multi-year campaign seeking to get residents to support his plan to consolidate the Greenville fire district with fire districts in Hartsdale and Fairview. Edgemont residents objected to Mr. Feiner’s plan on the ground that such consolidation would result in a 24% increase in Edgemont’s fire taxes — but Mr. Feiner insisted on having it studied anyway and even went so far as to seeking state funding by representing, falsely, that consolidation would result in Edgemont’s fire taxes decreasing instead of increasing. The idea was later dropped.
And prior to launching his attack on the Greenville fire district, Mr. Feiner waged a campaign several years ago to try to defeat Edgemont’s school budget. The budget that year was defeated in an initial vote, but the same financial numbers were put forward in a subsequent vote, which saw the budget pass overwhelmingly when a record number of Edgemont voters came to the polls.
More recently, though, Mr. Feiner has adopted a more conciliatory tone toward Edgemont, but based on what he has done in the past, residents are skeptical.
Few expect he will succeed in making the substantive changes Edgemont residents want to the proposed comprehensive plan; few expect new sidewalks will be built in Edgemont anytime soon. And the proposed massage law legislation, which Mr. Feiner says he supports, has been blocked for months by efforts undertaken by the town attorney and town clerk, both of whom report to Mr. Feiner.
Last week, Mr. Feiner rejected an offer by ECC president Bob Bernstein, who drafted the massage legislation, to meet with the town board, explain to them how the law works, why it was drafted the way it was, why it is legal, and why those who says otherwise are mistaken, when Mr. Feiner refused to authorize the release to Mr. Bernstein of information that the town attorney’s office had been providing in writing behind closed doors to the town board and the planning board over the past five months.