Councilor miscue leads to Snead council discussion

Alan Smith of A and J Steel Products opened the business portion of the Snead Town Council’s Sept. 23 session seeking clarification of how he could resolve a problem when his business encroached on town land. Smith explained that in the process of constructing a retention pond, he had used dirt and land not his.

Council Jack Freeman interjected his responsibility in the action. Freeman detailed the contribution Smith and his company make to the town. He contended the small parcel of land in the town’s industrial park has no real use and that he had “half-way” given Smith permission to use the land and dirt.

Freeman alleged that “nit-pickers” and “rabble-rousers” in the town had exaggerated the significance of the actions. The councilor suggested the accusation which he said had appeared on Facebook came from an unidentified source at the town hall. Freeman spoke for some time defending his and Smith’s roles.

In the process of his defense, Freeman suggested the council accept his proposed solution. Freeman detailed a plan to have the questioned land appraised and offer it for sale to Smith. Should Smith find the appraisal too high, then, by Freeman’s plan, Smith could then hire his own appraiser to see if he or she agreed with the town’s appraiser. Should there be considerable differences between the two, Freeman suggested the matter go to arbitration and that the arbiters include financial and banking personnel.

Smith spoke glowing of Snead as “one of the best-kept secrets” around and of his desire to resolve the problem in whatever way the town leaders wished. He indicated he wanted all (the councilors and he) to pull together. He said he wished to keep the council happy.

After Freeman said he was making a motion of his proposal, councilman Phillip McHan asked the specifics of the motion. Councilor Dale Snead spoke softly of his intention to abstain. Councilman Greg Ogles sought further clarification, questioning if the motion was to have the land appraised. With that confirmation, Ogles, Snead, and the other council members voted to accept the appraisal motion.

Councilors adopted the town’s 2014 budget, after Snead questioned whether or not the body had to approve it at the session. Town clerk Rae Ware explained that since the town no longer has warrants with its former New York lender, the council did not have to adopt at that meeting. She went further, though, to assert that it is recommended the council approve the budget prior to Oct. 1, the beginning date for the fiscal year.

Councilors did then accept unanimously the more than $2 million budget. That figure combines all sources including the town water and sewer departments, general government, police, fire, park and recreational funds, and other lesser accounts.

Mayor Curtis Painter and councilman Charles Sanders joined Freeman, McHan, Snead, and Ogles, along with more than 80 Oneonta High School seniors and around another 20 town employees and other observers. The council holds its regular meetings the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the town community center. Members had held a 6:30 p.m. work session prior to that regular Sept. 23 meeting.