Mayor: ‘Embarrassed’ by council’s decision on sign

GLOVERSVILLE – A dispute over the city ice rink sign is pitting the mayor against some members of the Common Council.

The council voted 4-3 this week against reimbursing Recreation Commission member Matt Sherman for a $135 sign he purchased last year for the Lucius N. Littauer Community Ice Rink.

Since then, Mayor Dayton King has launched a fundraising effort through his Facebook account asking for donations to reimburse Sherman for the sign.

King wrote on his page that he, his wife, Finance Commissioner Bruce Van Genderen and others will donate money to Sherman because they are “embarrassed by the council members’ decision.”

“Matt has not asked for money, but to show our thanks and to show support, we are donating to Matt,” King wrote.

King is advising people in the community who want to help to send Sherman a donation to 537 W. Fulton St. Ext., Gloversville, NY 12078.

“Members of the council scolded Matthew as if he was a child and then voted against reimbursing him,” King wrote on Facebook.

As of Friday, the post on King’s Facebook account had about 150 “likes” and more than 80 comments.

Sherman declined to comment Friday morning on King’s efforts, stating, “I just want to make an ice rink, so I am keeping myself as far back from this as possible.”

“It’s not a matter of whether I am going to do the skating rink next year,” Sherman added. “I am going to make the rink; it is just up in the air where I am going to do it.”

Most of the responses to the mayor’s Facebook post expressed support for Sherman and said they would make a donation.

However, a few of the comments also expressed concern that if he needed the money, he should have received approval for the reimbursement before the purchase.

Some commenters wanted clarification about the details.

In an email to The Leader-Herald, 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth gave a timeline of events that led up to the decision by the four council members to reject Sherman’s request.

Wentworth said in December 2010, Sherman and Jared Hammond of the Young Professionals group started the ice rink with the permission of King because there was no active Recreation Commission at the time.

In the email, Wentworth said in April 2011, Sherman and Hammond were advised by King to submit to the city the December 2010 receipt for the lumber they purchased to set up the rink

When Van Genderen received the bill, the email said, it was more than four months old. Van Genderen stated he did not feel he should reimburse Sherman and Hammond for an old receipt for an expense that wasn’t approved out of Recreation Commission funds without clearing it with the Common Council, the email said.

The email notes this was before the Littauer Foundation gave the city $10,000 for the rink.

In the email, Wentworth said the council also had concerns about the request for reimbursement and asked about the donations solicited and money raised at a fundraiser.

“There was never an answer regarding how they used/spent the funds they raised through donations and the fundraiser, so the council would not approve the reimbursement of the receipt for the lumber,” Wentworth said in the email.

At the February 2012 Common Council meeting, the email said, there was a resolution submitted requesting the council authorize the commissioner of finance to pay invoices from Kingsboro Lumber Co. from the Recreation Fund. The request was to reimburse the Young Professionals $767.19, Wentworth said in the email, and it was noted some of the receipts were from 2010 and had been previously denied by the council.

The resolution was tabled during that meeting by a unanimous vote.

The Recreation Commission was re-established at the Feb. 28, 2012, Common Council meeting, the email noted, and Sherman and Hammond were appointed by the mayor.

The newly formed Recreation Commission met in March 2012, one month after the sign for the rink was ordered.

In the email,?Wentworth said Sherman could have submitted the receipt for reimbursement or informed other commission members of the purchase, but he did not.

At the Recreation Commission meeting in?January, Sherman submitted a receipt for the sign that he ordered on Feb. 16, 2012, from Beebie Printing, the email said.

In the email, Wentworth said this was the first time many of the members heard about the sign. There also were concerns the receipt was 11 months old.

The commission chose not to approve the reimbursement, and instead sent the receipt to the finance commissioner.

In the email, Wentworth said Van Genderen shared the same concerns and sent the Common Council a memo dated Jan. 15 requesting the council make the decision by way of vote whether to reimburse Sherman.

During the Common Council meeting Tuesday, the council discussed the concerns and the process for reimbursement.

“Council members expressed their appreciation to Matt Sherman for the work he had done and the time he put into the rink, but needed to be assured, since this was not the first time the procedure was not followed, that it would not happen again,” Wentworth said in the email. “Sherman was unwilling to give that assurance and continued to argue that he needed to be able to spend money whenever he felt it was needed and should not have to get prior approval from the rest of the Recreation Commission members or from the Common Council.”

The Common Council voted 4-3 against reimbursing Sherman.?Wentworth voted against the reimbursement.

“Matt spends hours on that rink, and if it weren’t for his efforts, it probably wouldn’t happen,” King said Friday. “I would not disagree that procedurally we need to take care of things the right way, but when he got this sign there really wasn’t a Recreation Commission. Unfortunately, things in government don’t happen quickly and we just wanted to get this going for the kids.”

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