FORESTVILLE - Mayor Charles Brewster quickly silenced any dissent or contention at the Forestville Village Board special meeting held on Friday evening. Also in attendance were trustees Linda Aures, Carol Woodward and Beth Bowker and about 20 residents.
"This is a special meeting. There will be no opening of the floor or anything tonight. We've got three orders of business here, and it's Friday. We all got places to go," Brewster said.
However, a resident in attendance took issue with closed public participation. "Some of us here have things to say," she said.
OBSERVER Photos by Shirley Pulawski
Forestville Mayor Charles Brewster would not permit comments during Friday’s meeting and appointed a new trustee without board approval.
Brewster remained firm. "No, ma'am, I have a right to keep this room silent and I'm within my right," Brewster said.
"You're not legally the mayor," said an audience member. "You don't live in the village."
Brewster disagreed. "So, I'm not the mayor?"
"No, you're not," the woman replied.
Brewster, who has his New York state vehicle license plate registered as "MAYOR B," replied, "That's funny I have things that say I am. Ma'am, you're out of order, and before I'm going to have you removed from here, I'm going to have to insist that everybody be silent while we take care of the business here." The argument dissipated and Brewster moved on.
The first order of business was to hire Bahgat and Bahgat as the village certified public accounting firm after an audit was initiated in April. According to Aures, after the resignation of the former clerk, the board felt it was necessary to bring in a professional agency to update the village record keeping until a new clerk is hired.
After the resolution was read, Aures asked if a time limit and dollar amount had been set in the motion to be assured the village would not end up paying for both a clerk and an accountant. A time limit of six months was added to the motion by Bowker, and Brewster added that the time could be extended by a resolution.
The second resolution was to pay an increased amount to Municipal Solutions, the contractor hired for the village public water project.
At the last board meeting on June 26, a resolution was tabled to accept an increase in the contractual cost for Municipal Solutions services on the village water project from $50,000 to $64,000. At that meeting, Brewster explained Municipal Solutions is asking for more money because the project has run longer than expected.
According to Aures, it was tabled to gain more information and it was her expectation a representative from Municipal Solutions would meet with the board to explain the costs of the increase. Brewster said an additional charge would be incurred if a representative attended the meeting. "We're not going to be able to get somebody down here without more cost to it at this time of the day, Brewster said.
"At this time, I still don't feel comfortable," Aures told the board. "That's fine," Brewster replied. Aures cast the sole dissenting vote and the motion passed.
The third item of business was to fill the vacant seat left by Justin Dix, who resigned last month. "As mayor, I will be appointing Kimberly Stott as trustee, who will be filling the remainder of the term," Brewster told those present. The term of the appointee ends in March.
"I'd like to challenge that," Aures noted, "because on the tape of the last meeting, there were supposed to be interviews. The last applications were supposed to be in July 9th."
Brewster responded, "I received some letters. I read through them. The appointment of the trustee is done by the authority of the mayor. I'm making this appointment."
According to the New York Department of State Committee on Open Government website, a village mayor is legally able to solely appoint trustees.
Aures took issue with the statement. "But you said you would discuss it with the board and that has not been done."
"If there's a challenge, that's fine. We'll figure out how to get through that," Brewster explained.
Aures shared concerns. "Well this is why people wonder about this board, and the lack of character on this board," Aures stated.
The words "thank you" could be heard from the audience before it erupted into long applause and cheers.
Brewster broke the applause by asking "All in favor?" but to Aures disappointment, Brewster was referring to a motion to adjourn. "Nobody got my vote for appointing Kim Stott," Aures said.
"There is no vote," Brewster replied and wished the crowd a good evening as he quickly prepared to leave.
When asked if she would like to share any thoughts on the meeting, Aures said, "I would just like to say that when I ran for trustee, I did it because I was not pleased with the rapport between the Village Board and the residents of Forestville. And I'm standing by that, because the lack of transparency of this board is what has gotten it into trouble."
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