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Brockport’s Weak $10 Fee for a life-safety Inspection Deficiency

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Sometimes you have to speak out about mistakes made by politicians you support. Everybody is human, and everybody makes mistakes.

But that doesn’t mean politicians get a free pass just because we voted for them.

Believe it or not, Brockport Mayor Margay Blackman is not aware that the fee for a life-safety Inspection Deficiency in a rental property is only “$10.00 each item”.

That’s right; a measly ten bucks for each life-safety Inspection Deficiency in a rental property.

Ten days ago, an examiner.com article, Brockport’s Fee Schedule May Not be Legal, pointed this out.

The fee for a life-safety deficiency is less than the fee for non life-safety items

It’s a good thing that Brockport’s annual organizational meeting is coming up July 21st, because that gives the Village Trustees the time to read the fee Schedule, laugh at the stupid mistakes, and then amend the Fee Schedule so it makes sense.

But during a phone conversation on Thursday, Mayor Blackman said that she had “scanned the article but hadn’t read it.” So she was totally unaware that the fee is only ten bucks.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

You can tell a politician about a gaping hole in the fee schedule, but you can’t make her read the Fee Schedule to find the stupid mistake.

During the phone conversation I literally had to tell her what page of the Fee Scheduled the $10 fee is on, and I had to tell her where to look on page 4 to find it.

Margay Blackman has voted to approve that ridiculously low fee three times, but she may never have taken the time to read the 6-page document, even though the entire fee schedule is only 1,517 words long.

As a Trustee, Blackman voted to approve the fee schedule during the regular (plus annual organizational) meeting of the Board of Trustees on July 27, 2011.

The motion passed 4/1. Trustee Blackman, Blair, Hannan, and Hunsinger, voted yes. Mayor Castaneda voted no.

A year later, during the regular (plus annual organizational) meeting of the Board of Trustees on July 24, 2012, Trustee Blackman introduced the motion to approve the same fee schedule which included the same $10 fee.

Trustee Carol Hannan seconded the motion, which passed 5/0. Mayor Castaneda, and Trustees Bill Andrews, Margay Blackman, Kent Blair, and Carol Hannan all voted yes.

Last year, at the regular (plus annual organizational) meeting of the Board of Trustees on July 15, 2013, Mayor Margay Blackman voted to approve the same fee schedule again.

The motion was introduced by Trustee Hannan and seconded by Trustee La Pierre, and carried 5/0.

Mayor Margaret B. Blackman, and Trustees Bill Andrews, Val Ciciotti, Carol Hannan, and John La Pierre all voted to approve the measly $10 fee for each life-safety Inspection Deficiency in a rental property.

Castaneda’s yes vote at that 2012 meeting should have been a signal that something was wrong.

A year earlier Castaneda had attacked the fee schedule because of “the constant drive to punish business owners and renters for the crime of wanting to live and invest in the Village.”

Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and it’s easy to point fingers, but nobody noticed it at the time.

In fact nobody noticed the mistake until last Tuesday evening, during a discussion about code enforcement.

Several prominent pro-village residents expressed their growing frustration that code enforcement still hasn’t improved, despite the fact that village residents have elected a pro-village mayor and four pro-village trustees.

One of the things discussed was the need to hire an assistant code enforcement officer, who could handle the tasks that Larry Vaughan used to handle.

But the Mayor and the Trustees have said the Village cannot afford to hire an assistant code enforcement officer.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Anonymous

That led to a discussion of why the revenue from the code enforcement fees is so low. Pam Ketchum mentioned that the code enforcement fees should cover the expenses of the code enforcement office, but they don’t.

A FOIL request for the figures has been submitted to the Village Clerk and the complete figures should be available later this week. But the initial indications are that the fee revenues are very low.

Margay Blackman was part of that e-mail discussion last Tuesday night, and toward the end of the e-mail exchange she defended new Code Enforcement Officer David J. Miller.

Blackman said that Miller has already cited Fred Webster for an exterior violation on one of his rental properties, and that he has also convinced Norm Giancursio to put a top on a dumpster at one of his rental properties.

Blackman did a great job Tuesday night taking the edge off people’s frustration with the lack of progress in code enforcement.

So I called the Mayor at the village Office on Wednesday to praise her for doing such a good job taking the edge off people’s frustration.

That’s when the Mayor mentioned that that she had “scanned the article but hadn’t read it.”

And that’s when I literally had to tell her what page of the Fee Scheduled the $10 fee is on, and I tell her where to look on page 4 to find it.

The examiner.com article, Brockport’s Fee Schedule May Not be Legal, ended with these words.

It’s a good thing that Brockport’s annual organizational meeting is coming up July 21st, because that gives the Village Trustees the time to read the fee Schedule, laugh at the stupid mistakes, and then amend the Fee Schedule so it makes sense.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Lao-tzu, (604 BC - 531 BC)

But Mayor Blackman never bothered to read them.

Maybe Lao-tzu was wrong. Maybe a journey of a thousand miles begins when you realize that you actually have to take that first step.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

You can do someone’s homework for them, but they will still fail the course if they don’t bother to print out the homework and turn it in on time.

Margay Blackman is an incredibly intelligent and hard working woman, but sometimes she doesn’t do her homework.

Maybe it’s time for the Mayor and the Trustee to do their homework so they can fix the fee schedule at the July 21st meeting.

Brockport residents have been very vocal in saying that it is okay to criticize the Sweden Town Supervisor for not knowing that the Sweden Assessor is the person who granted more than six million dollars in tax exemptions.

Then, it’s okay to criticize the Mayor of Brockport for not knowing that the fee for each life-safety Inspection Deficiency in a rental property is a measly ten bucks.

No wonder people are frustrated with the slow pace of change in the village government.

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