Chatham Village board awaits state’s ‘risk review’

CHATHAM–Village Mayor Tom Curran confirmed at the regular board meeting August 9 that Village Treasurer Barbara Henry had resigned. She is no longer in the office but will be paid until August 24. The board also confirmed that the Office of the State Comptroller recently conducted what board members called a “risk assessment review” of village finances.

Commenting on the state review, Mayor Curran said, “They are going to make recommendations to see if we can do things better.”

Trustee Jay Rippel said that he was the person who contacted the office of state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli after becoming concerned with some of the village bookkeeping. He said he called to ask the comptroller for advice which led to officials of the office coming into the village to conduct the review. “What’s been found, they don’t release that to us,” he said, but there will be follow-up.

Trustee Mike Wollowitz pointed out that the village was due for the review, saying that he was told by the representative from the Comptroller’s Office who came to the village that “we were probably overdue for them to come in any case.”

As for Ms. Henry’s resignation, the mayor and other board members said they did not feel comfortable talking about it without their attorney present to advise them. The mayor stressed that much of the discussion on a personnel matter was conducted in an executive–closed door–session. The board held a special meeting in the late afternoon of July 25 with no agenda posted and held the meeting in executive session.

Residents at the board meeting expressed frustration that the board couldn’t say more about the situation. Stephen Piazza said at the meeting that having the Comptroller’s Office come into the village was “a pretty big thing.”

“I don’t think the comptroller comes into a village and pokes around… for a happy reason,” Mr. Piazza told the board.

Melony Spock, another resident at the meeting, asked the board that now that Ms. Henry has resigned how they planned to do things differently.

Board members stressed that there is more oversight on the finances. “It’s tightened-up,” said Mr. Wollowitz.

Later in the meeting the board tabled a motion to hire the current Village Accountant Robert Patterson to take over as treasurer at a rate of $45 an hour plus health benefits and dental insurance. Mr. Rippel said of Mr. Patterson, “I think he’s a good person to come in and get us on the right track.” But board members had more questions about his appointment and the term he would serve in the position.

The board plans to hold a special public meeting with the attorney present so they can report on what is going with the state’s review and the treasurer’s position. They did not set a date for that meeting by the end of the August 9 meeting.

Also at the meeting:

• The police are asking for $2,400 to put up signs in the center of crosswalks throughout the village that would alert drivers to yield to pedestrians. The board said they would need three quotes on the cost of the signs and would further discuss what budget line it should come from

• The board approved closing Main Street for Octoberfeast on October 6 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and also approved closing the municipal parking lot next to the Tracy Memorial for the event. CABA, which hosts the event, also needs to get permission from the Town of Chatham, which shares ownership of the parking lot.

The next Village Board meeting will be September 13 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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