Around The County – Letter from Blooming Grove Councilwoman Sonia Ayala To South Blooming Grove Village Board

Questions and Concerns sent to Village of South Blooming Grove Board

This is my email sent to the Village of South Blooming Grove Mayor and Board Members on October 7, 2020, and as of this date have not received a response.

I am writing this email as a resident of the Village; not as an elected official. 

I have a few questions and comments about the new positions of Confidential Assistant and Legislative Aide to the Mayor.

  1. Why are these positions needed in a small Village?
  2. What legal process was followed to create these positions?
  3. Is the Village going to be putting salaries/benefits for these positions?
  4. What are the job descriptions for these positions?
  5. Are these volunteer positions?
  6. Will these positions have access to attorney/client privilege meetings with the Board members?
  7. Will these positions be covered by insurance if actions by individuals holding these positions commit acts that are detrimental to the Village and sued?
  8. Were Trustees Belfort and Ross informed of the creation of these positions before the vote?

I researched the new Village attorney, Scott Ugell, and his areas of practice are:

  1. Family and Matrimonial
  2. Bankruptcy and Debt Relief
  3. Business Law
  4. Civil litigation
  5. Criminal Defense
  6. Divorce
  7. Estate Planning
  8. Foreclosure Protection
  9. Loan Modification/Loss Mitigation
  10. Real Estate Law

Nowhere does it show that he has Municipal Law experience.  The Village needs a qualified, experienced Municipal lawyer.  A Municipal Lawyer would have advised you on the process of creating positions.  What process was used to select the Village Attorney?  Were other law firms contacted to provide a proposal for their services?

We have the Merriewold Filtration system project ongoing, and I am concerned that with the switch of engineers in the middle of the project it will affect and delay the completion of it.  Why not let the former engineering firm complete this project; then go through a process of selecting a new engineering firm?

Also, why are these positions also assigned as liaisons to various Committees?  The Trustees are more than able to be the liaisons.  We are a small village with 3,000 plus residents – we don’t need bloated government; we need limited government and have our elected officials do their jobs.

The Board sent out a press release regarding the Reorganization meeting stating – “Neither the Village Board members nor the public will be present in-person at Village Hall during the virtual meeting.”  This did not happen.  All Board members, except two Trustees, Village Clerk, Village attorney and those handling the Zoom equipment were in Village Hall.  Trustee Belfort got there late because after watching the Zoom meeting he realized you were all present.  He was not informed of the change; neither were the residents.  Again, a Municipal Lawyer would have advised you of what to do.

I have attached the New York State Local Government handbook.  I suggest that you review Chapter 8 – Village Government.  It is very informative.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Sonia Ayala

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