Monday, August 31, 2009

Copyright © 2009 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc

Ulster County sues Nevele for outstanding taxes, payments in lieu of taxes

KINGSTON – Ulster County his filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Nevele Hotel in an effort to collect all payments in lieu of taxes and unpaid taxes owed the county.

According to the complaint filed in State Supreme Court on Friday, the county is owed $290,959, plus penalties, interest and attorneys’ fees.

The Ulster County Industrial Development agency was also named in the suit by the county, but the IDA was included for procedural purposes and the county is not seeking any money or remedies from it.

In 2008, the hotel, which ended its tax exempt status, agreed to pay existing county, town and highway taxes in three installments.

The complaint said the Nevele paid the first payment, but not the second or third totaling $74,290.

The 2009 county, town, high and special district taxes totaling $161,388 are also unpaid, according to the suit as is $55,280 in county motel tax.

County Executive Michael Hein said he looks forward to working with the new owner, but the hotel has an obligation to the taxpayers of the county.

An auction company will be accepting bids for the hotel on Tuesday.

Affordable housing complex opens in Ulster County
Copyright © 2009 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.

ELLENVILLE – It was a vacant lot, but now could be a Field of Dreams for prospective homeowners.

Ellenville village, state and federal officials were on hand Monday for the opening of the Buttermilks Falls townhouse complex near the accent over Shawangunks, a 15-unit, $3.4 million project to help bring more homeownership to the village.

“These are 15 townhouse units for sale for homebuyers earning up to 100 percent for the median income, and we have four units for that,” said Kevin O’Connor, the executive director of the Rural Ulster Preservation Company, which helped develop the complex. ”And we have 11 units for folks earning up 80 percent of Ulster County’s median income.”

The median income in Ulster County is $70,000 for a family of four, and the units are priced at $127,000 and $144,000. O’Connor said there has been interest in more than half of the units so far.

“We have been working in the Village of Ellenville for a number of years,” said O’Connor.” This was a site that was vacant for as long as anyone could remember, and it was an opportunity to bring home ownership to the Village of Ellenville. They fit in with the community. We were able save the mature tree line along Canal Street.”

The project was reliant on state funding and housing subsidies, and Deborah Van Amerongen, the commissioner of New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, said this complex helps with the revitalization of communities like Ellenville, which have been suffered economically over the years.

“It’s great to provide home ownership opportunities anywhere in this state, particularly in areas where there has been economic downturn,” she said. “People really haven’t had the opportunity to have good decent housing, particularly brand new homes like this.”
Congressman Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, was a featured speaker prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“It’s very nicely done, and it’s attractive. It’s going to make a big difference in the lives of the people who live in these townhouses,” he said, following a tour of a unit. “It’s another example of the positive things happening here in Ulster County.”

Ulster comptroller faults Social Services Department - The Daily Freeman News: Serving the Hudson Valley since 1871(

Ulster comptroller faults Social Services Department - The Daily Freeman News: Serving the Hudson Valley since 1871(

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Thursday, August 27, 2009



Poor Internal Controls May Have Contributed to Missing Money

KINGSTON, NY (August 27, 2009)… Comptroller Elliott Auerbach has released his audit of the Ulster County Department of Social Services’ Medicaid Spend-Down Program. The report identifies a lack of written policies and procedures on file for staff to follow, duties not sufficiently segregated to provide appropriate checks and balances, inadequate safeguards for cash collection, deposits not made timely, receipts not always issued and a failed receipting system.

“We found a significant lack of management oversight to insure that this Program, which is designed to handle tens of thousands of dollars in client monies, is run efficiently and effectively,” said Auerbach.

Early in his first term as County Comptroller, Elliott Auerbach learned of a February 2008 reported theft of $1,320.00 from twenty-one client accounts which prompted his audit of the Program.

“In the course of this audit my staff uncovered an additional $3,424.30 in cash receipts from another fifty-three client accounts not deposited,” explained the Comptroller. “DSS lacks both a system and a secure collection facility and is finally addressing those issues nearly eighteen months after reporting the theft.”

The audit also found that the Medicaid Spend-Down accounts entered into NYS’s Welfare Management System are not reconciled against Ulster County’s accounting system and the DSS Accounting Department’s subsidiary record of each client’s history.

“When accounts are not reconciled we cannot be sure all transactions have been properly recorded and this is not acceptable practice,” said Auerbach.

“It was also troubling to learn that the required recertification process instituted by the New York State Department of Health was not followed,” said Auerbach. The audit found that client identification and citizenship were not always being verified based on reports received from the Federal Social Security Administration.

A survey of Medicaid employees, included in the report, disclosed that case workers feel that case loads are excessive, resulting in a suffering morale. Employees also cited slow and cumbersome technology resources and ineffective allocation of duties as key concerns.

While acknowledging that the County’s financial management system is grossly inadequate and contributes to some of the challenges cited in the audit, the Comptroller stated his expectation “that departments have a responsibility to insure appropriate care, custody and control of client and County funds.”

The Medicaid Spend-Down Program is a pay-in plan unique to New York State that provides coverage for medical related expenses for Medicaid eligible individuals.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

(google image)
(Ulster County Release)
Kingston, NY (August 27, 2009) - Melissa Scott, Co-director of Wolf’s Daycare
Center was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly submitting bills totaling $10,566
to the Ulster County Department of Social Services. She was charged with a
misdemeanor for falsifying business records in the second degree and was arraigned
in the Town of Ulster Court before the Honorable Susan Kesick. The matter has been
adjourned to a later date.

The charges were filed after a six month investigation conducted by the Ulster County
Department of Social Services Special Investigations Unit, the Town of Ulster Police
Department and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Childcare Unit.

The charges stemmed from bills that were submitted for services to children that were
allegedly not rendered.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We are getting close to adopting the long awaited WHISTLE BLOWER protection that will afford county employees safe passage when it comes to raising questionable practices.

Ulster whistleblower proposal nears full legislative vote

KINGSTON – The Human Development and Personnel Committee has given its nod to whistleblower legislation proposed for Ulster County government employees and there is one more committee that must approve it before it can be placed on the floor for a full legislative vote.

The Administrative Services Committee has already approved it and Human Development Committee Chairman Donald Gregorius Monday said he believes it has stood up to several tests.

“We have honed it down as fine as we can do. It’s been through the county attorney and the legislative attorney and we hope to have it in place for a vote in the September meeting,” he said.

The Laws and Rules Committee is the final step before the full vote.

The whistleblower law idea stems from a proposal by County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ulster County starts study of employee cell phone use (

KINGSTON – The Ulster County Legislature has begun its look into county employee use of cell phones following an audit by County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach found the county spent $200,000 on cell phone bills last year.

County Legislature Administrative Services Committee Chairwoman Jeanette Provenzano said her committee is exploring options to reduce spending.

“We are looking forward to whatever policy changes that we can make to tighten up the information so we know who is using the cell phones, making sure we know who has them by name and what the use is for,” she said.

The cost of the usage last year was 40 percent above 2007, Auerbach found. He said, in some cases, cell phone plans were the “Cadillac” plans.

Comptroller blocks bridge-painting contract |

Comptroller blocks bridge-painting contract |

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Comptroller Elliott Auerbach presenting a check for over $61,000.00 to Town of Wawarsing Supervisor Ed Jennings at Thursday evening's Town Board meeting. Looking on are Town Clerk Jane Eck and Councilmen Terry Houck, Tom Geelan and John Gavaris.

KINGSTON, NY (August 20, 2009)…Comptroller Elliott Auerbach personally delivers a check for $61,486.90 to Town of Wawarsing Officials on Thursday evening, August 20, 2009. The check represents monies owed to the Town from a 2007 PAYMENT IN LIEU OF TAXES (PILOT) from the Nevele Grande Hotel.

Auerbach uncovered the money during an examination of payments made to the County which revealed that $24,341.88 was owed to Wawarsing’s General Fund and $37,145.02 was owed to their Highway Fund.

The Comptroller continues to pursue over $600,000.00 owed by the Nevele to Ulster County, the Town of Wawarsing, the Village of Ellenville, the Ellenville Central School District and the Ellenville Library.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Comptroller Leads Collaboration to Secure Tax Dollars

KINGSTON, NY (August 12, 2009)… Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach has led the effort to protect taxpayers of the County, the Town of Wawarsing, the Ellenville School District, the Ellenville Public Library and the Village of Ellenville and to recoup funds owed by the owners of the recently closed NEVELE GRANDE RESORT.

“Ulster County residents are on the hook for nearly one-half million dollars for taxes and fees owed by the Nevele” said Auerbach. “This is a financial burden to the three municipalities and the two districts. Each entity is at risk and I felt it was best to launch a coordinated effort, with the help of Ulster County Attorney Bea Havranek and County Executive Michael Hein so that the county, the town, the village, the library and the school could take whatever legal steps are necessary to ensure collection.”

Comptroller Auerbach explained that Ulster County taxpayers, through the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency UCIDA (Industrial Development Agency), have already aided the resort’s owners by providing a “payment in lieu of taxes” or PILOT agreement to reduce their tax burden. “Our UCIDA has provided healthy incentives and tax-breaks to assist the NEVELE GRANDE to evolve into a premier tourist destination” said Auerbach, “It is unfortunate the Nevele must go to auction,” said the Comptroller, “but the people of Ulster County must be made whole.”

“I see this as a valuable opportunity to collect revenues at a time when government sorely needs it,” said Auerbach, “at the same time, we look forward to the possibilities new ownership can bring to restore vitality to this time-honored resort.”

The chart below outlines funds owed by the Nevele to Ulster County taxing jurisdictions:

Payment In Lieu Of Taxes Agreement
2009 2008
Ulster County $56,318363 $46,122.89
T Wawarsing General $28,816.43 $26,834.22
T Wawarsing
Highway $44,215.88 $38,478.87
Interest &Penalty $15,974.80 $19,315.57
TOTAL $145,325.77 $93,606.22*
*$37,145.32 paid on 05/30/2008

Other Jurisdictions
Ulster Co. Occupancy Tax $50,000.00**
Ellenville Central School Dist. $255,695.74***
Ellenville Public Library $9402.97***
Village of Ellenville Water $155,480.36****
***Provided by Ellenville School District
****Provided by Village of Ellenville

Monday, August 10, 2009


Comptroller Auerbach Examines PILOT Payments

KINGSTON, NY (August 10, 2009)… A routine audit into PAYMENTS IN LIEU OF TAXES (PILOT) by Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach uncovered $61,486.90 owed to the Town of Wawarsing from a 2007 PILOT agreement between the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) and the Nevele Grande Hotel.

The Comptroller conducted a three year review with the help of Finance Commissioner Paul Hewitt and Head Account Clerk Brenna Lamoureux. The examination revealed a total of $104,554.98 in sporadic installment payments were received by the County Treasurer’s Office during 2008 but sums owed to the Town of Wawarsing for General and Highway taxes were never advanced. Auerbach informed Wawarsing officials that Ulster County will be forwarding payments of $24,341.88 for the Wawarsing General Fund and $37,145.02 for the Highway Fund.

Comptroller Auerbach continues to research other PILOT agreements to insure that the County and its Towns and Villages are not shortchanged.