A dispute broke out last week between Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi and Councilman Denis McCarthy over the handling of the broadcast of the July 11 town board meeting.
McCarthy said last week, “the public process is again being compromised in Mount Pleasant.”
McCarthy accused Fulgenzi of preventing the broadcasting of the meeting on cable television and Fios, which instead has been broadcasting the June 27 meeting. By not allowing the July 11 meeting to be televised Fulgenzi is “keeping our constituency in the dark on some important legislation before the board,” McCarthy asserted.
One of the items on the July 11 meeting agenda was the legislation titled “Legalization and Working Without Building Permit Fees.” As stated in the legislation, the town does not charge a fine for doing work without paying a building permit fee first. The town currently charges a building permit fee of $100 per application. The legislation proposes to raise the building permit fee to $1,000 and charge a minimum of $500 fine for work done without permits.
“This has been an area of lost revenue for many years and would have us in compliance with many other towns and villages throughout Westchester County,” the legislation stated.
A public hearing on the legislation was opened during the July 11 meeting and at its Aug. 1 work session the town board came to a consensus to continue the public hearing at the Sept. 12 public meeting.
McCarthy said during the July 11 meeting he proposed that the town board consider an amnesty period to inform homeowners of the potential building permit fee increases. The fines would be for renovations made to structures not listed on a certificate of occupancy,
“I believe we, the town board, should ensure the building department is seeking a comprehensive approach toward ensuring compliance with building codes rather than seeking to penalize our residents, especially since there was considerable mismanagement and fraudulent abuse by a previous building inspector from over a decade ago,” McCarthy said. “I oppose the forcing through of legislation that could affect a lot of homeowners via a public hearing in the ‘Dog Days’ of summer, when many take vacation.”
For his part, Fulgenzi said he took issue with McCarthy’s comments.
“I did not realize Denis was running against me,” Fulgenzi said last week. “He is obviously running with no issues so he makes them up and uses me as a target.”
“His comment about me intentionally preventing the broadcasting of the previous town board meeting and letting the broadcast from town hall go on without attention for months is ludicrous and if he paid any attention to what goes on in town hall he would have heard our discussion about the broadcast system originally going through Valhalla High School,” Fulgenzi said. “Equipment was removed by mistake by people working in the school. By the time we found the cause I had new equipment installed in town hall with new wiring on the poles to insulate us from this problem in the future at no cost to the taxpayers.”
“The July 11th meeting, as with all meetings, is handled directly by our media recorder who after each meeting inserts the disc into the player and sets up the schedule to play. I do not know how or want to handle that at all,” Fulgenzi said. “That particular meeting was, as are all the previous meetings this year, put on the Web site as soon as the producer was able to get it on there. It has been on there for some time.”
Fulgenzi criticized McCarthy’s idea about having an amnesty period before the proposed fines for doing building work without having paid building department fees. “I guess Denis thought he looked good suggesting an amnesty period for residents who willingly did not report improvements on their properties so as to avoid an increase in their assessment,” Fulgenzi said. “His misguided thinking is that if you have an amnesty period people will flock in to legalize violations right away so they can pay more taxes. Residents come in when they know they are selling and need a CO (certificate of occupancy). In cases where residents unknowingly have violations from a previous owner there is always the avenue of making a request to the board for leniency. We are not heartless and some communities make you remove the violation.”
Fulgenzi said McCarthy is “not a team player” in his capacity as a town board member. “That does not mean we all must agree. Democracy is the exchange of ideas and coming to a consensus that best serves the community” Fulgenzi said. “He fails to understand his job as a councilman; he was elected to represent the people of Mount Pleasant, to be able to make tough decisions in the best interest of the community. If he is not comfortable making those decisions on his own without constantly taking a poll then he is not right for the job,” Fulgenzi said.
In recent weeks the town’s Republicans have broken with McCarthy, who was not endorsed for his reelection bid by the town Republican committee. McCarthy said he is seeking to run a primary for his seat against the town GOP Committee endorsed candidates Councilwoman Laurie Smalley and former Councilman Thomas Sialiano. Also seeking to be part of the GOP council seat primary in September is Joseph Soricelli, a member of the town’s zoning board of appeals.