Phillips to board: Shape up!

09/23/2010 12:00 AM |

Mary Bess Phillips

She’s mad as hell and she’s not going to take it any longer. That was the message Trustee Mary Bess Phillips delivered to Mayor David Nyce and Greenport Village Board members Monday night, complaining about long delays in implementing board policies and resolutions.

She also expressed “significant concern” about the flow of information to residents, calling it “confusing.”

She asked the mayor to ensure that the Village Hall administrative team provides comprehensive reports on the status of ongoing projects, noting that the current system, in which various departments individually report their activities, “dilutes the information that the public is seeking from this municipality.”

Trying to track progress on the $9 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade requires linking reports from the utilities department, the treasurer and village attorney, Ms. Phillips said. There needs to be a more comprehensive way of tracking work schedules, costs and the status of applications for reimbursements and payments from the Environmental Facilities Corporation, which is funding the project with $4.3 million in federal stimulus money, she said.

“As the supervisor of the administrative team, I am requesting a discussion of the concerns to either create a plan of action or [explain] why not from your team at the next work session,” Ms. Phillips wrote in a letter addressed to the mayor, which she submitted to the board Monday night.

She described herself as “completely frustrated” at getting projects done and getting information out to the public.

Trustee Chris Kempner jumped into the discussion, saying she understood Ms. Phillips’ frustrations but the mayor and administrators work very hard.

“I’m not disputing that,” Ms. Phillips shot back.

“Your point is very well taken,” Mr. Nyce said. At the same time, he said he was “astounded” at the number of projects the tiny village had on its plate with only a small staff to oversee operations. He said he was open to a revised format for tracking projects and reporting their progress to residents.

After the meeting, Ms. Phillips reiterated an earlier statement that she has no plans to run against Mr. Nyce, who will seek a second four-year term in March. But she said that she was devoting a great deal of time as a trustee and wants her efforts to be productive.

She said her comments aren’t aimed at specific village employees, and are only intended to improve communication within Village Hall and provide a better flow of information to constituents.

She even sided with regular board critic and former trustee Bill Swiskey when he expressed frustration with getting information from Village Hall. But she objected to his ongoing criticism of how money is being tracked by new treasurer Charlene Kagel. Ms. Kagel has been on the job only a couple of months and is still catching up and shouldn’t be blamed for past lapses in how records were kept, Ms. Phillips said.

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