Payment questioned for Bennett security
MILLBROOK — At its Dec. 13 meeting, the Village Board discussed an outstanding $38,160 invoice owed to 20 individuals who provided security at the former Bennett College site following a large dormer collapse in June.The incident caused the already deteriorating structure to be deemed unsafe under the village building code.Although the building’s safety is the responsibility of the property owner, Bennett Acquisitions LLC, the board deemed it necessary to set up an immediate 24-hour security detail to keep people from venturing on the property. Policeman Justin Scribner, the officer in charge for the village, and Mayor Laura Hurley spoke with Bennett Acquisitions and agreed to take necessary actions to make the building secure.When the village started the process, the property owner reportedly became unresponsive to the village. The village took the situation to court and the judge deemed developer Brickman Associates not responsible for the safety of the property. Scribner put together a group of 20 men and women who worked the 24-hour security shifts at the Bennett site when it was needed.“The village felt it was necessary at that point to try and keep the security. However, it was not a village security force; it was something that our officer in charge set up separately,” Hurley said. In court, the judge awarded the village’s request for a preliminary injunction to construct a safety fence around the property. The village has taxed a resolution authorizing that the bill for the fence be relevied on the property owner in the upcoming tax bill. Hurley asked Village Attorney Rebecca Valk to check the security part of the resolution because the village has an invoice for $38,160. This is the amount of the outstanding security bill owed to the 20 individuals who took on the 24-hour security work.“We would very much like to have this relevied under the emergency provision as needed for safety,” Hurley said. “We want to make sure that will be covered there. There were several folks who put in a lot of hours — 1,272 hours at $30 an hour added up, and this has been outstanding since the security detail of June 12 through July 17. Our concern over the past couple of months is to just make sure that we were covered and this is not going to be a huge impact on our budget.”The board discussed the situation at its Dec. 13 board meeting. Town of Washington resident Alec Pandaleon raised concerns at the meeting about the outstanding security bill.“Lets face it. The debt is owed by the village whether or not the landowner pays,” Pandaleon said. “The recipient of the goods and services of the security is the village. I just want to point out that the delay in paying in October was an inconvenience, and now it’s become a hardship. We have one of the officers here tonight who takes care of a terminally ill mother. He has medical bills to pay. In two weeks, one of the other officers is deploying to Afghanistan for a full year, and he’s got a family to take care of. They undertook the work with the understanding that by the end of the period they would be paid.”Hurley said there was a misunderstanding from Scribner as to when the security bill would be paid, but this is not a village expense. The board went into executive session to make a decision after discussing their options with Valk. Following the session, the board said it would pay the full amount and relevy the cost on the tax bill. The individuals who provided security should be paid before the end of the year.