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Lyonsdale supervisor steps down, citing time constraints

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PORT LEYDEN — Lyonsdale’s town supervisor has resigned, citing time constraints in the midst of ongoing public scrutiny.

“I genuinely care about the town,” said Marylou Hawk, who stepped down last Thursday after a little more than a year at the town’s helm. “I don’t have the time to give it what it deserves.”

Mrs. Hawk, after serving on the Town Council for eight years, was appointed as the town’s first-ever female supervisor in January 2012, then earned an additional one-year term in last fall’s election.

However, Mrs. Hawk, who simultaneously had worked for an accounting firm in Oneida County, said time requirements for the $7,500-per-year supervisor post made it difficult also to handle a regular day job.

A recent audit of town books by the state comptroller’s office had no bearing on her decision and actually kept her on longer, she said. “That was my reason for hanging on as long as I did,” she said.

The audit was conducted as part of the state cycle, not by request, and will offer recommendations for improvements, Mrs. Hawk said, noting she could not discuss specifics until release of the final report. “It was long overdue,” she said.

Council members soon after Mrs. Hawk’s appointment chose not to retain the town’s longtime bookkeeper in favor of contracting with Lowville accounting firm Nagy & Croniser.

That and other issues — including her choice of former supervisor Roscoe K. “Rocky” Fawcett Jr. as a nonvoting, unpaid deputy supervisor — led to animosity between her and town Highway Superintendent Matthew J. Farr.

Mrs. Hawk also had to abstain from voting on some matters, because her husband is part of the town highway crew.

Several family members and supporters of Mr. Farr since early last year have complained about a perceived lack of communication from board members and regularly attended meetings to question them about town business and finances.

The group also gathered bank statements and other financial information through Freedom of Information Law requests, according to Mrs. Hawk.

Attempts to reach Mr. Farr on Wednesday were not successful.

Mrs. Hawk noted that a televised report mentioning a $100,000 loan taken out by the town was somewhat inaccurate. It was actually a $90,000 revenue anticipation note, paid off within 90 days, that was used to maintain town operations until state Consolidated Highway Improvement Program funds came in, she said.

Particularly given tax cap constraints, “there is not a lot of money left to shuffle around,” Mrs. Hawk said.

The town also was notified in early February by the state Department of Environmental Conservation of several violations at the town garage on River Road. They included improper labeling of fuel and oil tanks and color coding of fill ports, having an above-ground tank without corrosion protection and failure to conduct monthly inspections. Some soil contamination was found that could date back as far as 1987, according to DEC officials.

The town soon will have to submit a plan for those issues that cannot be corrected immediately, Mrs. Hawk said, adding that some also were noted by DEC a year ago.

With Councilman P. Donald Gydesen also resigning earlier this year, the board now has two vacancies that may be filled by appointment until permanent replacements are elected this fall.

The council on Tuesday adjusted signatory status so that other board members could sign checks in the absence of a supervisor or deputy supervisor but were unable to name a new supervisor immediately since a potential candidate had not consented, Mrs. Hawk said. “I have full confidence that the board will move forward on things,” she said.

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