Quarrels stall Guilderland Town Board meeting

Fellow Republican Mark Grimm backed Redlich's request, "The assessment issue is an important issue in the town of Guilderland. We believe it is a broken assessment process, and we want to fix it."

Grimm said 600 Guilderland residents challenged their property assessments in 2005, to which Runion pointed out less than 20 did so in 2006.

"That's because people feel it's not useful to challenge based on the process," replied Grimm.

Failing to reach a compromise regarding the agenda item, the board then voted unanimously to approve the minutes from the previous meeting and proceed.

The feud left at least one spectator in the crowd shaking his head.

"I'm very distressed by what I'm seeing here," said Doug Smith of McKownville as he addressed the board. "You're wasting the taxpayers' money, and I really want you to stop that."

The calm didn't last long. After approving a handful of items the board soon reached another impasse, this time regarding the promotion of Guilderland police officer Eric Batchelder to sergeant. Citing concerns about a possible violation of police department policy, Grimm requested the board enter into executive session to discuss a personnel matter.

Democratic board members and the supervisor questioned the validity of the information.

"I would just like to know the source of the information so that I can satisfy myself that you actually have a source," said Runion to Grimm. "I don't want to go into executive session on unsubstantiated rumor."

Grimm said he would not divulge the source of the information, either in public or in executive session, citing a concern for negative repercussions against the informant. After a 20-minute discussion, the board eventually voted in favor of entering into executive session with Runion casting the only opposing vote.

The meeting's tone prompted the town clerk of eight years, Rosemary Centi, to exit the meeting, saying aloud, "I'm ashamed to be a part of this board."

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