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New Lake George town board fires financial staff, shakes up planning panel

Listening to government watchdog and critic John Salvador speak during the town of Lake George’s  organizational meeting held Tuesday Jan. 3 are (front, right to left): town board members Marisa Muratori, Vinnie Crocitto, town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson and board member Fran Heinrich. The board enacted a controversial shakeup of the planning board — under Muratori’s initiative — and fired all the town’s financial staff members. Both action were decided in split votes.

Listening to government watchdog and critic John Salvador speak during the town of Lake George’s organizational meeting held Tuesday Jan. 3 are (front, right to left): town board members Marisa Muratori, Vinnie Crocitto, town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson and board member Fran Heinrich. The board enacted a controversial shakeup of the planning board — under Muratori’s initiative — and fired all the town’s financial staff members. Both action were decided in split votes. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Emerging from a lengthy closed-door session during its first few minutes in power, the new Lake George Town Board decided in split votes to replace two town Planning Board members and fire the town’s entire financial staff.

The town board voted 3-2 Tuesday, Jan. 3 to replace Planning Board members John Carr and Joe Mastrodomenico, with new appointees Kevin Mulcahy and Patricia Marek.

The board also voted 3-1 to terminate the town Comptroller Kathy Gleason, and replace her with Wendy Baird — as well as eliminate the positions of full-time senior account clerk and part-time account clerk.

The three new board members representing the Lake George Citizens Group Party in the 2011 election voted in favor of the shakeup of the financial staff. The two Republican board members left over from the prior board didn’t vote for the action — Vinnie Crocitto abstained in the vote due to knowing the people being fired, and Heinrich voted No, criticizing the move.

“The board is acting in a hasty manner, and more information is necessary before changes are made,” she said.

During the past year, Lake George Citizens Group members had criticized town budgeting, and had called for greater transparency on expenditures and employee compensation, issues that the former board was busy tackling after a relatively recent prior turnover in the town supervisor post.

Tuesday, being booted off the planning board caught Mastrodomenico and Carr by surprise. Mastrodomenico was the town hall, intending to attend the planning board meeting directly after the town board met, but found out he had been replaced.

John Carr was reached by phone in Tampa Fla. soon after the organizational meeting. Both Carr and Mastrodomenico said they had had expected to continue serving on the Planning Board and weren’t consulted or interviewed for serving the new term.

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