2017-09-13 / Front Page

Supervisors respond to questions arising from Delhi building buy

Complicated process points to possible conflicts of interest
By Stacie Skelley

Continuing its investigation into potential conflicts of interest in the Delaware County purchase of a portion of the 97 Main Street building in Delhi, the News this week spoke extensively with Hamden Wayne Marshfield, who as a member of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, (DCBOS) serves on the Community Health and Finance Committees of the board in addition to serving as the chair of the Social Services Committee.

Marshfield objected to aspects of last week’s News story and provided us with information that was not available to us at the time the story was filed.

To be as fair and open as possible, the News has re-printed below, in its entirety, the statement Marshfield made in Executive Session, to his fellow supervisors at a full meeting of the DCBOS in May.

Closed session

Executive sessions are closed to all public and press and considered confidential by all participants, so this statement was not released to the News as part of our FOIL requests. We did not receive it after last week’s article was printed.

Marshfield objected to the News statement that his wife Karen “Kit” Marshfield worked in an agency that his committee oversees. He said that she was an employee of Delaware Support & Services, a private company that has a contract with the county to deliver the Legacy Corps services his wife provided.

But Marshfield did acknowledge that he is on three sub committees of the DCBOS that are all responsible in one way or another for oversight of department finances and various programs, which in this case, did provide his wife’s income.

Marshfield correctly noted that the Rettew Engineering lease for an upstairs portion of the building will expire on January 31 not January 1 as the News stated and that Michael Spaccaforno is not a member of the Social Services committee.

While Marshfield was clear on these items, other issues remained murky. Fred Onash, trustee for United Ministries said he had an informal conversation with Wayne Shepard in January 2017 that there were potential buyers for 6 Court Street. It’s why United Ministries did not sign the 2017 lease in January.

Lengthy process

He also said the sale would be a very lengthy process as it would need to go through the combined congregations of United Ministry as well as a number of other requirements in selling Church property in New York State. Assuming Onash’s recollection would mean the informal notification to county officials was actually more like five months than the 90 days claimed by officials now.

When asked why a review process was not immediately commenced upon that informal notice, Marshfield said his committee didn’t get “official” notice from Wayne Shepard about the “informal” notice, until March. Minutes of an Office for the Aging advisory board meeting of February 27, with Chairman Eugene Pigford and Supervisor members Wayne Marshfield, Mike Triolo and Art Merrill show that the matter was discussed then. The News has not been able to ascertain at this time, why Wayne Shepard might have delayed in advising Marshfield of the potential loss of his rental space and need to look for a new location immediately.

Standard operating procedure at the DCBOS is for committees to deal with issues, then bring matters to the full board for decisions. Marshfield waited until May to make his presentation to the full board supervisors because his Community Health Committee, overseers of the Office for the Aging, was handling the process.

Marshfield indicated that once he knew of the problem, no realtor was engaged to help find potential sites, and that at the time 97 Main Street was not listed on the MLS as a building for sale.

Word gets around

He stated that, “Like any small neighborhood, people know much of what is going on and that includes properties for sale, etc. If I recall, someone on the committee knew it was for sale, not sure exactly who it was.”

Marshfield told the News that after purchasing the building in April of 2017 for $500,000, Randy Shepard was justified in selling it to the county two months later for $675,000 because the building was worth that amount to the county officials trying to purchase it.

“Like I said before, this building is worth more to the county for various reasons. It was a building that gave our seniors everything they needed all under one roof. It is also a building that is next to the existing county 99 Main building, accessed easily by building maintenance, easily accessed by IT, a place where we can offer congregate meals and home delivered meals, a place where the seniors can gather for meetings, exercise classes, which these cannot be done under the current Luce building.

Saying that they are now in the process of getting an appraisal, Marshfield was asked what would happen if the property being purchased does not appraise above $500,000.

Lease rate leaps

The most recent lease at the church property cost the county $875 a month. The lease at Shepard’s 97 Main Street property is $5,160 a month.

In addition to the purchase price it will pay, the county will have to make changes to the 97 Main Street structure, a budget for which is not currently available.

When asked what in the county budget will need to take a loss for the county to pay these differences, or if is it expected that it will result in increased taxes, Marshfield indicated Art Merrill of the Finance Committee would have to address those questions.

He added that while, “Mr. Merrill can answer this better than I can, we are hopeful to stay under the tax cap this year, first time ever. Any overages will be covered by our fund balance, if needed. Again a budget director can elaborate more on this if need be.”

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