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Gloversville ice rink caretaker threatens to quit in payment flap

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
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— A volunteer who helped open the ice rink at Littauer Field and has maintained it on his own without compensation threatened to quit his efforts after the City Council rejected a reimbursement request for a sign he bought without authorization.

Matthew Sherman, who has since been appointed to the city’s Recreation Commission, told the council he was “done” at a meeting Tuesday night following a 4-3 vote against his request to be paid $135 for the sign, according to participants.

He bought the sign, which advertises the ice rink, nearly a year ago and submitted the request to the council after both the Recreation Commission and the city’s commissioner of finance rejected the payment. They said the receipt lacked prior approval and the necessary two signatures for authorization.

Sherman, who was not available for comment, left the meeting before the vote after saying he felt the council was scolding him about city procedures for submitting vouchers for reimbursements. The council took him to task several months ago when it denied an unauthorized voucher he submitted for wood he purchased for the rink.

Sherman is a member of the Young Professionals Group, which built the ice rink last year at Littauer Field. Shortly after the group started the project, the city received a $10,000 grant from The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation to maintain the rink. The city has since resurrected its Recreation Commission, which consists of volunteers, to develop programming.

City Finance Commissioner Bruce VanGenderen said Wednesday the Recreation Commission’s finance committee is expected to reconsider Sherman’s invoice at a future meeting.

“If the finance group approves it, I will gladly pay it. I think it should be paid,” he said. “I think it is a tragedy this occurred.”

VanGenderen said Sherman made a mistake, and “it was clearly pointed out he made a mistake, a procedural mistake. I don’t think the person should be condemned.”

He called Sherman “a tremendous asset to the youth and people of Gloversville. He deserves some recognition, and he should be reimbursed for the sign.”

First Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth, who voted against the invoice request, said the issue is not about money but about people following proper procurement procedures. “The council’s responsible for managing the resources of the city. There is a process in place that people have to follow,” she said.

Wentworth said she does not believe the council treated Sherman unfairly and that the discussion with him was to ensure he was aware of the city’s procurement procedures.

“You have a Recreation Commission with seven equal-voting members, and you can’t have one person going out spending money and expecting to be reimbursed,” she said.

Wentworth also questioned why Sherman was submitting invoices to the city. She said he held a fundraiser for the ice rink several years ago and has yet to provide the city with an accounting of money raised and money spent.

 
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