Town Highway Superintendent Lance Winney is still battling other town officials over an incident earlier this year in which he removed trees near the public works barn to reduce the likelihood of flooding.
Winney is pressing the town to pay fees for an attorney he hired to fight charges brought against him by town Supervisor Joe DiGiacomo, for an engineer to find a solution to prevent the flooding of the barn and for a forester to put a value on the trees cut down. He recently filed a show cause order against DiGiacomo in Fulton County Court, seeking restitution.
Town Attorney John Aspland said he had not seen the paperwork and could not comment. DiGiacomo and other town officials were not available Wednesday.
Winney has submitted to the town about $4,387 in legal expenses and $1,400 in bills from the engineer and forester. He said he is entitled to restitution because he is an indemnified public official whose legal fees should have been paid by the town and he hired the engineer and the forester under a law that states he has to protect town property.
Winney hired an attorney to fight an injunction DiGiacomo filed against him in March in Fulton County Court. DiGiacomo alleged Winney exceeded his authority when he cut down the trees.
Winney, meanwhile, alleged DiGiacomo obtained approval to file the injunction through an illegal phone vote including just one Town Board member. The board later retroactively approved DiGiacomo’s actions after a Fulton County Court judge adjourned the case and told the board to settle the matter.
The board later resolved the matter and dropped the charges. The issue now is the costs incurred during the dispute.
Winney said the engineer determined a way to prevent flooding of the barn, but added he will not implement the solution until the town pays his bills. Winney said he removed the trees as a prelude to adjusting the slope of a hill that channeled water into the barn. He said the barn flooded in January when there was a rainstorm and the runoff had no place to go as the ground was frozen.
Winney said he hired the forester because DiGiacomo said the trees were valuable. The forester said the trees had a total value of $9.40, Winney said.
“After the supervisor ordered me to show cause, he put a value on the trees himself without knowing the value. He alleged they were valuable. I wanted to prove to the town and taxpayers that the trees were not worth anything,” he said.