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Maltaville water development up in the air

Maltaville water development up in the air

Councilman Tim Dunn recused himself from discussion after incident with Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership president
Maltaville water development up in the air
Town of Malta sign

MALTA — The Town Board is mulling proposals from two companies seeking to establish a water district in Maltaville, where many residents rely on wells that yield poor-quality groundwater. 

At Monday's business meeting, the board discussed seeking outside counsel to advise on a proposal from Saratoga Water Services Inc., which provides drinking water to residents in portions of the towns of Malta and Stillwater.

Executive Vice President Marissa Mackay said -- at a Town Board meeting on May 21 -- that the company had researched and prepared an analysis that could save Maltaville residents an estimated 40 percent on water costs. .

In February of 2014, Stewart’s Shops offered to spend $200,000 to build a new water line in return for town permission to construct one of its convenience stores on Route 67 at the entrance to the Luther Forest Technology Campus.

Saratoga Water Services is seeking assistance from the Saratoga Prosperity Partnership, which would help facilitate a funding agreement with the Town of Malta, to support its proposal. The Prosperity Partnership is the county's designated economic development agency. 

The company's assistance request prompted town Councilman Tim Dunn to recuse himself from the discussion about whether to seek outside legal counsel. In explanation, Dunn cited a disagreement he had last month with Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership President Marty Vanags.

Dunn said on June 12 he met with Vanags at the partnership's offices in Malta. Dunn was acting in his role as president of Dunn Strategy Group, a marketing and communications consulting firm, at the time of the meeting. 

Dunn said Vanags told him that, as a town official, Dunn should be making certain business decisions to help the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. 

"I told him that was wildly inappropriate to expect," Dunn said. "As the meeting went on, he said that he supported my campaign for councilman and made a contribution, so he expects a certain amount of loyalty."

Vanags would not comment on the discussion when reached by phone Monday night. 

On June 14, Dunn said he refunded Vanags' $50 campaign contribution and sent Vanags an email, which Dunn provided to reporters after Monday's meeting.

"During that meeting, you stated that I should take certain actions or avoid certain actions as a Town Board member and chair of the Economic Development Committee in Malta, as it pertains to my business dealings," Dunn's email to Vanags stated. "I adamantly objected to that suggestion, indicating I draw a bright line between my business and public roles, an objection to which you responded, 'oh, come on!'" 

Dunn said he recommended that Vanags receive training in ethics and public officers law. 

"What he was suggesting was inappropriate and illegal," Dunn said of Vanags. "The Town Ethics Committee said my actions were appropriate and that there would be no further investigation."

Dunn's email response was copied to Malta Town Supervisor Vince DeLucia, Malta Ethics Committee Chair Gary Jones, Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chair Ed Kinowski, Saratoga County Administrator Spencer Hellwig and Kevin Tollisen, chair of the Saratoga County Law and Finance Committee. 

Vanags emailed Dunn a response, also provided to reporters Monday by Dunn, which stated, "It is unfortunate that you misunderstood my comments about 'loyalty' at our meeting on June 12. When I personally contributed to your campaign, it had nothing to do with my position with the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership or your potential role as a Town Council member. 

"Just as you indicate in your letter, I maintain a 'bright line' between my personal political donations and my professional position."

Dunn said he would likely recuse himself in the future from town matters that involve the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership.

"Even though I chair the town's Economic Development Committee, the town has no say about what's going on at the county level," he said. "But it would be a good idea."

DeLucia said he would be contacting Saratoga Water Services Inc. and the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership regarding the water district proposal later this week. 

"They were questioning whether their full board would even support this notion," DeLucia told meeting attendees about Saratoga Water Services seeking aid from the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. 

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