Village Attorney Arthur A. Herdzik said Monday evening that Mayor Arthur K. Posluszny lacked authority to mount controversial displays in the Lancaster Municipal Building, but the mayor declined to accept the opinion.
The displays in two locked glass cabinets contain two letters published by a weekly newspaper, one written by Trustee Darlene L. Humphrey and labeled "The Lie;" the other written by Posluszny and labeled "The Facts."
Herdzik based his opinion on a provision of the state constitution prohibiting use of municipal property by an "association, individual or private undertaking," and a provision of state law assigning management of village property to the Board of Trustees.
Posluszny said many lawyers would disagree with Herdzik's opinion, and "I'm not inclined to accept it."
"I will not stand by idly and watch you slander and lie," the mayor told Mrs. Humphrey.
"This material is not private or personal. It relates to public business," he added.
The posted letter written by Mrs. Humphrey says that she opposed spending she considered extravagant for furnishing the mayor's office. The expenses were incurred before Posluszny was elected mayor March 21.
Posluszny's letter contests her statements. The displays also contain a copy of a voucher, labeled "the Proof!" The voucher, with Mrs. Humphrey's signature, is for furnishing the clerk-treasurer's office.
Mrs. Humphrey's Citizens Pride Party and Posluszny's Independent Party are involved in a special election June 6 to elect a Third Ward trustee. The election will determine control of the Village Board.
Since the March 21 election the board has been split with three members of the Independent Party, two members of Citizens Pride, and one People's Party trustee. The Citizens Pride and People's parties have informal ties.
Herdzik also cited a state controller's opinion involving a vehicle owned by another village. The opinion said village property is under the exclusive control of the Board of Trustees.
Posluszny said, "I don't think Mr. Herdzik is objective in this matter," citing "political motivation."
Before hearing Herdzik's opinion, the mayor said Mrs. Humphrey had no authorization to request it, but when the board voted on whether to hear it, Posluszny declared there were four ayes to permit it. Mrs. Humphrey called the posting of the displays "a gross abuse of position" by the mayor, and a "misuse of village property for personal political purposes." But she said anyone who reads it can see that the voucher she signed does not in volve furnishings for the mayor's office.
The board voted to authorize borrowing up to $250,000 to buy a rescue fire truck sought by the Fire Department. The order will be placed after 30 days for a permissive referendum petition.
The board also authorized paying $42,000 for a change order for the $1.3 million Municipal Building renovation project, the funds to come from grant receipts for hazardous material abatement.
A second change order for $37,000 is still being reviewed by the Finance Committee. Trustee W. James Kostecky, committee chairman, said about $30,000 of this amount is for interior modifications primarily esthetic in nature.
The board voted to make a $60,000 loan from the sewer fund to the water fund for $40,942 due the Erie County Water Authority and the balance due for bond payments.
The board also:
Authorized payment of $1,093 to be spread over six months for accumulated sick leave for Lt. James F. Sugg, $872 for Officer Charles Roessler, and $795 for Detective Sergeant Jerome L. Szuminski after Herdzik said the village's police contract provides for them. Police officers can state an intention to retire, collect the payments, and change their minds about retiring, he said.
"This is one of the sticky points in the contract," Kostecky said. The contract is expired and negotiations are at impasse. "It's up to the police to request an arbitration," he said.
Was informed that $31,000 is available for repair and construction of sidewalks for low-and moderate income residents.