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Taxpayers group sues village over meeting fee

The Sloan Taxpayers Association on Tuesday sued the Village of Sloan for making it the only organization required to pay $150 each time it wants to hold meetings in the village-owned Piekraski Community Center.

The State Supreme Court suit by the 5-year-old taxpayer group, which is headed by unsuccessful Sloan mayoral candidate Joseph J. Farris, seeks to void the Village Board's Nov. 8 vote that made it the only group required to pay the fee. It also seeks monetary damages.

David G. Jay, who has been retained by the 30-member taxpayer group, said it has not used the community center since that vote and seeks a permanent injunction allowing it to resume meetings at the center "without fee."

Village Attorney Margaret A. Murphy could not be reached to comment.

Jay said the village dedicated the community center for use by all community organizations for meetings and events without a fee and has opted to force only the Farris-led association to pay.

Jay denounced the fee as a scheme "to punish the Sloan Taxpayers Association" because some trustees, whom he refused to name, wanted to "settle a political debt" with Farris and his association.

Farris, 43, lost to Sloan Mayor Leonard Szymanski in last year's election.

Jay said the taxpayers association had been meeting the third Wednesday of every month in the community center but moved to St. Andrew's School Hall at Crocker and Reiman streets immediately after the November vote.

The center is still used cost-free by a number of organizations, including the Sloan Home Bureau, the Sloan Social Club, the Sloan Moonglowers, Boy Scout Troop 6, the village Arts Council and the Cheektowaga Crabapple Girl Scouts, Jay said.

"Singling out the taxpayers association for this special treatment is political discrimination and violates the First Amendment rights of the association and its members under the United States Constitution," Jay said.


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