Madison County: Winds of Discontent

Supervisors say chairman conducted backdoor negotiations

Members of the Madison County Board of Supervisors are up in arms over what they say amounted to covert efforts by Chairman Rocco J. DiVeronica and others to grab a piece of the pie in a windmill project underway in the towns of Stockbridge, Madison, Eaton and neighboring Oneida County's town of Augusta.

Supervisors Alex Stepanski (Stockbridge), George Turner (Madison) and David Puddington (Eaton) learned last week that attorneys purportedly representing Madison County had entered the towns' and school districts' negotiations for payments in lieu of taxes from wind farm developer Citizens Airtricity Energy LLC. Word rapidly spread among supervisors, many of whom showed up unexpected and uninvited for PILOT negotiations Feb. 1 at the county office building.

Now, some supervisors think DiVeronica should step down as chairman.

"Rocky has been working with [administrative assistant] Russ Lura and [County Attorney John Campanie] to usurp the authority of the board," said Smithfield Supervisor Richard Bargabos. "They have gone behind our backs to insert themselves in these negotiations. This is unacceptable behavior from our chairman."

But DiVeronica said he didn't know Campanie or Lura had done anything to join negotiations until he returned from the state Association of Counties conference Feb. 1.

Bargabos said he heard DiVeronica tell Lura to tell Hage if he did not get what he wanted for the county, he would work to kill the project.

County enters negotiations

DiVeronica said he is upset with fellow supervisors who are thinking only of their towns.

"They are county supervisors, too," DiVeronica said. "They're getting money from the windmills and they think the county is asking for more money from the developers. We're not. The developer won't have to pay anything extra. Our share is going to come from the towns and schools."

DiVeronica said the windmills are a burden on taxpayers through the work performed by the county through its planning department and demands on the infrastructure.

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