HERKIMER — The Herkimer village board has approved a revised retainer agreement with a Syracuse law firm for one of several cases the firm is handling for the village.
Under the agreement, Longstreet & Berry, LLP, would be paid 25 percent of the net proceeds if the village wins its case regarding unpaid water bills from the Quackenbush property.
A trial on the matter is scheduled for Oct. 24 before State Supreme Court Justice Erin Gall, according to attorney Michael Longstreet.
A ruling early this year stated the village could not sue Herkimer County for the unpaid water bills, but could seek the funds from the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency.
Longstreet was on hand at Tuesday’s village board meeting to update the board on this and other cases on which he is representing the village.
The village board accepted a check for $511,508.99 from Herkimer County for the village’s overpayment for the Herkimer County Self-Insurance Plan, but Longstreet said he has filed a notice of appeal for some $558,000 he says the village is still owed. The amount is increasing all the time as interest is added, he said.
"The village has nothing to lose and a lot to gain," he told the board.
Longstreet noted the village board had also asked him to look into how much sales tax the village is receiving.
"I’m just scratching the surface," he said. "I’ve sent a request for data from the county."
Longstreet questioned how the funds are distributed, saying the towns of Webb and Schuyler receive more than the village of Herkimer despite having smaller populations.
The question about sales tax distribution came up when a local resident pointed out the 2012 agreement Herkimer County had approved with the city of Little Falls regarding sales tax distribution was not being followed.
Past agreements between the city and Herkimer County stated the county would keep $1 million of the sales tax revenues, with the city of Little Falls, as the county’s only city, receiving 50 percent of the remainder and the towns and villages receiving a third. The 2012 agreement stated the towns and villages would receive half, instead of a third. County officials said an error was made and the county Legislature and Little Falls Common Council approved an amended agreement.
Longstreet said he did not see how the county could waive the earlier resolution as a mistake. He noted Trustee Fred Weisser had contacted the state Comptroller’s Office to request an audit and suggested other residents also request an audit.
"I hope the comptroller’s office will take charge of this," he said.
Longstreet said he had filed a record and brief early in July for the case regarding placement of a new Herkimer County jail on the former P&C site on state Route 28. The county filed its documents as well. He expects the case to be argued in January or February of next year and a decision to be handed down about six weeks later.
Justice Gall ruled in a Jan. 27 decision that Herkimer County is immune from village zoning restrictions that would prohibit the construction of a jail. The county argued that it had looked at a number of sites around the area, but found them unsuitable, many due to lack of water and sewer service. County officials said the cost of boarding out prisoners had risen to more than $1.6 million per year as of 2015 and that did not include the cost of transporting prisoners and paying for services for them at outside facilities.