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Hilltown Archives The Altamont Enterprise, September 16, 2010
Town board debates
By Zach Simeone
WESTERLO Members of the Helderberg Christian School Board are distressed because funds raised for fuel oil may have been lost when the building it leased was sold.
In May, Westerlo residents voted in favor of the town purchasing the old Westerlo School from the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District for $145,000. The building will be converted into a new town hall. HCS had leased the school since 2005.
Westerlo closed on the deal with BKW in late June, and the Westerlo Town Board gave HCS until the end of July to move out of the old Westerlo School and into St. John’s Lutheran Church in Berne.
But, when the deal was signed between HCS and BKW, it did not specify that HCS would get to keep the reported hundreds of gallons of fuel oil that are left in the tanks at the site.
“As a matter of accountability to the many past donors and supporters of HCS, the school board is compelled to note the monetary loss incurred when both [the] Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District and the town of Westerlo each refused to compensate HCS for the 600 gallons of heating oil that remained in the storage tanks at the Westerlo School building,” writes Joe Amedio, president of the Helderberg Christian School Board, in a letter to the Enterprise Editor this week.
Westerlo Councilman Jack Milner, a Helderberg Christian supporter, has said at recent town board meetings that the town owes the oil to the Christian school. Councilman Gregory Zeh has said that the town is not, nor has it been, engaged in any form of business with Helderberg Christian School. And Councilman Edward Rash has said that the town should not expend taxpayer money on something on which it owes no debt.
Those in the crowd at the meetings have spoken on both sides, some saying that the town should make a deal with HCS, as it would have to purchase the oil anyway, and others saying that, in many transfers of real estate, anything left in the purchased building becomes the property of the new owner, unless specified in the contract between the buyer and seller.