I was appointed to the Stuyvesant Town Board as a councilperson in 1993 to fill an un-expired term and never looked back. Being involved at that level in the financial workings of the town, having the opportunity to work with the residents and focus on the future of my hometown has truly been an exhilarating experience for the past sixteen years.
I have always been fiscally conservative with town finances and have been successful in not incurring any new debt since beginning my tenure as Supervisor in 2004. Over the last six years, with the help of the other elected and appointed town officials, I have been able to avoid unnecessary spending and have kept tax increases to a minimum. This has been especially difficult during the past two years as our economy has taken a downturn and spending has increased. I have always believed that the Supervisor, as chief financial officer, needs to listen to the majority of the residents when deciding on any expenditures that may cause tax increases, and not just focus on the agenda of a few. All the residents should be heard.
In my capacity on the County Board of Supervisors I have served as chair of the Public Safety Committee for the past four years. Working with the Fire, Emergency Services, and Emergency Management Coordinators and the CC911 Director has been an exciting and great learning experience for me. I was also appointed chair of the County Board of Ethics, which was established in 2009.
I have been criticized by my opponent for the closure of the CSX Bridge on School House Road. The bridge was allowed to deteriorate and was closed by NYS DOT in 2007. CSX refuses to repair or replace the structure. I have reached out to state and federal officials and most recently met with representatives from the Attorney General’s office who agree that CSX is statutorily obligated to repair the bridge, but they are not able to initiate a lawsuit on behalf of a municipality.
The grants once available through NYS are on hold for the next few years due to the economy, and the project did not qualify for stimulus funding because it is not “shovel ready.” We are left with two choices: wait for the grants to become available and spend over $200,000.00 as our share or begin a lawsuit with a very wealthy and large corporation that could last for years and would incur legal expenses that would exceed the amount we would spend on the grant. The expense for this project should not fall on the already overburdened taxpayers in Stuyvesant. We are continuing to explore all options.
The town recently underwent a townwide update of property assessments. We are now considered to be at 100 percent valuation, which means that we are paying our true proportional amount of school taxes along with the other towns in the ICC school district and all taxpayers are receiving 100% of their STAR and other exemptions. It is beneficial to everyone to have reached this level and we are one of only three towns in Columbia County to have received the “Excellence in Assessment Award” from NYS office of Real Property Services. Maintaining this 100 percent level will be much easier now that all property inventories has been updated.
The Town Board has appointed a bipartisan committee that is reviewing and making recommendations to revise the Comprehensive Plan that was adopted in 1996. This important tool is used to protect our resources and guide the future development of our Town.
We are in the process of establishing a Community Watch Group in the Hamlet of Stuyvesant Falls, which will empower residents there concerned about vandalism and other quality of life issues.
I disagree with my opponent. Important things are getting done in Stuyvesant. The town’s finances are stable. Committee appointments are bipartisan and work well. Town government has always been accessible and accountable.
This has always been my hometown. Its future and our quality of life is as important to me as they are to everyone who lives here. I have the experience needed to be an effective Town Supervisor. If re-elected I will continue to work for all the residents of Stuyvesant and Columbia County.