Mayor-elect Brian LaRose took a break from a Sunday afternoon of doing paperwork and sat down for a chat with the Sentinel between phone calls, answering e-mails and reading through a stack of weekly paperwork.
What are you doing right now as mayor-elect? What are you looking at going forward?
“Well what I’m doing right now is just kind of acclimating myself to the whole situation. I have been very fortunate to be a board member for six years so a lot of the stuff that’s going on I do have some idea of all the principles and all of the components that are going on. I think as far as setting goals going forward, the economy is kind of telling us what we need to do. Number one, we need to look at cost of services. I think it’s an obligation and a duty of the mayor and of the village board to look at the best way to use their money without cutting services and maintaining that quality of life that I talked about before I was elected. I think that’s going to be our main goal and that’s going to be difficult in some cases.
We have to look at all aspects, we have to look at insurance, we have to look at retirement and look at cost of products, like salt, things that we’re going to need for our water treatment plant and our sewage plant – all of those kind of things I think we have to look at and have to very conscious and cognizant of the fact that these costs are not going to go down.
I think that’s probably going to be the biggest challenge of this board and this mayor to do that in the most efficient way and also the most economic way.
Continue to deliver services but at the same time watch costs?
Right, so that’s what I see as the biggest challenge but going forward Mayor Niles did an excellent job in starting a lot of projects here in the village be it the Rails to Trails, we have things we’re going to be finishing on that mostly to do with signage and fixing up the bed and those kinds of things for the trail itself. (Jay) was also instrumental in our riverfront revitalization strategies – a lot of things going on there that we’re going to continue to grow and nurture.
I’m trying to get a lot of community groups involved in that aspect too; beatification programs, planting trees and plants and things like that that’s just going to highlight what’s going on down there and I think the community would love to get involved in something like that – Lions, Rotary, Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts – groups like that to get on board with things like that.
One of the things I’m most excited about is the new sidewalk project. We’re starting to proceed and progress there. The survey’s been completed everything looks good to go and there is a timeline. I’m going to be meeting with Dan Williams some time in the next week or two and we’re going to set a timeline up as far as when we’re actually going to start seeing things happen. It could be as soon as August this year; you’re going to start seeing some of the grading work being done. We’re going to be working with NYSEG – our plans are to install some lighting down in that area just before you get into the Price Chopper turn in to Rite Aid. I’m also excited about the conversations I’ve had with Matt Hicks, I’m very excited about working with him going forward, he’s excited about it and I think it’s really interesting because we’re both from this community; we both grew up here, we went to school here and graduated from here and we’re raising families here. There’s the bond between us in that respect in that we both want to make sure we do the best we can to make this a better community.
I think another thing I’ve got to give Mayor Niles credit for is he started language and a communication with the town that we may not necessarily have had to the extent that we have now with the two boards working together.
I see the Granville Partnership for Economic Development proceeding and I think with all of these things coming together I think it’s going to do good things for the village and the town of Granville. That’s my hope.”
What are some of the things you’re hoping to do with technology to improve the way the village works?
“You know I think it’s important to all of us that we think about Green technology. Where I work at Orvis, we’re very concerned about the environment. We work through Trout Unlimited which is also very active here in the Mettowee River and along those things so I thing conservation and being conservative as far as our wastes is important so yeah some of the thing we’re thinking about is reducing paper. Possibly going to more of a paperless system using PowerPoint projectors and things along those lines in the room. Denise (Davies, assistant clerk) and Rick (Roberts, village clerk) have done and extraordinarily good job minimizing the office supplies and the paper that use and all those kinds of things so I think it’s our duty to look at the best ways we can conserve our natural resources and our resources that we use here in the village here at the officer –that is our goal.
You mentioned using an overhead projector to show certain memos?
Yeah, when it’s something as simple as the monthly agenda, rather than filing out 15 different copies maybe it’s something we can do on a projector system and have it up there. A lot of times we’ll have our engineers come in or we’ll have presentations different from organizations like Elan doing some of our planning work and it’s just a lot easier to have that available and have that ability to project that up, rather than have copies and copies and copies and that kind of thing. That is a goal of mine; that’s something we’ve got to pass through the board and things that we’ve got to work into our budgeting process and whatnot, but I think it will be beneficial in the long run it would save us some money.
We’re going to look at our utilities. Again – Mayor Niles and Rick have done and excellent job of looking at that but I think we always need to go back and revisit that. You know, with the new streetlight project we’ve already seen a big reduction in cost to run the streetlights. The old ‘cobra’ lights that you see around the village now work well but they’re old, so their energy consumption is a lot more than what the new ones are. So we’re going to look at that policy, we already have a procurement policy for our fuel oil and things along that line so those things will continue to be used along with any other thing that we can come up with that’s going to save the community some money.
Again, I have an excellent team and I refer to them as a team because we are all going to be working together be it the police department, the DPW, the department heads…I’m very fortunate to be able to come into a situation where I have some knowledge of their abilities and commitment to the community and with that arsenal behind me I think that things are going to happen.”
Going back to where we started a bit, how big an advantage is it to have been a board member for a while (six years) and have been immersed in this versus somebody who is mayor from the start with no previous experience?
“I’d have to say, probably within the last three or four terms, I would have to say very important. I think the complexities of government have changed and I think the expectations of the community have changed and I think that has a lot to do with the previous mayors and boards that we’ve had. They’ve been very progressive, they did not take a wait and see attitude and they were very pragmatic as far as their approach to things. Laws have gotten a lot more stringent on how municipalities can work and how they’re supposed to work and how we spend our money and how we add transparency to what we’re doing which in this administration is going to be huge. Transparency is going to be my number one goal. We don’t want the public to think there’s anything going on that’s not on the up-and-up so transparency’s going to be very important.
But, that being said – I think it’s gotten more difficult and more complicated and I think the skill levels have just grown considerably here in this office from what they’re aware of from the village clerk or the DPW and all of the departments included have done an excellent job keeping to the times. We’re very proactive in terms of sending our associates to seminars to better their training from something as simple as clerical things to something as complex as running a water treatment plant. Things are always changing, ENCONs adding different things to control (outflow) and different regulations that we have to abide by as far as environmental issues…so yeah, to make a long story short, I think it has gotten more complicated but then again I think it’s all for the good because I think that in order to move forward you have to make sure that you’re setting a really good foundation and the best way to do that is with education (serving on a board).
On the job training?
“Serving, learning, watching. I spend a lot of time listening, I honestly do. I think you can learn a lot more from just sometimes taking just a couple of steps back and just listening to what everyone else has to say and once you’ve got all that information is makes it a lot easier to kind of sort it out and come to a logical and best solution.”
“I hope that give people a sense of who I am and what we –you’re going to hear me say that a lot because it takes a team to make this possible – I see my role as being more of a facilitator and channeling all of the excellent abilities that I have here at my disposal and just aping into that and making things happen. And I’m not just saying that because I’m the mayor of this village but because I truly have one heck of a bunch of people working with me to run this village,” LaRose said.