What is your occupation?
For the past four years my job has been village board trustee and wastewater treatment commissioner. Daily, when the employees assigned to that department report for work; I make it point to be there. Normally I spend anywhere from 4 to 8 hours each day conducting village business.
Past political experience or community involvement?
Prior to election to the board I attended nearly all village, town and school board meetings and volunteered my time and vehicle to the Retired and Senior Citizens Volunteer Program transporting these citizens without access to transportation to doctor appointments in Glens Falls and Rutland; this is now restricted to only residents in my apartment building as my free time is limited.
Why do you want to hold this office?
I have four years experience and have educated myself about government procedures and wastewater treatment. This knowledge has enabled me to identify things in both areas that need tweaking or changed. I bring these items to the board and explain the advantages of implementing my suggestions. Several passed by the board have resulted in the saving of hundreds of thousands of dollars to date and will continue yearly in the future. I would like to continue doing things like this to the betterment of the village.
What qualities do you possess that would make you an ideal candidate for this position?
Everything mentioned above plus my ability to work with the rest of the village board to accomplish good for the community. Three of the last four years I have been the only Republican on the board. I have worked effectively with three different mayors and ran against present Mayor Peter Telisky. His priorities are different than mine but are still aimed at improving this community. I am doing my best to help him achieve that goal. If there is a disagreement, we have been able have frank discussions with no hard feelings after.
Also my accessibility to the community is rare among elected officials. I have only one phone number (499-9239) it rings both my cell and home.
Anyone who has a question, concern or problem related to the village may call it at any time night or day I will answer and do my best to get results or answers quickly.
What are the biggest issues facing the Village of Whitehall?
The biggest issue is the order by NYSDEC to completely replace/upgrade our wastewater system. In today’s dollars, the estimate is $27 million. The village cannot afford that. All three mayors, our lawyers and I have worked hard to improve communications with DEC and help them understand our situation. Our efforts have been fairly successful. Even so the modified “Phase One” is $5 million. The village cannot afford that. We are actively seeking and applying for any and all grants available and are open to any suggestions for any opportunity that might have been overlooked.
How would you address some of the infrastructure (sewer system and Williams Street Canal wall) issues facing the Village?
The sewer system was addressed in the previous question. As for the Williams Street Canal Wall the only option right now is to seek grants for its replacement. This village cannot afford to replace the wall without the help of the state or federal government. Our tax burden here is near the max.
What specific recommendations/changes would you try to implement if elected?
I am always looking for ways to save money. The most recent, involves the wastewater treatment plant by-product called “sludge”. A specialized carrier is hired to haul it to a state approved dump site. Currently this costs about $18,000 a year. There are new qualified companies who will actually pay plants for their sludge. I am now in the process of finding these companies to solicit bids. I expect this effort to be successful. Thus the village will turn an $18,000 expense into an income helping to keep taxes down, now and into the future.
Another example of this type of thinking is the NYS Department of Health mandated the village construct drying beds at the water plant located in Dresden costing over $400,000. My suggestion to purchase a used vacuum truck for $61,000 and transport the sludge to our drying beds located here in the village was accepted by DOH. So in spending $61,000 the village saved
the initial construction cost, avoided higher property and school taxes in Dresden and by owning the truck eliminated the $15,000 a year expense to hire a truck to clean the wastewater plant. That is definitely a win-win.
The wastewater treatment plant and the sanitary sewer system’s electrical use is currently about $95,000 per year. The mayor and I are working with engineers and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to make improvements that will lower our demand by using the latest technology to update our 30+ year old system.
It has been suggested the Village and Town may at some point share a building that would house both municipalities. What is your opinion of consolidation of Village and Town resources?
It appears that the town is going to accept the SVFD building the village has offered. When this happens I believe both village and town courts will move into the building ASAP. I would think the police department would not be far behind. These two steps would be a great improvement. I would be open to the rest of the village offices moving if the village were to sell their current building for a proper price. We all can see that utilities costs are just going to keep increasing. Sharing these expenses only makes sense. Also it would be more convenient for citizens to conduct local government business in one location. The town and village have already signed an agreement and both highway departments often work together in either the town or village. To my eye they work well together.