Village candidates weigh in on issues

 Michael LaChapelle2013 Village Election Questionnaire

 

Name: Michael H. LaChapelle

 

Occupation or previous professional experience:

Retired from General Electric Co. after 31 years of employment Rutland Vt.

 

List your previous political experience or community involvement.

Eighteen years on the Village Board as a Trustee.

I care for our community, and try to do what’s best for all of us.

 

Why do you want to hold this office?

To continue to help the Whitehall Community.

 

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the village of Whitehall?

Whitehall has financial problems no doubt. I think getting businesses to come to Whitehall is important.  In addition we always try to obtain grants and get the best deals on necessary purchases to benefit our financial circumstances.

 

The Department of Environmental Conservation has mandated the village bring its sewer system into compliance. It’s estimated that doing so could cost as much as $24 million. How would you address those problems without significant increases in taxes?

The Village Board and Mayor are working with possibly grants or other means possible.

 

The village of Whitehall’s tax rate is among the highest in the county. What do you think needs to be done to control taxes and what would you do to facilitate that?

We are trying to get businesses to come to Whitehall and help the businesses that are here, if possible.

 

We have a great Superintendent of Public Works and his crew.  They’re always looking and getting the best deals on necessary expenses that save the village a lot of money.  We as a board have been making the best decisions possible to keep taxes down.  Remember that we are taxpayers also.

 

What specific initiatives or goals would you hope to implement if elected?

We will do whatever we can do to improve our community.

We don’t have much, but we’re doing the best we can.

Community Residents, the Village Board, the Town Board and Businesses need to work together to make things possible.

 

What can the village board do to foster the growth of business/industry in the community? 

We need to market the many amenities that Whitehall has to offer.  We need to provide

encouragement to the present and future businesses in Whitehall.

2013 Village Election Questionnaire

 

Marge MohnName: Marjorie E. Mohn

 

Occupation or previous professional experience:

I am a village business owner, proprietor of the Times Emporium, DLM Associates.  In the past I was the Tourism Promotion Administrator for Washington County, Executive Director for the American Cancer Society, Sussex County Unit, New Jersey Division, and Program Director for the American Heart Association, New Jersey.

 

List your previous political experience or community involvement.

I am presently, Trustee for the Village of Whitehall, Commissioner of Highways, Parks and Cemetery,  Treasurer of the Arts and Recreation Commission of Whitehall, Board Member of the Whitehall Library, Volunteer Director of the Washington County Tourism Association, Founding member of the Board of Directors of the Winter Raptor Festival,

Founding Member of Skene Manor Whitehall Preservation, Inc.  Member of the Board of Directors of the Whitehall Chamber of Commerce.

 

Why do you want to hold this office?

I want to continue in this office for the continuity of the many advances that were made by this fine Board of Trustees and Peter Telisky as Mayor.  We all work together united for the village of Whitehall and it has become a pleasure to serve.  I love Whitehall because there is so much potential here and the residents are so nice and friendly.

 

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the village of Whitehall?

I would say fixing, modernizing and maintaining the aging infrastructure so we can accommodate more businesses, residents, thus lower the taxes.

 

The Department of Environmental Conservation has mandated the village bring its sewer system into compliance. It’s estimated that doing so could cost as much as $24 million. How would you address those problems without significant increases in taxes?

Joining with the Village Board and the DEC to come up with another plan, informing them that a village this size does not need a $24 million dollar sewerage system nor can the village afford it.  If that did not work we would go to Senator Little, Senator Gillibrand or Representative Gibson and see if we can get an exemption from the mandate.

 

The village of Whitehall’s tax rate is among the highest in the county. What do you think needs to be done to control taxes and what would you do to facilitate that?

We need more businesses and a larger residential tax base.  The Board of Trustees and the Mayor are already working towards this goal keeping the tax rate increase to below 2 percent and by making Whitehall a great place to live and work.  In addition, we need to work with the Chamber of Commerce headed by Dana Grant and the Town.  Both have been working towards this goal and we need to be united.

 

 

 

What specific initiatives or goals would you hope to implement if elected?

I have a number of initiatives I have been working on or plan to work on such as:

  • Investigating grants to restore the Historical Boardman Street Cemetery
  • Working with the Board of Trustees and the Mayor to make the village “business friendly”
  • Making the village bicycle friendly for tourism.
  • Continuing to beautify the Village with flowers and Seasonal Decorations.
  • In addition, purchasing more decorations for holidays that aren’t too expensive such as the snowflakes and banners.
  •  In Riverside Park, I would like to redo the small garden on the Champlain Canal wall and repair the base of the fountain.
  • Continuing working with Don Williams (over 30 years of experience) and his crew to maintain and repair roads. They are doing a great job.
  • Reducing the National Grid bill by selecting a delivery company with low rates.

 

 

What can the village board do to foster the growth of business/industry in the community? 

I think, upgrading the infrastructure, reducing taxes, personally visiting new businesses to

welcome them and provide as much information about Whitehall to help them succeed.

In addition, I think we all should encourage everyone to shop local as much as possible.

 

 

Pete TeliskyName: Peter J. Telisky

 

Position sought: Mayor – Village of Whitehall (2 year term)

 

Education: Associates Degrees in Mathematics and Mechanical Technology

Bachelors Degree in Education

 

Occupation: Current Mayor for the Village of Whitehall and per-diem teacher through BOCES   Teacher Registry

 

Past political experience:

Previously held positions include:    Trustee – Village of Whitehall

Mayor – Village of Whitehall

Supervisor – Town of Whitehall

Chairman – Washington County Board of Supervisors

 

Why do you want to hold this office?

I would like to have the opportunity to continue to work towards and facilitate change.

Over the past 2 years the Village Board has worked together in a cooperative manner allowing us to successfully address some very important, immediate, and critical issues. We are making the tough but necessary decisions in an effort to move Whitehall forward.  Our goal is to shift our community towards a new more progressive direction and we are working diligently to accomplish that goal.

 

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the Village of Whitehall?

  • A sizable task will be to find our niche in these new economic times, where main streets have been replaced by malls and localized industries have been trumped by the outsourcing of large companies. Like many other small communities, our community struggles. The risk we face is in getting complacent about our situation or giving into the notion that nothing can be done to improve things. Promoting and expanding on our history, recreation and open space, the Barge Canal System, Skene Manor, our Museum and parks all could prove to be an important component for economic change.
  • Continuation of the reconstruction and restructuring of infrastructure. While we have made major gains in both our water and wastewater systems, as evidenced by savings realized this year in areas such as electric and chemical usage, we must continue to make changes to these systems that will have long-term cost effective results.
  • Infrastructure revitalization is also an important component to developing a plan to attract business and industry. The ability to provide water, sewer, and proximity to adequate transportation hubs are paramount to development (at present wastewater capacity is limited – a situation we are working to correct).
  • Continuing to design a realistic cost-conscious long term plan for the resurfacing of our roads and replacement of sidewalks.

 

What can the Village Board do to foster the growth of business / industry in the community?

I am committed to the notion that if we want growth, if we want more stores, if we want more businesses and jobs to come, we need to pull together and continue to get busy revitalizing our community. Let’s coordinate our efforts to bring about economic change that is realistic, supportable, and sustainable.

  • We need to assess, in an impartial manner, what the community’s development strengths and weaknesses are (what might assist us in our quest for growth and what about our community might hinder our ability to grow – our economic strengths and weaknesses.
  • Seek help – both inside and from outside our community. Bring together the stakeholders and find a direction (citizens, organizations, and governmental agencies).
  • Continue to fix our streets, water system, sewer system, and redouble our efforts in dealing with quality of life issues in our community such as abandoned and deteriorated buildings (a difficult legal task at best). First impressions are important and I believe by working to restore and revitalize our community we will find that businesses, industries, and families will take notice of this positive change.
  • Recognize owners and tenants who strive to maintain and improve their properties and encourage others to do the same.

 

 

The Department of Environmental Conservation has mandated the Village bring its sewer system into compliance. It’s estimated that doing so could cost as much as $24 million. How would you address those problems without significant increases in taxes?

We are already addressing that very problem. We have, over the past several years developed a very good working relationship with DEC. They along with many other governmental regulatory agencies are aware of the Village’s fragile financial condition. While there is an urgency to bring the Village into compliance all parties involved understand that the Village simply is incapable of being able to fund or even borrow for such a substantial project.

Over the past two years there have been many meetings with numerous governmental agencies as well as elected officials all working together to come up with a solution. Currently we have in place the beginning of a multi-stage plan that will, over the long term, bring the Village into compliance. The community survey that has been discussed in the Whitehall Times, and that is about to start, is a vital part of that very plan. We are aggressively seeking financial assistance, in the form of grants, to acquire the necessary dollars to proceed. If we are successful, which we expect to be, we anticipate over the next two years beginning phase one of a multiyear plan of reconstruction.

 

The Village of Whitehall’s tax rate is among the higher in the county. What do you think needs to be done to control taxes and what would you do to facilitate that?

Enlist stringent budgetary practices. Last year the Village Board developed a budget that kept the tax increase under the 2 percent tax cap (even with rising costs), our goal is to do the same this year. We did this by giving priority to projects that would decrease overall cost of operations, a practice that will continue. We also implemented a recycling and recovery project that turned piled and abandoned metals and pipe into operating cash, which was then used to fund projects that bring about even further savings, this program will continue this year as well. We also looked at staffing and chose not to fill one retired employee’s position. Instead we invested in equipment that would make us more efficient in performing our tasks (that practice will continue). In addition the Village’s office staff as well as the DPW Superintendent Don Williams and his crew work diligently to hold down the costs of daily operations.

The long term goal is to expand our tax base through sensible development. Part of the preparation to meet that goal is occurring right now. As we improve our capability to provide services, such as water and sewer, in an adequate and cost effective manner we better position ourselves to promote our community.

 

 

What specific initiatives or goals would you hope to implement if elected?

 

My goals remain the same:

 

Follow the current initiative of bringing the Town Office, Village Office, Village Police, and Village and Town Courts together in one more efficient building and continue to move towards even more cooperative services with the Town.

 

Further develop a prioritized plan for improvements to roads and sidewalks as well as the water and sewer delivery systems.

 

Bring together community stake holders and develop a Community Action Plan.

 

Continue to work towards putting into place policies that will promote health and safety as well as protect neighborhoods from nuisances, deterioration, and decline (a difficult legal task and often costly venture but necessary to curb decline).

 

Put together a realistic Economic Development Plan. This plan should address the needs of our current business as well as devising a method of attracting new business and industry based on a realistic needs assessment (what our community needs most – deciding whether we can support it or not – providing a shovel ready location for growth).

 

The overall objective has and continues to be to improve the quality of life, stabilize and ultimately increase property values, expand the tax base through desirable growth, and ultimately reduce our current oppressive village tax burden.

 

 

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