New Paltz Town supervisor-elect Susan Zimet knows that she has her work cut out for her when she takes the helm on Jan. 1. One thing that makes it easier is that she has done the job before, having served as the town supervisor for two terms 15 years ago before becoming a county legislator (D-New Paltz) for ten years.
The first order of business was to appoint someone to be her confidential secretary: a post that was held for the past six years by Guy Visk, who was appointed by former supervisor Toni Hokanson. Instead of sticking with Visk, Zimet decided to hire longtime friend Carol Connolly.
“Carol’s daughter and mine met in kindergarten and have been friends since. Over those years Carol and I have worked together on many projects,” said Zimet. “She is very focused, community minded, extremely bright and friendly. She will be a warm and friendly face for the public, and will be a great resource in helping to assure the public’s needs are being met.”
As for hitting the ground running, Zimet said that she has met with all of the Town Board members, both incoming and those who already serve on the board, both individually and in groups. “We have discussed the status of laws, projects, the budget, town finances, personnel and our goals. One thing that is for sure is we have our work cut out for us!”
Zimet said that each Board member has goals that he or she wants to see accomplished and has been working on them. “Jean [Gallucci] and Kevin [Barry] have been actively working to bring ideas and expertise to the board, and Kitty [Brown] and Jeff [Logan] are eager to work together with a board to get things done. I think the board will make the community proud.”
The first thing that Zimet believes the newly constituted board needs to tackle is “the budget! I am very concerned about how the budget was prepared, the revenues projected and the expenses that we are committed to. I am very concerned about the tax cap and how the process was handled. There is paperwork that needed to be filed with the state showing the calculations to deliver the tax cap.”
Zimet said that she fears that if the calculations and the paperwork were “not done correctly, the town is obligated to certain financial bookkeeping that can put great pressure on the delivery of services to the town. Annual reports have not been delivered on time to the state, and the comptroller’s audit is taking an awfully long time to be sent back to the town.”
She wants to know where the town is with its upcoming budget, as well as “getting a handle on previous spending. We need to get our financial house in order, and we will do whatever it takes,” she claimed.
The supervisor-elect said that there are several other outstanding pieces of business that she and her board need to finish. “We have a Comprehensive Plan that needs to be finalized. However, it is time to stop working in a vacuum. To deliver a Comprehensive Plan for just the town and not look at the needs/plans of the village, school district and college is unproductive in this economy.” She said that her immediate goal, outside of the budget, is to “reach out to other governing bodies and start to collaborate on how to meet the needs of the community in the most cost-effective way possible.”
In that same vein, she again turned the spotlight on the town’s light industrial corridor along South Putt Corners Road. “There are many projects from economic development, transportation, water and sewer that are in the works, but everyone is working on parallel paths and not with a unified vision. I hope to convene a meeting early on to get everyone on the same page working together.”
She said that village trustee Sally Rhoads has been “terrific in reaching out to me about the town/village needs and how best to deliver them.” That said, it’s Zimet’s hope that “the entire Village Board will be welcoming to the new administration and be as committed as I am toward working together as elected officials serving our community.”
Zimet is convinced that the newly constituted Town Board is made up of “five talented people that care passionately about the community. Everyone is very conscious of the burden on the taxpayers of this community, and is committed to doing whatever it takes to make this community affordable for us to continue to live here.”
The supervisor-elect invites “everyone to join us on Jan. 1 at 12 p.m. at the New Paltz Community Center for the swearing-in of the new administration, and look forward to having the community help shape a better future for all of us.”