The two candidates for town supervisor in Lloyd tell you all you need to know about who they are and what they stand for

Paul Hansut and Claire Winslow.

Paul Hansut and Claire Winslow.

Claire Winslow

Why did you decide to run for office?

Because I really care about Highland and the residents. I started attending some of the meetings downtown, at the request of one of my friends who said, “I think you should go.”

Also, the land was sold around me, and I said to my business partner, “I think it’s time we start paying attention to everything in Highland, so we know what’s going on,” especially since we are vested here because we have such a beautiful property here. My business partner said to me, “One of us really should start going to the meetings, because of what they did to Toc Drive, they put these huge buildings there.”

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I was kind of clueless, to be perfectly honest. When I started to research it, and read the article in the New Paltz Times, and then I was asking, how can they do that, put those buildings up and ruin that woman’s lifestyle? I went to my first meeting and stood quiet because I want to learn; when it comes to the town stuff I wasn’t sure.

After that meeting one of the board members came up to me and said he wanted to talk to me. This was someone I have know pretty much my whole life, since going to school in Highland. He asked why I was there, and I said that I was trying to get an idea of what was going on. I said to him, “I don’t understand this whole thing with Toc Drive, what were you guys thinking?”

He said to me, “You don’t think it’s beautiful?”

I said no, and then asked him, “Why are you guys focusing on all these outer things, what about downtown?” That’s where we need to pull things together. I know from realtors — my business partner is a realtor — they have a hard time selling in this town, because once people see what’s in this town, there’s nothing there, it’s not like a Rhinebeck or a Beacon or a Hudson, it’s not upcoming, it’s just stagnant. I said to him, “What about downtown?”

He said, “Well, who’s ever going to build downtown?” I thought to myself, “You are representing us …. Why? Maybe you’re here too long, and it’s time for a change for you. But you’re missing the point.” People want to see a community. The rail-trail makes us a community as well, that’s all good stuff. Let’s embellish the downtown so the rail trail becomes a bigger entity in the development. He also said, “These are the best boards that Highland has ever seen.” That really just sat wrong with me.

The second meeting, it got heated over Toc Drive, and he said, “I just want to go on record that these are the best boards that Highland has ever seen.” Well, I stood up. I was so mad because how do you disrespect all the people that have been in this area all these years, the family you have grown up with, and have the nerve to come out with a comment that these are the best boards. Does that mean that all the boards prior that have built this small, amazing community were terrible? What do you mean here? And then I thought, after what you did?

And then I spoke. I felt that they were not working for the residents, they were working for big business or to develop the outside of the town, and some of them have stakes in it, so it’s a total conflict of interest. What really bothered me was Ruth [Dapp, whose house is adjacent to the Toc Drive development called Trail View] and all those people that have houses that can no longer use their back yards, who are they going to sell their property to, and that’s the question I raised. “You ruined their property values, so how can you say that you guys are the best and how can you say you really care about the residents, because you don’t.”

“Well that’s not true,” Mike Horodyski said, “We don’t sit here and try to ruin people.” I said, “But you did.” How do you tell these people that don’t have a lot of money? What are they supposed to sell their property for now? What do we do now? How are you supposed to rectify what you’ve done?

They didn’t have an answer. But it went further. I heard that they were boycotting here, they got really mad and said, “We’re not going to the Would.” I heard that things were said and it just made me annoyed. I saw that they kept going after Ruth, and now they want more property, and they asked Ruth if they could take four feet of length on their back, because when they built it I guess they didn’t figure that they didn’t have a good trail access,

I’m not sure, but that’s the way I see it. Because why are you bothering her? You’ve already insulted her and you’ve already hurt her, you’ve told her to be quiet in meetings, the lack of respect bothered me. And now you’re hounding her, including our town supervisor who was trying to negotiate, and I thought, you’re still not getting it, after I stood up in a meeting, you guys don’t get it. You’re still adding insult to injury for these poor people that have suffered because of these big buildings.

They’ve changed the zoning to fit their need, whether they recuse themselves or not, if you bring it to an attorney — because I’ve talked to many — they say it’s ridiculous, and as well you should be up in arms with this town. There’s no way that a builder or developer should sit on your boards if they benefit. I asked somebody who’s involved with the ethics committee and she told me the only time anyone could file a complaint, they would have to work for the town, which I’m not even sure if that’s valid. It seems odd to me that in all the town boards that no one’s questioned this.

Then the Republicans had their caucus and a comment was made by a different board member, who said that now we can run and hopefully get all of the seats on the board. I find that offensive in the way that it shouldn’t be all one side. It shouldn’t be all Democrat or Republican. It should be equally distributed because then there comes question as to building or zoning or things of that nature, and that’s how you get to have fairness, and I’m all about fairness.

What skills, experiences or qualifications do you have that make you believe you would make a competent supervisor?

I’ve had three successful businesses: the Would, a food styling business, and as a landlord. I work for people like Montel Williams, Joan Rivers, Hulk Hogan, a lot of different celebrities. I’ve done volunteer work through Montel for the Fisher House for wounded warriors. That has enlightened me a lot as far as humility because when you see things like that, it’s different when you see things in war on TV but when you’re actually there at the hospitals and you actually see the devastation it humbles you, and it makes you really proud of the people who have served.

I’m reading, I’m trying to get as much knowledge as possible to see how things have gone on Toc Drive, Mountainside Woods, Wine Village, I’m looking into all of that. I’ve been to water department meetings because I’m trying to get a handle on Morris and Associates and some of the things they are asking Highland to do and to change, I want to be well-versed in that.

As far as Paul [Hansut]’s day-to-day job, no clue, but [I’m] not afraid because I’m the kind of person that doesn’t sleep. I’m constantly on the move to do something, and I’m not afraid to learn and to figure out and to bring fairness to this town, And to listen to the residents. And to make smart choices for all of us. If that town was flourishing, then everybody’s property would be worth something more than what it is now, or it would bring money and tax money into this town.

I see these outside developments, and you have to figure schooling. When these big developments come in, we’re looking at more teachers, we’re looking at bigger schools. Who’s paying for all of this? How is this affecting us on our tax base? It’s not going to decrease our taxes. It’s not going to level our taxes. It’s going to increase our taxes. I understand how much it is to put a kid through school.

Now you take a building, for example, if somebody pays $50,000 for school taxes and they have 36 two-bedroom apartments on their property, how many kids do you actually think are going to go through the school system? If the average is $20,000 per kid for the school, then we kind of have a problem. Even if some homes don’t have kids, if the kids are enough that the kids need more money for teachers and construction to open up these schools, we have a problem here.

With Wine Village, whether it’s 150 or 800 units, how many kids are going to be there? Are there going to be kids? I’m not saying that educating kids is the worst thing in the world — I think it’s an awesome thing, and I think Highland school district is an awesome school district — but as a town supervisor overseeing this these are questions that we should have.

The guys that sit on our boards are developers, builders, people that are buying up property, and the question should be asked, “How is this affecting you?” If you are developing on the outskirts of 9W and you’re pushing for big development, then shouldn’t we ask the question? Is this good for our town? Is this good for the economics of Highland?

How should Lloyd be developed in the future? Should it be kept more rural, or should it be more built out? What kind of businesses would you work to attract to town? What are your thoughts about the town’s comprehensive plan? Does it actually fit with the community?

I feel like there’s been a lot of changes in the comprehensive plan, [but] I’m not up to date, I’m not an expert. I’m just starting to read about that now. I feel that they’re developing the outskirts as I’ve said and it’s not for the benefit of this town.

I’m not saying that some of the development on 9W isn’t going to help Highland, but I think the development needs to come to the center of the hamlet again. And how can we make our town a destination? One of my slogans for my campaign is, “make Highland a destination, not a drive-through.” Make people not just drive through 9W, make them say wow, let’s go into the town, there’s a great little restaurant I heard of, or there’s a great little boutique down there and I’d love to get some cool shirts, or let’s go down there, there’s a gallery I want to look at.

There’s probably more things than I’m mentioning that could be a draw for Highland but we need to get there and we need to get there as a community.

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I’m not an expert. This is an education for me. I’m reading, I’m trying to pay attention to the meetings, I go to the meetings, I really try to be educated as to what is going on and what they are seeing as the future of Highland. Whether it’s the water department, the highway department, the planning board, the zoning board, I’m trying to get a feel for all of that.

This year’s tax cap was the lowest since that legislation was passed. How important is keeping within that cap? What would you do to keep spending in check? What would convince you to vote to exceed the cap, if you were elected?

I think we need to stay within the tax cap. Highland’s taxes are extremely hard. I know just for myself, I pay quite a few dollars in taxes for this property, and also my school taxes. I’m not sure what it will take to stay within it, I feel I would have to take a look at the whole budget and see where we can stay. Where are we high in?

Unfortunately you’re not going to win a popularity contest when you start looking into where all these taxes are going and where the spending is. I think there’s been some frugal spending, but things like the fountain make me uneasy, because I wonder what other things were spent that shouldn’t have been allocated? Things of that nature might not do a whole lot, but it’s something.
Maybe there are a lot of little things that need to be looked at. I can’t really completely answer, but I’ve balanced my budget with all my businesses because I’m still successful after 25 years of doing this. There are ways that we can have a look at this budget, roll up our sleeves and try to make it fit, and I don’t see increasing the taxes. I know there’s things that they want to do, but I also think some of them are on the fast track, and sometimes I wonder if it’s not for personal gain in this town, and that scares me.

What are your ideas for long-term infrastructure repairs to water and sewer? Would you like to see the water and sewer districts expanded, and if so, to where? How should that be paid for?

I hear ‘grant’ when i hear ‘expansion.’ I’m wondering if that’s reality that they can get grants to do so, Morris Associates seems to think so and I have faith that they’re right. I hear talk of connecting to Marlboro or possibly in the future New Paltz. If those are future gains for us, then I feel that those towns would have to pay for the new infrastructure to support that. I don’t feel that it’s fair for town residents to have to take that on. I don’t feel that it’s their bill. If one of these other towns comes to us and says that we want to hook up to your town, i believe that it should be in their best interests for them to pay for that.

In town some people want to hook up, and some people don’t want to. I understand that there’s an expense, if they have to pay for some part of the hook up I can understand their not wanting to, but I think it’s always beneficial. I’ve always had town water and sewer here and I’m quite happy that I do have that. I have wells all over the property, but I would never to depend on those. I rest assured having our town water and sewer department doing their job and taking care of us, so i think it would be in the best interest of [property owners] to have that done. They’re paying a small percent even though they don’t have town sewer and water, so therefore I would think they would want to, but again, it’s their choice, it’s their money. It’s really up to the homeowner.

There have been allegations of a sense of impropriety by town council and planning board members when it comes to zoning and development. Are those concerns warranted? If so, how would you strengthen policies to safeguard residents? If not, what would you do to allay those concerns?

I feel [some developers] have gotten away with some things that somebody maybe should take a look at. Putting up Toc Drive and changing that zoning, which is what I’m really doing some research on now. One of the questions to me is how can this hurt them and their property values? That’s the number-one reason why you don’t mess with the PRD [planned resident development] or the PUD [planned unit development]. You don’t mess with those zoning rules. There are no setbacks. I was educated yesterday that if he wanted to he could have put that building on the neighbor’s property line. That’s scary to me.

That’s was i noticed when there was talk of development next to me. Even though I’m a high point in Highland, and I will look down, I don’t think I’d be too happy if he put up buildings that are three stories right on my property line. The fact that that was allowed to go through and they hurt those people’s property values. That’s my number one screed: they hurt their property values. These guys should not have been allowed to change the zoning to make money on it for their personal gain. That is completely unethical, and i don’t know how this group of the “best boards” have allowed this to happen.

They should go back and put setbacks and rules in the PRDs so that if you’re building on a certain number of acres you have to give a setback based on building height. For the town board to have allowed that to be done is not good. I feel that zone should be revisited and read back to what it used to say, with setbacks.

Going back and answering the questions, how does this impact the neighborhood? That’s a valid question that they overlooked. It impacted the neighborhood, but they decided it would be good for the neighborhood.

What makes them judge and jury on this? That is huge, and listening to the residents is another way to fix some of these things that happened. Not shutting them up in a meeting, or adjourning a meeting before they could say anything. I think that they should have listened to those neighbors because now they simply say it was a mistake, maybe? Those are the kind of mistakes you can’t really afford to make, when it comes to people’s livelihood.

What are the top three challenges facing the Town of Lloyd right now?

Wine Village, Mountainside Woods, and the water department. Those are going to be the big challenges. I’m concerned, trying to figure out exactly what they’re trying to do with this $1.7 million, I know it’s to paint tanks and such, haven’t gotten it deeply enough to know the validity of all that, I’m taking it at face value that these are things that need to get done. I just want to make sure that bringing the water up farther 9W is the smartest thing for Highland. I can’t even comment because I’m not even sure about the details of that. Also, we just finished a note that we had for many years in Highland and now we’re taking advice from Morris Associates to have another note start. I’m always apprehensive to bond, it’s like buying property or refinancing property, I always like to think it through to make sure we’re making the right decision.

Mountainside Woods, my biggest concern is that there’s one way up, and if something is to terribly tragically go wrong how would they get out? The traffic in that area is going to be so overwhelming, that’s a huge concern.

Wine Village and Mountainside Woods and any further housing development my concern is the impact on the school system — how do we do this? What’s it going to cost? If we grow out of our school, what’s that going to cost? More teachers, more buses, bigger schools, that’s one of the things that sits in the back of my head that I feel like is going to be a huge question. It’s mind-boggling, quite frankly. And how does Mountainside Woods impact our residents on Toc Drive? How does Wine Village impact all the people around there that are trying to get out to go to work in the morning? These are all the things I think about. Maybe it’s a good thing, but I definitely have to look into it.

What will be your top three priorities when you begin as supervisor in January?

Look at the budget. Make sure the boards are balanced. I don’t know how you do that. I think there are members that we really need to take a look at. Get to know all of our departments; I haven’t had four years to do this. Once i get in — if I get in — I’ll try to see what’s going on, and get to the bottom of some things. See what is best for Highland and change that.

I don’t want to always come off as negative. I know that board members have worked in this town, and I appreciate the service that they’ve given. I unfortunately just think it’s not service to take care of the residents.

Before even deciding to do this, I really soul-searched to decide if this was okay to do. My businesses are well under way on their own, and I have a great business partner who is able to take over and do the things that I can’t. I’ve hired to implement more staff into the restaurant, so I am not having to be in a specific spot.

I’m the kind of person who will pull up her sleeves when I get into that office, and try to figure it all out, make real good decisions for this town, and make sure that some of the jobs that were given to people were given fairly . I’d like to see the right person in the right job, and that’s a hard thing to do. Any decision you make there’s always going to be someone who thinks they would have made a better decision, and that’s who you listen to.

You have to listen to everybody, and pay attention, and be involved and know what’s good for the community. You have to be fully abreast of what’s going on to make the best decisions, not for a builder or a developer, but for a taxpayer. You’re going to affect their homes, the money they have worked their entire lives for. And they don’t have the money these developers have, who come in here put something behind your property so that you’ll never be able to use your back yard again, these people have to be thought of. They’ve been in this town for their lives, how do you now say sorry, we’re going to hurt you now. That’s why I got into it.

I want to make this a better place because I live here, too.

If these boards and the current administration were doing what they were supposed to be doing, I wouldn’t be here today. I’d be voting to put him back in office.

 

Paul Hansut

Why did you decide to run for office?

We still have some things that aren’t accomplished and finalized. The Hudson Valley Winery we’re hoping in my next term will flourish and take life. That’s a huge economic boost that that will come not only to Lloyd but to Marlboro and the whole county. I enjoy serving people. I enjoy being part of the community. I was born and raised here, went to schools here. I just love highland. I think we have a great potential. We’re seeing a lot of positive development that’s going on in the community. The other night we had Servpro, they come in and clean up disasters, they’re opening a building on Lumen Lane that’s 17,000 square feet. We had Selux put on an addition. Hudson Valley Rehab on Vineyard Avenue put on an addition. There’s a lot of positive things and good things going on, and I want to be part of that.

What skills, experiences or qualifications do you have that make you believe you would make a competent supervisor?

My background going back to when I was a child with my father, who was Bob Hansut. He served on the school board and the town board and a vast variety of not-for-profits. My father-in-law, Danny Alfonso same thing. I had a good foundation in my young adulthood as well as becoming an adult of giving back to the community, serving the people that you’re elected to serve.

[I had[ experience on the Ulster County Legislature. I, was elected to two terms there, and was majority leader for two years. As that, I had to build a consensus between not only the Republicans but the Democrats as well, but I always had a good working relationship with them.

Being in this position as well as that position I’ve learned the skills of problem-solving and facilitating to get problems solved. I have a good working relationship with both sides, both political parties whether it be Republican or Democrat. I have a good relationship with Mike Hein. I have a good relationship with Frank Skartados.

My experience over the eight years that I’ve served in public office make me the best qualified for this position. It’s a position that has a lot of responsibility. You’re the chief financial officer of the town. It’s not just about sitting on a board and voting on one project or one development. It’s dealing with the police department, dealing with the town employees. I’ve negotiated two civil service CSEA contracts, one PBA and we’re in the midst of finishing a second for the PBA. My background with the city of Poughkeepsie police department, where i was PBA president and vice president for eight years, gave me a perspective of negotiations from the other side of the table.

This is a job that requires experience. I possess the experience, the leadership. Since I took office all of our meetings are live-streamed, they’re recorded. We have robo calls for emergencies, we have channel 22. You as a reporter know that any information you’ve ever wanted is there for you. I have an open-door policy, and I also realize in this position that you’re not going to make everybody happy.

There’s ten thousand people in the town of Lloyd. You try to do what you feel is best for the residents, and with my experience, with my background, with my community service, that I’m the best choice for town supervisor.

How should Lloyd be developed in the future? Should it be kept more rural, or should it be more built out? What kind of businesses would you work to attract to town? What are your thoughts about the town’s comprehensive plan? Does it actually fit with the community?

When I took office the master plan was adopted in 2005. It’s supposed to be reviewed every five years and it hadn’t been in almost eight years, so we set up a committee to go through the review or revision of the comp plan. It was a very vast perspective of people that served on it. We had peple from the ECC, from the environmental perspectives that had concerns. We had planning board members, ZBA members. Eight or nine sat on this committee and came up with the master plan. Are there things that could be changed in it or revisited? Next year we’re going to do it again.

I know my opponent and the Democratic perspective is the conversation about development. The development up on Toc Drive seems to be the hot button going into it. The PRD local law was adopted in 2011. I was elected, and started my service, in 2012, so that law was in place prior to me. I didn’t have any input in that.

The comp plan, that they say the PRDs were changed in, I challenge anyone to show me in that comp plan where it was changed. It was discussed, there were some thoughts, but the actual adopted comp plan has no changes to the PRD. As far as the projects up on Toc Drive that seem to be the hot issue, Mountainside Woods: the zoning change was five nothing including the lone Democrat on the board voting for the zone change. He also voted for the zone change at Trail View. These are unanimous decisions that were made.

There were public hearings for Mountainside Woods, there must have been four or five of them. I think our planning board and the town board did its due diligence to where this is the first project of this magnitude. Bridgeview [is] another one, that is being done in phases, which is very important for people to know. They will not build a house until they have in contract [an] owner locked in to purchase that house. The first phase is going to be 55 units. When that is done and completed, they will come back in, we will do our inspections. Tthen they can go on to the next phase. I think there was a lot of planning put into that.

Trail View. He came in. There’s been a lot of criticism on Brad Scott Sr. It’s actually Brad Scott Jr.’s property. That was a a project I was involved in and I have said this from the beginning, I’ve learned a lot from that project.

Moving forward the next one, the noise ordinance. The jack hammering was a big concern. I live up there, I live one street over, I heard the jack hammering, I lived the whole experience. In talking to the Ulster County planning board they suggested next time you do a project you put some stipulations as far as noise, as far as work, in the site plan, and it locks the developer in. Trail View was reviewed by the Ulster County planning board. They thought it was a good project based on our comp plan, based on the town center. They did have a couple of suggestions that I believe were looked at.

Every project that we talk about here goes to the county. We’ve been criticized that we supermajority everything if we don’t like what they have to say, which I don’t think is true. I think we know as a town board what is best for our community.

Would I like to see more commercial development? Sure. We worked very hard on the gateway zone from Milton Avenue to Haviland Road. The one thing I’m proud that I’ve done is we’ve developed a relationship with Scenic Hudson. We were adversaries in the beginning, I’ve worked with Jeff Anzevino and with the winery project, there was a lot of controversy over it. Scenic Hudson actually came out and supported that project at one of our meetings based on the conversations we’ve had.

I’m never against sitting down and talking with somebody. We’ve had some very good conversations with Scenic Hudson. The winery project, great project, [there’s] been a lot of public hearings. People seem to think that their voices aren’t heard at these public hearings, but they are. Whether it be a minor change or a major change, we take into consideration everything that the public has to say.

[On] the Mountainside Woods project we had a public hearing up at the firehouse — there were some very upset people at that public hearing. Within the next week or two personally I went with the developer and we met with each and every one of the homeowners up there. Their concerns were addressed, and there were some major changes to the site plan for those people.

For Trail View, I got the Saturday calls, I got the Sunday calls, I went and spoke to some of the residents over there. Is it a major change of lifestyle for them? Absolutely. What people need to know with Trail View is he put $90,000 into our rec programs for capital improvement, which he had to, but it was $90,000 that wasn’t there, and this year he’s going to pay almost $70,000 in new money into our tax budget. If you’ve been up there and you’ve looked at them, they’re a great addition to the community, I think. Many, many people think that.

The winery project is going to be the light industrial. It’s going to be the hotel-convention center, the wedding chapels. We’ve approved 155 [units] at this point. I know our opponents are saying we’ve approved 800, the 800 houses are coming, the 900. That is simply not true. The facts are light industrial, hotel-convention, 155 houses, period. We applied for a consolidated funding application — this is the second time we’ve applied for it — the application and the process was paid for by the developer, no taxpayer dollars.

If we are successful, the town will have a local share. The developer is going to pay that local share. If we are not successful, they are going to run the water. We have made it perfectly clear as a town board that our taxpayers are not paying for this project.

Once again, that’s been said in open meetings, public hearings. Obiously someone wasn’t paying attention, because they’re out telling people that we’re building 800 homes now. Well, that’s not happening. Every project that comes in we look at, there’s due diligence to every single project.

We want to make sure that 20 years from now the project the projects that are built — Mountainside Woods for example — the developer was upset that our engineer was on site every day. He’s paying for it, we’re not. We said look, 20 years from now this is not coming back to haunt us.

Before I took office there was a lot of taxpayer money being paid into different processes of planning and zoning. After I took office I said the developer is paying everything. He’s paying our lawyers, he’s paying our engineers, he is paying everything and that’s what the developers have been doing. All that stuff that has to be done the developer is paying for, and we made sure that our inspectors are on site every day because five, ten, 15 years from now I don’t want it to come back and be a problem for the town. So we are looking out. I’m not personally friends with any developer. We want to put them through the process and we want to make sure that the development we get in this town is good for the town.

Trail View: full. Every place is rented. Mountainside Woods, they just started building their three different model homes that they’re going to do. If you talk to business owners downtown — I bought Quality Cleaners in Highland — these people in these 36 unites that are there are going to spend money here. They’re talking about these projects being tax burdens.

An article in the Poughkeepsie Journal said the population of New York State is going down. Everything I’ve read, the schools’ population is down. They’re talking about the traffic for these two developments up there.

We’ve been going through eight years with DOT trying to straighten the intersection at Tillson Avenue. We’re getting close. My personal opinion is that the state doesn’t have the money and they’re putting us through these hoops because they don’t have the money. But we’re getting close. We’ve got some design approvals to go ahead with the right-of-way purchases of the houses that will be affected. It’s not what I wanted as far as an intersection, it’s going to be two stop signs coming down Toc, down Tillson, nothing on Vineyard. We wanted a light. but DOT says you’re not getting a light.

I believe the increased residential development already has driven commercial development in the hamlet. Vineyard Commons, many years ago people were against that. There’s a couple of businesses, car repairs, restaurants. They have seen increases since those folks have been there. Now that place is almost completely occupied. The people who are living here are going to come and eat here. People wanted to see WalMarts and Targets and all that stuff. They come down and do studies, there’s not enough rooftops so they don’t want to come here. But I think we’re getting people into our community. They’re enjoying the rail-trail, and I think it has more positive than negative.

This year’s tax cap was the lowest since that legislation was passed. How important is keeping within that cap? What would you do to keep spending in check? What would convince you to vote to exceed the cap, if you were elected?

When I took office in 2012, the previous year they had gone above the cap. The three budgets I have put together we have been below the cap. We have staYed below the cap without affecting services. There were a couple of positions that were full-time we made part-time.

We went with a philosophy of a zero-based budget, which means we start at zero and we add up what our department heads think they’re going to need to keep their departments functioning. There’s no more thrills, there’s no more frills, There’s no more wish list. They are told this is what we’re going to do, what you need to operate is what you need to operate.

I think the first year the cap was 1.65 per cent. We were under that by almost $100,000. Second year, I think it was 1.5 per cent. We were under that by $40,000. Last year we were under it by $30,000.

Every day that I come in I talk to my budget officer, I talk to the bookkeeper, to make sure our spending is in line. We do a monthly supervisor’s report that in years past not all department heads got copies of. Every department gets a copy of it now. The budget officer, myself, the bookkeeper, we sit down and ask, where’re we at? Who’s spending what, are we in line with the budget? And we’ve done very very well.

Are we going to make the cap this time? At 0.73 per cent it’s going to be tough. The only way in my experience to cut a budget is by cutting personal services. That’s where your money is. And to cut personal services now you’re going to cut quality-of-life issues and other services to the community.

The transfer station was a big thing there. We were able to keep it open, but we had to raise the permit fees and some of the costs to keep it open. Knowing this was a problem, I put out for a public informational meeting because I wanted to hear what the public had to say. We had about 25 people that showed up. We got a lot of good input, so that’s going to stay open.

We go through every single line item. Our police budget, there’s going to be some increases in that, but if you look at what’s going on law enforcement-wise you need to keep that money there for the quality of life. We have a big drug problem being that we’re in between Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Kingston. We sit in the middle of the triangle. I’m very satisfied with the police department, so there might be a little increase there.

Every item will be looked at, we start at the zero base and work our way up. Been working on it now for two weeks. At our workshop on the seventh, we’re doing things differently than was done in the past. All the department heads will turn in their budget sheets, and we will put together a tentative budget. We’ll see that probably some time in October. From there we’ll know where we’re at and where we’ve got to get to. But I’m confident we’ll make the cap.

What are your ideas for long-term infrastructure repairs to water and sewer? Would you like to see the water and sewer districts expanded, and if so, to where? How should that be paid for?

At this point would we like to expand? Absolutely, I’d love to be able to expand north on 9W to all that property that’s up there commercially. The problem is the cost is huge. The updates we’re talking now for the water plant through some fiscal responsibility and looking at budgets we’re trying to make it that the current users aren’t overwhelmed with the taxes.

That is why, when you’re talking development, when you’re talking infrastructure, the more users we get into the system the better it is for everybody. If we can get the winery project in at no cost of expanding the district down there it helps everybody. Unfortunately, we’ve got to do these upgrades. There’s no way around it. The longer you wait, the more expensive it becomes. But when we do this — there was a lot of thorough process by the town board, by the water and sewer district — I think next year we were going to pay off a debt. Rather than bringing that debt down to nothing, we’re going to sustain that debt.

A lot of times what happens with budgets is you bring that down to zero, and all of a sudden you’ve got to do the project and you’re raising it 20%. For example. If we keep it steady, we think that was the way to go. If you improve your infrastructure you’re going to bring business. That’s where we’re going. I’d love to expand it but everything comes with a dollar amount. Everybody talks about grants. We’ve applied for several, and the money seems to be going to other places either in the county or in the state.

There have been allegations of a sense of impropriety by town council and planning board members when it comes to zoning and development. Are those concerns warranted? If so, how would you strengthen policies to safeguard residents? If not, what would you do to allay those concerns?

I think the concerns that have come up in the last two years — and I always say this — that’s there’s perception and there’s reality. The members of the planning board serve seven-year terms. They are covered under the Public Officers Law, so if you’re going to remove one of them, you’re going to have to bring them up on charges and they’re entitled to due process. Same thing with the ZBA: five members, five-year terms. They all do it with no remuneration, none of them get paid.

The perception that has come up — first let me say the one member, Brad Scott, that they keep referring to, he was appointed before I got here.

I honestly believe they’re one of the finest planning boards we have. They put pencil to paper, they ask good questions. It’s all about perception. When he brought this project forward for his son, he recused himself. Scott Saso recused himself. They left the room. There was no further conversation. Perception is that the rest of the board members are going to go along with whatever he wants to do.

Reality is that that planning board, the way it sits right now, that’s not happening. You have a broad perspective of different people that sit on that planning board, and I am confident that the questions that needed to be answered, they ]get] answered. Can there be some changes? I’m sure. I told one of the residents who was complaining, feel free to go to the attorney general’s office and make a complaint and have him come over and investigate because by law — and the way we’ve handled things in this town since I’ve been supervisor is to follow the scope of the law. I know there was a request to the ethics board to look into it. I’m not sure what happened to that request. I think it was brought to the chairman.

How do you deal with perceptioon? That’s difficult. In other towns there are accusations about town-board members that they do it for their own personal agenda. I spent 20 years in law enforcement. I look at it by the law. If we’re not violating a law — created by New York State — I have no reasion to bring anyone on the planning board or zoning board up on charges at this point.

I’m not gonig to waste taxpayer dollars to go after a witch hunt. The individuals which have been involved with the development, others in their profession and the community find them to be very good at their job. There was never anything I was aware of with them communicating with the board whatever. It was put out there and that’s it.

What are the top three challenges facing the Town of Lloyd right now?

Staying within the budget. Commercial growth. Completing infrastructure projects we’d like to see done.

What will be your top three priorities when you begin as supervisor in January?

I’d like to see this winery project become a reality. I think it’s going to be great for the community. I’d like to see the rail-trail from the Walkway out to Station Two and then hook up with the county to go out. That’s going to be a good thing for the town. I look forward to good health. I look forward to our town growing.

I’m the chairman of the revolving loan committee. When I took office there was $370,000 in the fund. We’ve given out probably $250,000 in low-interest loans to different businesses in the village, and you’ve seen what they’ve done. We’ve invested in our local businesses. In July I purchased the dry cleaner downtown. It was a mom-and-pop operation that they were getting ready to retire [from] and we would have had another empty storefront. My wife and I purchased that because I wanted to invest in my community. ++

There is one comment

  1. Deb Wildrick

    It seems that the town of Highland could use a fresh point of view and the motivation behind good ideas to revive my hometown, Highland. Claire Winslow would be an ideal Town Supervisor and is passionate about the common good for all in this community. If I was still a resident, my vote would go to Claire!

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