In New Paltz, the November election will feature but one name on the line for town clerk and town justice. Despite the fact that Rosanna Mazzaccari and Jim Bacon will run unopposed, this paper asked them about how they would deal with their responsibilities if elected.
What have you changed since you took office?
The biggest and most obvious change has been the improvement of the appearance and organization of the office. The residents and taxpayers deserve a clean and professional place to go when they are paying their taxes, licensing their dogs or just looking for information. Another major change has come with the town’s new website. This has allowed me to post and make available to the public, the meeting schedule, general information, forms, documents and minutes from our various boards, committees and commissions. We have received positive feedback from people who have visited the site looking for something and were able to find it. As the town’s records management officer, I revamped our records program with help from our New York State archives regional advisory officer. I have been able to put more focus on and maintain the integrity of our records by implementing three record management days throughout the last few years, with help from the Town Board. This involves closing Town Hall to the public to allow the offices to review and organize its records. During this process, we have been able to properly identify and destroy records that have passed their retention dates, which by law we are required to do.
How have the duties of town clerk been changed by new procedures and laws over the past four years?
The duties of the town clerk do not change very much. However, the way we perform those duties are affected by changes made by state, county and local agencies. For example, over the last few years, the state has implemented two new sport licensing systems. Anytime a new program is launched, it takes time to learn and adjust to using it. A welcomed change came with the county’s improved tax collection program. The county took feedback from all the tax collectors in the county and created a much better system. The state recently made changes to regulations pertaining to vital records, which means that we as registrars and our staff must learn the regulations and adhere to them. This is a constant learning process.
What are the top three challenges facing the town clerk in the next four years?
The top three challenges I face include a change in administration, a move into a new Town Hall/Municipal Center and the phasing in of our new Docuware software system.
Why are you seeking another term?
I enjoy the job and the challenges presented by the broad spectrum of matters addressed in our court such as non-jury and jury trials, civil matters, code violations, violations of agriculture and markets law, traffic court, pre-trial hearings, arraignments, felony hearings, applications for orders of protection, setting bail, search warrant applications, alternatives to incarceration, drug court referrals, as well as keeping up with continuing education requirements and coordinating administrative duties with judge [Jonathan] Katz concerning the court’s day-to-day operations. Also, many times in adjudicating matters there is an opportunity to effect a positive difference in someone’s life, which I find challenging and rewarding.
What changes would you like to see in the town court in the next four years, and why?
The New Paltz court is one of the busiest in Ulster County (approximately 10,000 cases in 2014). The police department and court were always housed in the same building until fairly recently. That has presented difficulties in terms of maintaining safety and logistics (prisoner transport, etc.) There really should be a single building to contain both as close to the center of New Paltz as possible.
What are the top three challenges facing the justice court right now?
1) Maintaining safety.
2) Managing with limited space.
3) Dealing with a building that was not designed for the number of persons who are using it (including the court’s staff and officers).
To learn about the New Paltz town supervisor and Town Board candidates, visit newpaltzx.com.