Ten years after the question was last posed, New Paltz town voters will again have the opportunity to extend the term of office of the highway superintendent from two years to four. The last time such a referendum was proposed, in 2006, the town clerk and supervisor terms were also put on the ballot; only the town clerk’s term was extended.
“Two years in my job is not enough,” said Chris Marx, the present office holder. Even with his many years of working in the town’s highway department, Marx found himself having to learn considerably more about municipal finance and budgeting, and someone without that experience would have even more to learn. In addition, the impact of the tax cap is that projects “get pushed further and further out,” meaning that there’s an increasing possibility that they won’t be started and completed under the same supervisor.
Deputy Supervisor Dan Torres thought it would be suitable to allow voters to reconsider the supervisor’s term as well, but Town Board member Jeff Logan had strong objections. “You’ll have a better chance without the supervisor,” he said. Torres thought the high turnout expected for the presidential race made this the ideal time to reconsider a lengthier term for both, but Logan focused on the fact that such referenda tend to be about the person in office, even if it’s the term of office being discussed. Supervisor Bettez is new, he reasoned, and it could be seen as an attempt to grab power that would imperil the chances for the highway superintendent.
Only the highway superintendent position has been scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday, August 18, 7:15 p.m., at the New Paltz Community Center.