Saugerties Times letters to the editor (10/5-10/11)

Saugerties worst in Ulster County

The New York State Comptroller has released his Fiscal Stress Scores for 2016 and the Town of Saugerties is one of eleven towns in the entire state to be designated “fiscally stressed.” Saugerties by far has the worst stress score of any town in Ulster County.*

Sadly, this news is not shocking considering the reckless spending of the Democrat-controlled town board over the past decade. Their carelessness has put the taxpayers of Saugerties at great peril by not being prepared to meet a future financial crisis. An economic downturn or other emergency could result in massive property tax increases for Saugerties residents that we can’t afford!

The comptroller’s scores are determined by looking at budgetary issues like year-end fund balances, operating deficits and short and long-term debt. Other issues such as population, employment and values are also factored into the score. Saugerties’ flunking grade reinforces the fact that taxpayers are at their breaking points and the current Democratic town board has no answers. Their proclamations of fiscal responsibility are hollow and their alleged economic development success is fake. Has anyone taken a drive on Kings Highway lately and seen all the vacant commercial buildings? And while Saugerties has very recently enjoyed the raising of its bond rating (after previously having been downgraded by S&P two years in a row), surely once this new information is factored in, the rating agency will re-evaluate its decision and Saugerties will risk being downgraded once again. Such an outcome will result in a higher borrowing rate for Saugerties and, ultimately, higher property taxes to pay for it.

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The stakes for the November 7 town elections could not be greater. The best way to combat such an outcome is to trim spending and keep a healthy fund balance. It is imperative to keep spending at a responsible level and maintain an adequate reserve for unexpected expenses. The best hope we have to begin to reverse the Democrats’ explosion of spending is to elect the Conservative Party’s endorsed town candidates: Jimmy Bruno for supervisor and Don Tucker and Paul Andreassen for town board.

*For more information on New York’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System, see:http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/fiscalmonitoring/pdf/factsheet.pdf

To see how Saugerties compares to other New York State municipalities, see: https://wwe1.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/fiscalmonitoring/fsms.cfm

George Heidcamp, Chairman
Saugerties Conservative Party
Executive Committee

 

Register to vote by October 13

October 13 is an important deadline for New York voters. If you are not a registered voter, you must register by October 13 if you want to vote in the November 7 election. These mostly local elections are for our Ulster County legislators and the Saugerties Town Board. Both the legislature and the town board may make many decisions that can impact the quality of your life, such as your drinking water, law enforcement, the roads you drive on etc. These elections are often decided by a handful of voters. Your vote is counted and it could count mightily.

If you are registered to vote, and now want to enroll in a party, or if you want to change your party choice in time to vote in your new party’s primary in 2018, you must change that choice by October 13 of this year. Many voters were disappointed or even angry that they could not participate in the primary elections that chose the presidential candidates in 2016. State election law is quite restrictive on this matter. Voters who do not choose any party when they register to vote simply lose the right to vote in any primary. Not only do you have to choose a party, but you must make that choice before the previous general election. October 13, 2017 is the deadline to make your choice to be eligible to vote in a 2018 primary of your choice.

Democrats will presumably have a primary next summer to choose a candidate to challenge Congressman John Faso. Eight people have declared their candidacy already. If you want a say in which person will be the Democratic candidate to turn New York’s congressional district 19’s seat blue, you must have signed-up as a Democrat by October 13 of this year, which is roughly eight days from when this letter is published.

It’s easy. Call the Board of Elections at (845) 334-5470, stop by their office at 284 Wall Street, Kingston or at our town hall to fill out a registration form. You can also download a form at the Ulster County Board of Elections website and mail it in, or deliver it by hand. Make sure it gets there by the 13th of October.

Voting is our patriotic duty and our privilege in a Democracy, including in primaries to choose candidates. Why throw your right away?

Lanny Walter, Chairman
Saugerties Democratic Committee

 

 

Public service over political rhetoric

It’s that time of year again when the county establishment gathers hand in hand around the proverbial re-election campaign campfire. They’ll sing the praises of this year’s Kumbaya-like rendition of the budget rollout, with the executive on lead vocals and a harmonious background chorus of legislators (all up for re-election). We will hear talking points and phrases like “spending reductions”, “tax neutral” and “reduced property taxes.” It will all sound fantastic and if we didn’t know any better we would think that new businesses were coming in droves and our property tax concerns would soon be a thing of the past.

The truth is that the county executive and his team have plenty to hang their hats on, but for our local legislator to present only a glossed over view with no critical analysis seems incredibly irresponsible at best. It is important for public servants to remain skeptical of our leaders and their actions in order to remain loyal to the taxpayer and not party lines … and to be critical of every dollar spent. That’s a legislator’s job!

Now, it is true that the county’s budget has decreased since 2012, but the point must also be made that we have operated at a deficit in three of the past six years, meaning it has spent more than it has taken in. No business-minded professional with real experience in dealing with margins and a bottom line would ever look past this reality.

In making these changes the County administration has thought outside the box and outsourced services — one of those being mental health programs. The Legislature has repeatedly discussed needing an in-depth evaluation of the effects of these changes to mental health services. To date there has yet to be any follow-through … all while our local legislator advertises its efficiencies. To assume a program succeeds without any factual data to back it up is undependable.

In terms of tax reductions, since 2013 the tax levy has been reduced by nearly $2 million. And while I can appreciate this reduction, the actual effect it has on the individual taxpayer is minimal. For example, the most recent tax levy reduction (from 2016 to 2017) was for less than $200,000. Parading around talking about reductions in taxes that translate to literal pennies on the individual taxpayer is misleading.

District 2 needs and deserves a capable representative that understands our new charter form of government and the differences between policy and operations. The executive needs a competent legislature that will assist and not hinder executive goals while most importantly providing checks and balances and not cheer-leading and propaganda. Following the November elections I look forward to serving Saugerties residents and providing the transparency they are entitled to.

Joe Maloney|
District 2 legislative candidate
Saugerties

 

Vote Democratic for legislature

Republicans have a majority in the Ulster County Legislature. It is instructive to see how they have used that majority. They blocked the Comprehensive Human Rights Law for Ulster County; they worked against protections for transgendered members of our community; they banned memorializing resolutions that gave us a voice in state and federal issues such as Pilgrim Pipeline and Affordable Care Act.

Saugerties voters have the opportunity to change the legislature. We can re-elect Chris Allen and we can elect Mike MacIsaac to the Ulster County Legislature. Those of us who know Mike know him to be a man of integrity and well-thought ideas. He will be a positive addition to the Ulster County Legislature.

Margo McGilvrey
Saugerties

There are 2 comments

  1. Bart Friedman

    Be suspicious of politicians of any party. Suspect their motives, look for the hypocrisy of their words. Examine their character. Find out if they’ve ever been jailed for a felony.

  2. Jake

    National standards for registration and voting procedures need to be enacted. While it is a citizen’s duty to learn the local and state procedures where they reside, this is a very mobile nation, and glitches of misunderstanding occur all too frequently, even amongst poll volunteers who should know the job. One standard for all municipalities and states.

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