Saugerties Village Board considers changes in election rules
Should a sitting board member be allowed to run for another position? If a Saugerties village trustee were to run for mayor in a year that he was up for election, he would have to give up his seat in order to run. However, if his trustee seat was not up for election, he could hold the seat and return to the board if he lost in the mayoral race.
Trustee Jeff Helmuth questioned this provision. “If trustees A, B and C are on the same cycle as the mayor, they would have to give up their seat in order to run for mayor because you can’t run for two positions on the same ballot, whereas if trustees D, E and F are on the off cycle, they can run for mayor and if they lose, they can go back and sit in their trustee seat. “We should address that,” suggested Helmuth at the February 16 village board meeting. In fact, in the 2019 village election, Donald Hackett, whose seat was not up for reelection, ran for mayor and lost to incumbent Bill Murphy. Hackett retained his seat.
“Should we also add that a trustee or mayor cannot run for town board, state, local or any other thing as long as they sit on the town board? Hackett asked. “Is that what you’re trying to say? Should we also add to your agenda that there should be term limits for any trustee or mayor?”
“We could think about that,” Helmuth said.
Should the limit refer only to the village board? “There are town board seats up for election,” Hackett said. “Should a trustee give up his seat if he wants to run for a town board seat?”
“If a trustee were to run for another office and win, he would have to give up his village seat,” councilman Terry Parisian pointed out. The question is, can he run for another seat and hold his seat through the election, Hackett said. If the board wants to question potential conflict at the village level, the discussion should include term limits “and anything else that would be affected.”
“You can run for two different offices and if you win one, you have to give up the other, but if you’re an incumbent, you can keep your seat; that’s the way it is right now,” Mayor Bill Murphy said. However, Helmuth said, the difference between an incumbent trustee and one whose term is up is what he questions. All candidates should have the same constraints, he said.
One solution would be to make the mayor’s term four years. This would eliminate the conflict between the election for the different seats, Murphy suggested.
In response to a question, Hackett said he would favor any village board member having to give up his seat if he ran for any office at any level.
Murphy asked, “You mean if I ran for president in 2024, I can’t?”
“You’re done — out,” Hackett said.
Hackett reminded the board that when former town supervisor Kelly Myers ran for the post, she was a member of the village board. She only gave up her village seat after winning the supervisor position.
If the board wants to make a change, it should encompass the entire electoral procedure, not just the one factor, Murphy said.
New water department billing system offers efficiency, convenience
The Saugerties Water Department expects to have a new billing system online just after the March water bills are sent out, superintendent Mike Hopf reported at the village board meeting on February 16. “This will open up the window to a lot of things,” he said. Customers will be able to see their accounts online, make payments online and look at their billing history. “It will be a lot more user friendly,” Hopf said. The department will also be able to do “email blasts or text blasts” for such information as water main breaks and boil water notices.
In another matter, the village board approved the purchase of a new 2021 one-ton 4×4 truck with a service body. The truck will replace a ten-year-old 4×4 truck. “We budgeted $45,000 for this vehicle, and the vehicle will be paid for from the water department short-lived asset account, which has a fund balance of $104,000,” said Hopf.
Trustee Donald Hackett asked what the department would do with the old truck. Hopf said it would be auctioned off at a website, which he said has a good audience and generally gives the village good value for items sold on it.
Trustee Terry Parisian asked whether the truck could have been bought through the state bid. Hopf responded that this process wouldn’t work for the vehicle the village is buying, but it can join other municipalities and put in a joint bid. Parisian also noted that the purchase must be from a dealer within five miles of the village and he wanted to know if there is a franchised dealer who meets the requirement. Hopf said there is one.
Village will participate in next round of NY water release hearings
Village of Saugerties Special Projects Coordinator Alex Wade reported at the February 16 village board meeting that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and state Department of Environmental Conservation are accepting written comments regarding muddy releases from its Ashokan reservoir and advised the village board to submit a statement. “There was an email that came out just a little while ago; how to reserve for public comment at the next meeting, Wade said. “Everybody should look into that and make sure they’re reserved.”
“I’m going to put that on the village and town website as well because I reserved for the last meeting, but I had a game and I couldn’t log in, so I had to phone in and I couldn’t get in on that call, so Freddy [Saugerties Supervisor Fred Costello] spoke for us.” Wade said he had a similar problem and couldn’t get on at all; it will probably be a different scene this time.”
Wade said that to make sure his feelings are recorded by the DEP and DEC, he will be writing them in a letter to the agencies.
The next hearing is set for Wednesday, March 3 at 4 p.m. To participate in this Webex meeting and provide a public statement, you must register by 10 a.m. on March 1.
For full background and Webex sign-up information for the second public hearing, visit the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC): https://www.dec.ny.gov/enb/122281.html.