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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, May 12, 2011
GUILDERLAND The mood was celebratory and the votes were unanimous on New Year’s Day at Guilderland’s annual reorganizational meeting.
“It was very nice to see unanimous votes today,” said Councilman Brian Forte towards the close of the meeting, alluding to the fact that the five-member board was all-Democratic.
For the previous four years, two Republican councilmen, Warren Redlich and Mark Grimm, had frequently nettled the Democratic supervisor, Kenneth Runion. Redlich moved to Florida, resigning shortly before his term was over. Grimm, who attended the New Year’s meeting, did not seek re-election.
About 60 people were on hand to watch the proceedings on Sunday morning.
One by one, the officials who had been elected in November walked to the podium, joined by their families, to place their left hands on the Bible and raise their right hands as they repeated the oath of office, led by New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Breslin:
Forte, a Democrat and a retired Guilderland policeman, had a decisive victory in a four-way race for two town-board seats, garnering 32 percent of the vote. His wife, Cindy, and three daughters joined him at the podium. “I thank the town for electing me,” he said.
Allen Maikels, a Democrat and a self-employed certified public accountant who had represented Westmere in the Albany County Legislature, spoke of the open government he’d observed while on Guilderland’s zoning board. “I hope we’re going to achieve great things for Guilderland,” he said. His son, Allen, and daughter, Mary Beth, helped with his swearing-in.
Steve Oliver, the only Guilderland Republican elected in November, won the highway superintendent post by a landslide. He has worked in the department for a quarter of a century, starting as a laborer and working his way up, finally being appointed deputy superintendent when the longtime superintendent retired. Runion praised Oliver’s “terrific job.” Oliver was joined at the podium by his wife, Leah; daughters Katelin and Heather; and Heather’s two children; the Olivers also have a third daughter, Meghan.
John Bailey, a Democrat and a lawyer, was easily re-elected to a third term as town judge. “I’m so happy my friend for decades and decades has been elected,” said Judge Breslin. Bailey, joined by his wife, Georgi, said their son, Ryan, was “stranded in a snow storm in Saratoga last night.” Laughter rippled across the crowd with the realization this was a reference to a New Year’s Eve celebration in warm weather. Their son redeemed himself, though, appearing at the last minute as Bailey quipped, “Apparently, the snowplows came through….”
Runion, a Democrat, took the oath last as his wife, Helene, held the Bible; he noted their two sons live out of town. Runion was unopposed in his run for a seventh two-year term.
Albany County Comptroller Michael Conners, elected for a fifth four-year term in November, then spoke on behalf of the new county executive, Daniel McCoy; both are Democrats. Since Guilderland and Colonie were both holding their reorganizational meetings at 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day, the pair flipped a coin to see who would speak where.
“I won,” said Conners.
He urged the crowd to “keep shopping,” alluding to the sales-tax revenues garnered from business at Guilderland’s Crossgates Mall.
He also spoke of skyrocketing Medicaid costs and said of Michael Breslin, the Democratic county executive who did not run for re-election, that he “had the courage to put the revenues there and balance the budget.” The county budget, Conners said, has a $15 million structural deficit.
Referring to McCoy, Conners concluded, “Keep Dan in your prayers and keep shopping.”
Runion also recognized Guilderland’s Democratic assemblyman, John McEneny, at Sunday’s event, calling him “a very strong supporter of Guilderland” who provided the town “with a number of member-item grants,” particularly to help alleviate flooding in the Stuyvesant Plaza area.
At the close of the 45-minute meeting, Councilwoman Patricia Slavick thanked those who serve on Guilderland boards, and Councilman Paul Pastore concluded, “Hopefully, we’ll forge ahead for the town under these difficult economic times.”
New laws proposed
The board scheduled public hearings for Jan. 17 on two proposed laws. One would require that dogs be leashed on public property, such as town parks and roads. Currently, the law requires only that dogs be under the control of their owners. “There can be issues of clean-up,” said Runion.
The only public land where dogs will be able to run free is in the fenced dog park. Dog owners had been charged a $20 annual fee to use the park, but, now that the fence has been paid for, the fee will be eliminated, Runion said. The dog park is located on Nott Road.
“We’ll keep the normal parks with dogs leashed and allow the dogs of any resident to run at the dog park,” Runion said on Tuesday.
The other proposed law is to reduce the number of zoning board members from seven to five.
“Everybody’s talking about economy of scale,” Runion told The Enterprise when asked the reason for reducing the number of zoning board members. “It does save money.”
The zoning board members are paid $4,800 each. In the 2012 town budget, Runion said, “We’ve moved some full-time park employees to seasonal, and we’ve not filled some positions.”
The town board made these one-year appointments (unless noted otherwise) by unanimous vote on Jan. 1:
Stephen Feeney, chairman of the planning board;
Herb Hennings, planning board member with a term that expires on Dec. 31, 2018;
Peter Barber, chairman of the zoning board of appeals, and member filling out Maikels’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2013;
John Wemple, chairperson and member of the environmental conservation advisory council, and members Stuart Reese, Stephen Albert, Gordon McClelland, Steven Wickham, and David Heller;
William Young, chairman and member of the industrial development agency, and members James Shahda, Michael Bopp, Christopher Bombadier, and Anthony Carrow;
Hodgson, Russ LLP, Joseph Scott of Counsel, attorney to the industrial development agency;
Dr. Don Doynow, medical director, paramedics;
Alice Begley, town historian;
Jean Cataldo, registrar of vital statistics;
Karen VanWagenen, deputy registrar of vital statistics;
Rosemary Centi, passport agent;
Richard Sherwood, town attorney, with a term that expires on Dec. 31, 2013;
Janet Thayer, deputy town attorney, zoning board of appeals; and
John Valletta, highway foreman at a salary of $62,088.
The town board also voted unanimously to:
Designate First National Bank of Scotia, First Niagra Bank, Citizens Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, Pioneer Commercial Bank, NBT Bank, and M&T Bank as official depositories;
Authorize the supervisor and comptroller to invest Certificates of Deposit in any of the designated official depositories with a third party holding the securities;
Designate Boswell Engineering, Delaware Engineering, Barton and Loguidice, Clough Harbor, Ingalls & Associates, LLP, and Spectra Engineering as town designated engineers;
Establish mileage rate to coincide with the federal Internal Revenue Service approved rate per mile for reimbursement to town employees when authorized to use their private vehicles on town business;
Authorize the highway superintendent and the superintendent of water and wastewater management to spend up to $2,000 per year for the purchase of tools without prior approval of the town board;
Designate the town supervisor as affirmative action officer;
Designate the town supervisor as emergency response officer;
Designate The Altamont Enterprise as the official newspaper of the town of Guilderland; and
Approve a 0-percent cost of living increase for all non-union employees and elected and appointed officials subject to eligible non-union employees receiving their longevity increase approved in the 2012 budget.
By Melissa Hale-Spencer