Plattekill supervisor candidates speak out
Incumbent Republican Town Supervisor Joe Croce is being challenged by Democrat Robert Trainor in the Town of Plattekill.
They recently spoke with the Southern Ulster Times.
Democrat Robert Trainor is running for the position of Plattekill town supervisor.
Trainor has lived in Plattekill since 2008, operates a small process serving company with three part-time employees and services the Hudson Valley as far south as Long Island. Prior to starting his company, Trainor was in the EMS field for 20 years, beginning as an EMT and working up to the position of paramedic. Trainor also worked for Community Medical Transport as a quality control officer and a narcotics control officer. Trainor eventually became a station manager, in charge of 60 employees, rising to the position of southern regional director, with 100 vehicles and covering the Catskill region and south to the Bronx border in New York City. Trainor has also served as chief operating officer and chief executive officer for Ambassador Ambulance and Hudson Valley Ambulance. He also once owned a limousine business of 40 vehicles.
Trainor said he was compelled to become politically active when he realized there were no local resources for people in Plattekill who had been laid off or were the victims of corporate downsizing. He decided “to stand up and try to do something about it and take action.” Though he did not win in the last election cycle, he decided to run again because “the town is still in trouble, our [town] taxes went up 30 percent and there is still not enough to help the people. My intent is to make improvements and to make it a better place so our children can stay here.”
Trainor wants to further develop the Route 32 business district corridor to broaden the tax base.
“Instead of coming to the residents every time we need more money, we’ll have other avenues of revenue,” he said, adding that bringing retail businesses to the town will net 2 percent in sales taxes and create local jobs.
Trainor said he would invite representatives of the Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration and the Ulster County Development Corporation [UCDC] to conduct seminars and workshops in Plattekill to help people become “job ready.” He will also seek grant opportunities to help “people open little businesses.” Trainor said he will also reach out to the national Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America [NACA] that helps people purchase a home or assist them in times of financial difficulty.
“If people start seeing a brighter future they get hope and the more hope they get the better the community is,” he said. “You want people to be positive and you want the town to grow. All of these programs are not going to cost the town a dime. All it will take is the willingness and the effort to get it done for the people.”
Trainor favors making the town Planning Board a little more business friendly by utilizing information in studies that have already been done by such entities as the Department of Transportation [DOT]. He said this will help make the planning process less costly for applicants.
In the spirit of economizing, Trainor promised he would not take the additional $5,600 stipend as Budget Officer.
“This year’s Town Board said the tentative 2014 Town budget, is going to save you .33 percent. When you compare the 2014 and the 2013 budget, that’s a difference of $4,000. I’ll promise you, without changing any department, a .45 percent reduction just by taking the pay cut,” he said.
Trainor said he would pay close attention to deadlines of bonds or lines of credit on subdivisions. Trainor said, according to documentation in Town Hall records, the late Supervisor Bruce Loertscher missed the deadline to obtain $630,000 in a line of credit from the developer who abandoned his Patura Garden subdivision, despite being warned that it was coming due by residents of the neighborhood.
Trainor made a simple promise.
“I bring experience [and] I bring a willingness to make a change,” he said. “The bottom line is I bring a working class man who understands working class struggle and is willing to make the difficult decisions and fight for the working people.”
Republican Joe Croce is the incumbent town supervisor running for re-election.
Croce was born in Brooklyn but moved to Plattekill when he was a young boy and later attended high school at Our Lady of Lourdes in Poughkeepsie.
I come from a family of 14, we had nine boys and five girls. [It was] an interesting and very valuable upbringing, with many important lessons,” he said, adding that it taught him to be independent and self reliant.
Croce runs a meat delivery business from his home. He was first elected to the Town Board in 2010 and was appointed deputy supervisor by Bruce Loertscher. Upon his passing, Croce became supervisor.
Croce said he helped resolve the situation at the Patura Garden subdivision. He said he does not know all the details of the line of credit deadline issue because it happened before he was on the board. He said, however, that besides the supervisor, other members of the board should have been aware of the situation at that time. He said measures are now in place that will never allow deadlines to be missed.
“I give you my word that any letters of credit we now have will not expire,” he said. “We are notified by our software in advance; I know the safeguards are there.”
Croce said the 32 percent tax hike was only in the Town General line of the 2013 budget and residents on average did not see a steep increase in their overall tax bill. He pointed out that the county and town highway amounts were low and taxes “on a house of $200,000, an average for our town, I think was from $200 to $300.” He said the board’s tentative 2014 budget calls for a .33 percent decrease in the General Fund line, rather than the 32 percent increase that was seen this year. Croce said all of the department heads understood the present difficult economy and were “very reasonable” in their requests. He said raises for employees will be kept to a minimum, on average 1%, and no elected official will receive an increase. Croce said he will be taking $5,600 for the duties of budget officer.
Croce said the most pressing issue to him is to run the town government in a fiscally sound manner while not placing a heavy tax burden upon the residents. He said he is well aware that residents in Plattekill, who send their children to Marlboro schools, saw a 10 p;ercent increase in their school taxes “so that made it even more important in my mind that we had to keep our [town] tax increase, if we were going to have one, to a bare minimum.”
Croce said he is encouraged that the Building Department recently saw an “uptick” in permits, not all for homes, but he is hopeful this is a sign of things to come.
Croce said he expects Obamacare will have a negative monetary impact upon Plattekill, but it is still unclear to what extent. He said this will play out in the coming months as more facts and figures are released and clarified.
Croce said the town’s overall fund balance is approximately $890,000. He said over the years it has been used to lower the tax burden “and that’s what it’s there for; fund balance is the difference between assets and liabilities of this town.”
He said the town has a very healthy amount now in the fund. He said the fund balance was once nearly $3million when economic times were far better than they are today, especially in the area of mortgage tax revenues the town then received.
Croce said he brings to the job a common sense approach on offering service to the public, much like he does in his delivery business.
“I have the ability to listen. I have the ability to solve problems because when you’re dealing with customers, there are always problems in any number of ways,” he said. “My job is to keep those customers happy and solve whatever problems they bring to my door. In that respect this [supervisor’s job] is the same exact thing.”
By MARK REYNOLDS