Schenectady County

Fire department among the key issues in Scotia trustee races

Managing the Fire Department, preserving village services and exploring collaboration with Glenville

Managing the Fire Department, preserving village services and exploring collaboration with Glenville are all issues facing the village.

Two four-year seats on the Board of Trustees are up for election. Republicans Armon Benny and Carol Carpenter are seeking re-election. They are being challenged by Democrats Thomas Gifford and Andrew Kohout.


Benny said he wants the board to hold the line on spending. “The taxpayers and residents of Scotia like everyone else are suffering a great deal. We’re going to need to make very hard service decisions rather than keep taking their money.”

The village needs to redouble its efforts to find ways to explore collaborating and consolidating with Glenville and Schenectady County, Benny said. He would like to explore collaboration with Schenectady to give residents paramedic service, which the fire department cannot provide currently.

Benny has criticized what he sees as abuse of sick time by firefighters and then setting their own work schedules. All options should be on the table including having Schenectady take over management operations. Building a new firehouse is “not in the economic cards.”

Benny is pleased the village implemented an ordinance to collect information from rental property owners who live outside Scotia. It has also undertaken a street paving program. He said having well-maintained properties affects the market value of all homes. He would like to see the village continue adding sidewalks where they are needed.

Benny said he raises concerns about the long-term consequences of any board action. “If you make decision A, and B and C happen, what will you do?”


Carol Carpenter said she is running for a second term to continue to serve the community and continue some ongoing projects.

One such project is stabilizing the Mohawk River shoreline at Freedom Park. The village is waiting to receive a grant for more than $900,000 to restore eroded areas and enhance the park with amenities such as handicapped accessible fishing areas.

She also wants to continue efforts to improve quality of life elements.

“We don’t want our neighborhoods deteriorating because absentee landlords or homeowners are not keeping up their properties. The charm of our village is going to go away if we allow property maintenance to fall by the wayside,” she said.

Regarding the fire department, Carpenter said the new chief will maintain better oversight over use of overtime. She does not presently support efforts to contract out fire management services to Schenectady.

Carpenter said the village should acquire property so it can build a new building. There are more options for housing the fire service if the idea to house both Scotia and Glenville police departments under one roof moves forward.

The village should continue with its sidewalk replacement and street paving programs. It has to be prudent with its spending. “I’m sure people want a lot of things, but in this tough economic times we have, we really have to be very prudent with our spending.”


Thomas Gifford said he is running because he believes people are unhappy with the treatment they are receiving from the village board. He particularly thinks the fire department has been put under a microscope for no reason.

“I don’t think people need to be micromanaged all the time,” he said.

He cited one example of the fire chief having to go to the board to get permission to buy gloves.

Gifford does not support contracting out management of the fire department to Schenectady and said the board should hire more firefighters now to get them up to full strength to prepare for another retirement.

Gifford’s other top goals are to keep the village a nice place to live while keeping government costs under control.

“I very much feel that we need our own fire department, police department and parks because those things are done differently by the village people than the town people,” he said.

He said the village needs to address the fire and police department building. He thinks the easiest option is to move the police department out of its space to somewhere else on Mohawk Avenue and expand the fire department and clerk’s office in the existing building. He is leery of a proposal to operate a joint police headquarters with Glenville because he believes police need a presence in the village where people can walk in and talk to officers.


Andrew Kohout said he is running for the Board of Trustees to continue his involvement in government after having served on the Planning Board and Zoning Board. He wants to address quality-of-life issues like paving roads and making sure the village has a pleasant looking downtown without vacant storefronts.

Kohout said he believes he can use his architectural background as the village seeks to find an attractive retail business like a restaurant to replace the currently vacant McDonald’s on Mohawk Avenue. “Not only does it help our appearance and make people feel good about our village, it also helps with taxes. It’s expanding our tax base,” he said.

He believes the fire department is generally doing a good job but is understaffed. He acknowledges there have been questions about improper use of overtime and vacation days that the union has denied. He believes the truth lies in the middle.

Kohout said he has concerns about the firehouse but likes the location. If the police and village offices were relocated, it would free up space for the fire. The idea of a shared police center is an intriguing idea, Kohout said. However, it would have to be in a central location.

He said he and his running mate, Gifford, feel strongly about the village maintaining its own police and fire departments.

“It’s something that’s unique for Scotia and the majority of residents appreciate,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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