Candidates running to lead the Village of Cobleskill as its next mayor bring two different perspectives to the campaign.
Deputy Mayor Alexander “Sandy” MacKay has served as both a village trustee and Planning Board member.
Political newcomer Mark Nadeau has experienced government in action — action he describes more as inaction that’s stymied growth in his hometown.
MacKay, municipal consultant who worked for 20 years at Lamont Engineers, said two studies that are taking place in tandem are critical issues that have to be addressed before the village can realize its full potential.
Some members of the Village Board sought to get consolidation into the town of Cobleskill on the ballot for this year, a move he believes is premature because of the need to fully explore the issues.
That form of consolidation might not bring needed revenue to Cobleskill, MacKay said.
But changing the town and village into the City of Cobleskill, MacKay said, would yield more revenue and help lighten the tax burden for residents.
“City status has a couple of advantages. We are the biggest community and the commercial center in Schoharie County,” said MacKay, who served on the board of the Cobleskill Partnership Inc. for 10 years and also on the SUNY Cobleskill Foundation.
MacKay, a village trustee for the past four years and a former six-year member of the Planning Board, said the village produces roughly two-thirds of the sales tax revenue brought into the county but only gets about $85,000 out of roughly $8 million in sales tax its businesses generate.
“If we were a city, we would be entitled to pre-empt a portion of the sales tax,” MacKay said.
MacKay said other advantages that might make city status appealing include eliminating the cost of town and village courts, which would be paid for by the state.
Difficult relations between the town and village, he said, could be alleviated through better cooperation and, ultimately, a resolution to the issue of finances.
“It comes back to the issue of sales tax,” MacKay said.
MacKay said if elected Mayor, he intends to pursue a multi-village sewage sludge compost proposal, fuel-efficient police cars and the use of solar power at the sewer plant, an initiative that failed to get grant funding recently.
“I haven’t given up on it. We just have to figure out another way to do it,” MacKay said.
The village Board of Trustees, he said, has been dysfunctional and prone to snap judgments, and it “needs to get back on an even keel.”
Nadeau said the village of Cobleskill has undergone plenty of planning and studying and he believes it’s time the village changes its approach.
He said officials in the village spend more time finding ways to stymie growth and development than they do finding ways to make it happen.
“Government needs to be run like a business. Why not let a businessman run it?” said Nadeau, who said he’s been involved in numerous building projects throughout Cobleskill.
“The local planning boards have just gotten out of control. There’s no willingness to bring business in. It’s ‘how we can’t do stuff,’ ” he said.
Nadeau said he might as well be considered unemployed for the past four years, because one of his development projects just outside the village was stalled while officials sought to annex the property into the village before the project could get sewer and water services that come from the village.
That type of attitude, Nadeau said, is hurting families that planned to move into the new homes but are now in limbo or simply looking elsewhere.
Arguments over sewer and water services, Nadeau said, cost the community about 30 jobs that would have been created if Lowe’s built a new facility there.
“For three years they tied them up with bureaucracy. Don’t tell me how we can’t do it, tell me how we can,” Nadeau said.
Difficulties businesses face looking to get established, Nadeau said, are also contributing to local unemployment rates.
“We need every possible job we can get here,” Nadeau said.
If elected, Nadeau said he will pursue the development of a joint comprehensive plan between the village and the town of Cobleskill.
“We can work together to solve our community’s problems,” Nadeau said.