City of Johnstown Supervisor William Waldron is slated to be become the next chairman when the Fulton County Board of Supervisors meets for its reorganizational meeting Wednesday morning.
Waldron said Friday he will accept the position if elected by his peers. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said. He would replace Michael Gendron, a city of Gloversville supervisor and one of the few supervisors ever to serve as chairman more than once.
The chairman serves a one-year term and is paid $9,880. Other supervisors are paid $7,505. Waldron is serving his third year of a four-year term on the board. This is his first term and his first time as board chairman.
The 20-member board selects a chair and a vice chair from the two cities one year and from the towns the next. The city of Johnstown is next in rotation, and the chair will be a member with the most seniority who has not served as the leader before.
This year, the vice chair will be a representative of a town who will likely serve as chair in 2014. Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper is in line to be named the vice chairwoman of the board for 2013.
As chairman, Waldron said his main priority will be to reduce county property taxes. “Fulton County has been frugal for years and the county lowered the tax rate from $20 per $1,000 assessed valuation to $8 per thousand. It has now increased to $10 per thousand, and we do not want to see it increase,” he said.
Waldron said supervisors do not want to see property taxes increase, but that the county is dealing with forces outside of its control. “All of that hinges on New York state and whether or not it will continue to increase mandates on us,” he said. The effort will be a challenge, he added.
Supervisors in Fulton County and in other counties have decried the state’s willingness to shift the cost for so-called mandated programs to the local level. The New York State Association of Counties said nine mandates account for 90 percent of the county property tax levy statewide, and that local taxes would drop dramatically without these mandates.
Waldron said Fulton County has taken steps to reduce the cost of government as a way to offset the growing costs of mandates. It has sold its nursing home and has privatized other services, like its nursing service.
“From the initial look at things, some of our costs will be decreasing, which will help,” Waldron said. “We expect to see some increases in state mandates, which will absorb any savings we achieved.”
If the state does not enact mandate relief, Waldron said Fulton County has few options to government costs. “There are not many options left. There are only a couple of things left on the table — the sheriff’s patrol and the Office for the Aging — and no one wants to touch them,” he said.
However, he added, “if we have to cut, we will make cuts.”
In Fulton County, the chairman runs the main meeting and is a voting member on each of the board committees, but holds no other major powers. The committees have their own chairs and are responsible for moving legislation to the floor for a vote by the committee of the whole.
“The chairman has the same weighted vote as all the other supervisors, and all the other supervisors have their input and we work together as a team,” Waldron said.
He said he intends to attend as many as the committee meetings as possible, “but it takes lot of your time.”
Gendron said highlights of his term included four major economic development initiatives that will add to the county’s sales tax base and increase employment. These are the CG Roxane water bottling plant under construction in Johnstown, Fage’s proposed expansion of its Greek yogurt manufacturing plant in Johnstown, the construction of Gloversville’s new Walmart Supercenter and the award of $1 million toward the proposed renovation of the Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility.
“It was a great year for me and for the county. I very much enjoyed being chair of the board,” Gendron said. He has served on the board since 1998. His first time as chairman was in 2004.
Echoing Waldron’s statement, Gendron said Fulton County has positioned itself “with our three-year financial stability plan to meet the future optimistically.” He said the county has to deal with upcoming fiscal issues on its own. “I am not going to beat the drum of mandate relief; we are not going to get any help from Albany,” he said.