In a unanimous move, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors chose town of Root Supervisor John Thayer as its last chairman at Tuesday morning’s annual organizational meeting.
The new county charter, approved by a wide margin by voters in November, will replace the current board — 15 city and town supervisors — with a nine-member legislature on Jan. 1, 2014. The board chairman will be replaced by a county executive, making Thayer the last of his kind.
“It’s a bittersweet thing,” he said. “I wasn’t necessarily in favor of the new charter, but that’s what the people wanted, and it’s an honor to be their chairman.”
Thayer took the reins of the board in October following the death of Charleston town Supervisor Shayne Walters, then the chairman.
He was a good friend of Walters’ but didn’t have much time to mourn. With a $93 million budget to perfect, he had a lot of work to do, both head of the Finance Committee and as the new board chairman.
“The end of the year is always a bear,” said Thayer, who owns CCM Transmission in Palatine Bridge and chairs several groups at his church. “It was a busy few months.”
He said it was satisfying to be elected unanimously by his peers, though.
“I like to think they chose me for 2013 because I did a good job in the last few months.”
Having been elected chairman at the start of 2013, he won’t be in charge of the Finance Committee, but there’s still a lot to do. Boosting the economy in the western half of the county is his first priority. As soon as possible, he plans to gather the supervisors, mayors, businesspeople and economic development experts of Montgomery County for a roundtable discussion.
“We have to figure out exactly what we have to offer as a county,” he said, “what kind of industry we could support, then try to attract it.”
He said the eastern half of the county is in pretty good shape in terms of industry, but unemployment is very high to the west.
Thayer will also have to deal with Otsego County’s plans to leave the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority.
With one county on its way out of the partnership, and MOSA’s contract expiring in the spring of 2014, Montgomery County will need to develop a plan soon to get rid of its trash.
He said the county is nearly ready to strike out on its own in the garbage collection industry, “but there’s still a lot to be done.”
Near the end of the year, Thayer and his colleagues will have a job never before expected of a Montgomery County board:
They’ll have to establish the salaries, committee organization and general operating structure of their replacement.
“They can’t just step in on Jan. 1 without rules of operation,” he said.
Amsterdam 3rd Ward Supervisor Ron Barone, who served under Thayer as vice-chairman since October, will also continue in that capacity.
He could not be reached Wednesday.