Supervisor Michael Joyce used his state of the town address to draw attention to Princetown’s solid financial footing and told residents his administration’s efforts will continue to improve the outlook.
Now in his second year in office, Joyce praised the Town Board for supporting measures to curb Princetown’s burgeoning legal fees, reduce spending in several departments and refinance bonds for three water districts to secure more favorable rates. He also praised an effort to reduce energy costs by installing solar panels on three municipal properties and expressed optimism that Princetown could enter an agreement with the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department to establish a substation at Town Hall.
“The new board is very focused on the future of the town and the growth of the town, while minding our fiscal responsibility,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve managed to trim our spending without jeopardizing any services.”
Joyce said the Town Board’s decision to hire private attorney Michael Cuevas should help curb the legal fees of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, the firm that represented Princetown until August 2012. He said Cuevas, who charges a flat fee of $36,000 annually, closed out last year costing less than half the average amount per month Whiteman Osterman & Hanna was billing the town during the prior eight months.
Joyce also touted the installation of solar panels at Town Hall and two of Princetown’s pump houses as an innovative way to help reduce energy costs by upward of 30 percent. The panels are being installed and maintained by a private company, which will then sell electricity back to the town at a reduced cost .
“There was no investment in material and no investment in labor,” he said.
Joyce said refinancing the debt from the town’s water districts will help save about $317,000 over the term of the bonds. And he said the act of refinancing secured the town its first-ever Standard & Poor’s credit rating: A-plus with a stable outlook.
The town could also soon enter into an agreement with Schenectady County to house deputies from the sheriff’s road patrol after a prospective location for a substation in Duanesburg fell through. Under the proposal, the county would build an addition for the road patrol at Town Hall and then help pay for the building’s utilities and maintenance.
Both Joyce and Sheriff Dominic Dagostino said there is no final deal, but Princetown’s municipal building would serve as an ideal centrally located spot for the road patrol between the western edge of the county and the main facility in the city.
Joyce said Princetown — under the guidance of his administration — is also advancing on two long-overdue endeavors: updating the comprehensive plan and town codes. In December, the Town Board allocated $15,500 to have a private company review the codes and update them to bring them into compliance with any applicable state laws and to suggest areas where they can be bolstered to mirror neighboring communities.
Joyce said the company is also digitizing the code so it can be accessed online by the time work is complete sometime in the winter of 2014. He said any changes proposed by the company will need to go through the usual process, which requires a public hearing and a Town Board vote.
Joyce is also optimistic his administration will be the one to finally adopt a comprehensive plan — an effort first launched in 2006. The draft plan was first introduced in 2009, but remained stalled for years until it too needed an update last year.
The update to the update was completed last month and submitted to the Town Board. Joyce said the approval process can now begin and anticipates it will ratified by the board before October.
“There was a good deal of compromise,” he said of the latest update.
But Joyce’s talking points didn’t resonate with everyone, especially his opponent on the Town Board. Todd Edwards blasted the supervisor for taking credit for things his administration had little role in accomplishing and accused his faction on the Town Board of being a negative force in the town.
“Day to day, there’s been a very destructive Town Board majority with a dangerous combination of ignorance and arrogance,” he said.
Edwards said Joyce’s favorable financial outlook skips over future costs the town will shortly face — like the forthcoming expense from the county’s Unified Communications Center — and doesn’t take into account lawsuits spurred by his administration. He blamed Joyce and his supporters on the board for playing politics with the town’s livelihood during an election.
“They’re just trying to create these perceptions they’re accomplishing things for the town right now to get elected,” he said.