After two public hearings on the topic, one informational forum and an outpouring of concern during a privilege of the floor session, the Glenville Town Board approved a local law Wednesday night that would make the supervisor’s job full-time.
All four board members voted “yes,” while Supervisor Chris Koetzle abstained from voting on the proposal, which would set his salary at $83,000 next year. Once the resolution passed, the crowd of several dozen residents broke into applause.
“It’s been somewhat of a personal journey for me in a lot of ways,” said Koetzle right before the vote. “I feel as though we, as a town board, really thought about a proposal that was going to save money, increase efficiency and restore the supervisor’s role to what it traditionally has been. And I think this puts the supervisor back in better connection with the people, and it’s something I’ve always talked about and believed we’ve needed.”
The specific resolution that the board adopted Wednesday night was Local Law No. 8, a law that would add a new chapter to the town code making the supervisor’s position full-time and setting the office’s salary for the coming year.
Municipal Home Rule Law requires local laws be subject to a permissive referendum. This means if someone delivers a petition with about 1,200 valid signatures — 10 percent of the number of town residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election — to the town clerk by Feb. 1, the issue would then go to the public to decide.
This is a possibility, as the board received pointed criticism from some members of the public after announcing the proposal in mid-November.
The restructuring proposal was prompted after the town’s director of operations, Jamie MacFarland, announced Nov. 6 his plans to retire. The board had to consider whether to hire a replacement or look at restructuring the town’s administrative staff. Their proposal was to move the supervisor’s office to a full-time position. Koetzle, who currently receives a part-time salary of $19,152, would receive the same salary MacFarland received, and the board would eliminate MacFarland’s old position.
Opponents of the proposal complained Koetzle would get a more-than quadruple salary bump after winning an election. The Scotia-Glenville Democratic Committee, whose candidates had just lost the election, had urged residents to show up at the next Town Board meeting to voice their opposition to the proposal.
That board’s Nov. 20 meeting was packed with residents, with about half speaking against the proposal and half in support. The board then scheduled a question-and-answer session on the topic Dec. 2 and a public hearing Dec. 4. The issue was prolonged further when the town clerk inadvertently left out the date and time of the Dec. 4 public hearing. So the board adjourned that hearing and reopened it Dec. 18 to accommodate any other residents who wanted to have their say.
“We’ve gotten to this point after a lot of input from residents and a lot of consideration from this board,” Koetzle said Wednesday. “It was a very thought-out decision, but it’s one we all knew was coming at some point.”
Just two residents spoke during the re-opened public hearing Wednesday night, with one in favor of a referendum.
Glenville resident Andrew DePan said he voted for Koetzle in the recent election and believed the board was carrying the town in the right direction.
“However, I do not agree with just passing the law to make the supervisor position full-time,” he said. “I believe that should be left up to the citizens of Glenville and that a vote should be taken and they should decide whether or not this should be a full-time position.”
In other business, the board said goodbye to Councilman Alan Boulant, whose four-year term ended Wednesday.
“You’ve really been a source of strength for everyone on this board. You’ve said things that we were all really hesitant to say,” said Councilman Sid Ramotar to many chuckles.
Koetzle added: “Anything we needed from you, anytime we asked you to do something or said this project is important, you went out and got it done. You’re a doer. I wish you would put on a tie once in a while, but that’s another thing. We’re not going to miss you because I know we will see you around.”
Town councilman-elect James Martin will take Boulant’s seat on the board effective Jan. 1. He is a senior planner at the LA Group, an architectural and engineering firm in Saratoga Springs. He also chairs the board of the Glenville Local Development Corp.