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March 29, 2012

Letters to the Editor: March 29, 2012

Thanks for the support

On a beautifully sunny Election Day, when Cooperstown looked as perfect as advertised, about 200 people turned up to vote in a completely uncontested election. I’ve been told that in the old days of the union ticket, 30 people would cast their ballots.

As the new mayor-elect, I appreciate the support shown by each and every one of the residents who came out to vote. I’m honored and excited to take on the job, and I’m committed to do the absolute best work for this village that we all love so dearly. Thank you all.

Jeff Katz


Booan says no need to raise taxes

It has been the honor of my life to be your mayor. We have endured many complex challenges. Sometimes, we endured stormy seas, other times we celebrated great successes. Together, we have made a difference.

My goals were to keep taxes in check, find efficiency, improve quality, makeimprovements in infrastructure, and listen. Together, we have been successful.

For the past two years, the  residents have seen theseprinciples put into action. There has not been a tax increase in the past two years during my tenure as mayor.

My tentative budget for 2012-13 keeps the tax rate flat again, while increasing street repair, upgrading equipment in the streets department and at Doubleday, and paves the way for future infrastructure improvements.

In addition to keeping the tax rate flat, we have finished with budget surplus, further validating the need to not  raise taxes, nor the need tocreate additional revenue streams for any function of government. Raising taxes or creating additional revenue streams only serve to alienate local residents, regional shoppers and contribute to the declining population of our area. We can improve quality of life without raising taxes that stall economic growth and quality of life.

Over the past few years, I have worked with others on our board and in our community to bring the Intermodal Project to construction phase.

Work has begun and shortly we will have a modern parking facility that will support  our trolley system, relieveparking congestion, provide for improved safety, improve Linden Avenue, and allow those that work in the Village an additional place to park. Over the past few years, we have made improvements to 22 Main St., our village hall.

We have replaced sections of the roof and completely replaced the front porch eliminating a hazard and making the entrance safe. We addressed air quality at 22 Main.

More work will be needed to maintain this historic facility.

A significant goal of mine has been to improve infrastructure. Together with select members of the board and the maintenance committee, we have significantly improved street conditions on Fair, Beaver, Chestnut, Brooklyn, Lake, Spring, Fernleigh, Maple and Grove. My tentative budget for FY12-13 has increased street repair (to $350,000) and will target Delaware, Beaver, Chestnut, Pioneer, Susquehanna, Estli, and Grove. Once completed, our trustees can put us on a  10-year street cycle wherebythree to four streets can be replaced every 10 years. This can be accomplished without raising taxes.

I am very proud that we have begun a Main Street sidewalk renovation plan to completely replace the deteriorating sidewalks in our business district including repairing all lampposts.

We must invest in our downtown to keep it a vibrant and attractive village center. Main Street is the face of Cooperstown.

I am also proud that we have addressed wastewater management (sewer trunk line repair) along Walnut. This upgrade is also in process and scheduled to be completed soon.

I leave with our street,  water, equipment,and sewerreserves healthy. There is in excess of $2.5 million in total reserves. The trustees can continue to fund these  reserves at modest rates toaccomplish infrastructure goals. Infrastructure upgrades remain a top priority in our village and funding reserves must be balanced with intelligent appropriations to fiscal budgets to maintain quality of life. We must continue to work hard and smart to maintain infrastructure integrity.

I am proud that trustee work has been focused to  goals. Goals have led to collaborationwith the county on the trolley system, a serious  look at reducing costs in employeehealth care, organized street repair, and a personnel audit.The creation of the economic sustainability committee last year should serve to help guide trustee decisions to keep Cooperstown a sustainable community.Data must be utilized when making fiscal decisions, but balanced with keeping Cooperstown a unique village in New York.

The creation of the environmental conservation committee has already produced a strong vision statement, which helps protect our local environment.

Not every plan was a success. As you know, I began exploration of the potential to modify our police department. Change can be uncomfortable.

I remain convinced that there are significant savings to our residents to  be found, while maintainingthe highest quality of safety in the village. Modifications can take place in the form of re-structuring.

For example, the trustees have modified the job description of the chief of police to include patrol coverage.

This change will save personnel costs while not sacrificing safety. Further restructuring is necessary, whether through staffing modifications, innovative scheduling, or collaboration with Otsego County, to find efficiency. This can and should be done.

I leave with significant accomplishments, and remain hopeful that our board of trustees will continue down the path of fiscal responsibility,  infrastructure improvement,and continued improvement in quality of life for residents. Keeping taxes in check is and will continue to be a significant key to success.

To be elected by the residents of this community has been one of the most gratifying and humbling experiences. I am in debt to your generous support over my term as trustee and mayor, and thank you for your kindness. Many have lent kind words of support, advice, and encouragement. I leave the village in a better position than when I entered.

Thank you for your help and care in making this village a special place to live and work.

The village of Cooperstown is a great community. We should never lose sight of our common values. We must work together to preserve those things that are important to us; and do so with respect and trust for each other.

Joe Booan