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Meet the Candidates 2012

Meet the Candidates 2012

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Published by Daily Freeman
The Kingston Uptown Residents’ Alliance (KURA) has developed six questions that
relate to the major issues facing Kingston. These questions were based on a survey of its
membership and recent analysis. An individual letter was sent to all candidates and they
were given an opportunity to express their views for publication in the electronic media.
The Kingston Uptown Residents’ Alliance (KURA) has developed six questions that
relate to the major issues facing Kingston. These questions were based on a survey of its
membership and recent analysis. An individual letter was sent to all candidates and they
were given an opportunity to express their views for publication in the electronic media.

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Published by: Daily Freeman on Nov 02, 2011
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11/03/2011

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Meet the Candidates
Election Day: Tuesday, November 8, 2011
The Kingston Uptown Residents’ Alliance (KURA) has developed six questions thatrelate to the major issues facing Kingston. These questions were based on a survey of itsmembership and recent analysis. An individual letter was sent to all candidates and theywere given an opportunity to express their views for publication in the electronic media.The issues were:1) Kingston is not competitive because of its high taxes2) The unaffordable and unsustainable pensions and benefits3) Kingston’s failure to attract required new businesses.4) Kingston’s poor and deteriorating physical appearance5) Over assessment of Kingston properties have cost taxpayers dearly6) Kingston’s unmet potential for being a tourist destinationThe candidate’s unedited positions follow each question. The document is divided intotwo major sections the Mayoral Candidates and the Alderperson Candidates.
 
 Question #1
(for Mayoral Candidates)
 Kingston City taxes have been increasing year after year. Kingston has been identified as the city with the third highest per capita taxes in the State and a relatively low median income. Kingston’s Commercial taxes are almost double the residential taxes. Both are too high and make Kingston non-competitive. As Mayor, how do you plan to deal with this situation?- Please provide your specific plans to increase revenues.- Please provide your priorities for the reduction of expenditures.(e.g. Administrative, Police. Fire Department, DPW, Other)
Candidate: Shayne R. Gallo
With the 2 percent tax cap now in effect at every level of government, thequestion of escalating taxes will be somewhat muted moving forward. Thehomestead/no homestead tax structure can be attributed to diminishing thecompetitive advantage of Kingston, but a rapid move to equalize the tax rateswould be untenable in a down market when the assessments of all propertiesare going down. The flight of homeowners (a disproportionate number onfixed incomes given the proportion of retirees in our city which attributes tothe low/median income) who would no longer be able to keep up with property taxes would rob our business community of the very customers theydepend on to conduct business. What I will focus on as mayor is making our city an attractivelocation for families to live, work and raise their families. Attracting (and maintaining) youngfamilies in our community is essential to a healthy economy because these individuals are thenext generation of business owners, the little league coaches, and PTA leadership. We cannotexpect to attract or keep families in our community if we do not offer an attractive place to liveand that requires vital services and a desirable quality of life. My next commitment is to demandthe very best from every department and employee in the city. Throughout this campaign I havespoken with hundreds of individuals and the common theme has been that the quality of services,the responsiveness of city hall, and communication to residents is lacking. People want to knowthat the money that they spend in taxes is not wasted, that the benefits are distributed in anequitable manner, and that our departments are responsive to their needs. I cannot promise a rapidand dramatic change in the tax rates of our city, but I do commit that under my leadership our collective resources will be spent wisely in an environment of accountability and transparency.Raising revenues for our local government during a national economic downturn is not going to be easy. What I don’t support are policies, such as the privatization of trash collection where theaverage resident would not see any decline in their tax bill, but would be required to fund a private hauler at upwards of $500/year. I do want to better explore how we can maximize theeconomic benefit of our transfer station because I do not believe that we are fully utilizing thisresource. Additionally, I want to study the viability of developing a city ambulance corps, thatcould work in coordination with our private services, as other communities across the state havedone to offset the cost of handling medical calls. Currently almost 50 percent of all fire calls are
 
medical and we are not legally allowed to be reimbursed by private or public insurance programsfor any part of that expense. A full cost/benefit analysis must be undertaken to determine if theinitial startup costs could justify such a move. I would also like to reallocate personnel in the police department to make sure there is the proper balance between administrative personnel and patrol officers. If I am elected, I would like to put together a transition team that will conducting a360 degree efficiency analysis of every department and service to examine redundancies and seek out cost savings so that on January 1, 2012 I am ready to put into effect the type of changes weneed to run a more efficient and effective organization.
Candidate: Ron Polacco
One of the ways I will alleviate the current tax situation is by cutting budgetary spending and working to expand the tax base in the City. Thiswill lower the tax burden for all taxpayers. I realize that economicrevitalization and a fiscally responsible city government are the keys tohelping Kingston rebound and thrive as a prosperous City.
Candidate: Richard T. Cahill
 In order to deal with rising property taxes, the next Mayor must identify realspending cuts. Unlike federal income taxes, which can generate extrarevenue by cutting the rate, city property taxes, by their regressive nature,cannot. As such, only spending reductions will allow for a reduction.I have identified numerous areas where cuts may be made. I have not yetfinished reviewing the 2012 budget proposal recently submitted by Mayor Sottile. To give you some idea of the nature of my proposed cuts, I amincluding my budget proposals* I actually submitted during the 2011 budget process. Almost all of the same concepts apply, though the numbers may beslightly different. (The Account numbers and line numbers are set forth in the 2011 budget proposal.)* EDITOR’S NOTE: Detailed, line by line recommendations for budget reductions, based onMr. Cahill’s 2011 budget, are included in Appendix A.Central Purchasing :Eliminate the entire department (saves $59,828.00) There is no need for this position. There isno reason why each department head cannot make the necessary purchases for his or her department. All receipts for purchases would of course be filed with the City Comptroller toallow for proper auditing.Economic Development Office:Eliminate the entire department (saves $173,639.00) For years, we have dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the city’s Economic Development Department. In the most recent budget, the total expenditures for this department totaled nearly two hundred thousand

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