Belson pleased to return to public office

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Town supervisor, village mayor say they will work together

John Belson

LYNDONVILLE – John Belson appreciates the strong support from the community in Tuesday’s village mayoral election, a victory that returns him to elected office only a few months after he narrowly lost a re-election bid for Yates town supervisor.

Belson will now lead the Lyndonville village government. He has lived in the village since 1997. The village is 1 square mile with 838 residents. The village sits within the Town of Yates.

The Yates town supervisor and Lyndonville mayor work out of neighboring buildings on Main Street. The town supervisor and mayor need to work together because the town contracts with the village for fire protection and water service.

Jim Simon, the man who defeated Belson in a write-in campaign for town supervisor last November, congratulated Belson on his victory.

Simon said Belson will be a “quick study” in knowing how village government works. Belson is already well-schooled on community issues, Simon said.

The new mayor, who takes office April 1, also is familiar with town government and the Yates perspective. That should make it easier for the town as it works with the village, Simon said.

Belson was elected on Tuesday, winning 92-19 over James Tuk, the current deputy mayor.

Belson said the village struggles with a shrinking tax base. It has limited options for growing the tax base, and has many tax exempt properties, with the school district, churches, and village and town facilities.

“We’re all pressed for money,” he said.

Belson would like to boost the downtown business district. He welcomes more people to be involved in the village government and community organizations. He said service organizations, fire departments, churches and even municipal boards need more interest and participation from the community.

“The younger generation needs to be more involved,” he said. “I would like to get more public participation and involvement.”

The village elections don’t allow for much of a transition to the new elected officials. They take office on April 1, about two weeks after the election. The town elections are in early November and the new officials take office on Jan. 1, nearly a two-month transition.

With the town, the newly elected officials also don’t set the budget. That is done by the old board. The Belson-led Town Board in 2015 created the budget for 2016 that is now managed by the Simon-led Town Board.

With the village, the budgets are due before May 1. That means Belson will have a month to work on the village budget that he will then have to manage for 2016-17. At the village level, the new officials start in one of the busiest months for those elected officials. At the town level, the officials start in January, which is often a slower month.

Belson said he is ready for the challenge after the strong support in the election.

“I got a lot of energy from the residents in the village,” he said.