Candidates would bring change to Barre town government
Barre residents, we, the Citizens for Change candidates, want to serve all residents of Barre. We are excited to share some details and information with you to explain how we will make positive changes.
#1- Better Communication with Residents of Barre. The Town Board’s current forms of communication are the Batavia Daily, the Town Website, and Town Hall. We believe that these three methods leave many of our community unaware and uninformed. We would like to look at options that would not cost any more money, but that would improve communication with Barre residents.
For example, there are free text messaging services that could notify residents of special meetings or public hearings that are scheduled, if residents opted in to receive these notifications. Additionally, we will offer those updates through email at no additional cost. We will also look at sharing information on the Orleans Hub, or other sources, that would help keep the residents better informed.
An example of why communication needs to be improved: On the evening of Sunday, June 23, 2019, a post was made to the Town website that there would be a Special Town Board Meeting on Monday June 24 at 11 a.m. (the Town Hall opens at 10 a.m.) As written on the website, “There will be a special town board meeting on June 24th at 11 am to pass resolutions for the reimbursement agreement and water district #10. All are welcome.”
Providing less than 24 hours’ notice for a Town Board meeting on the Town website, and posting the notice in the Town Hall on Friday afternoon after the Town office was closed, is poor communication. In addition, when I attended this meeting, the Heritage Wind project developer and attorney were sitting at the table. Both live out of town, and I am confident that they did not set this meeting up with the same short notice as the public received. Citizens for Change would communicate better. There are other options, and Citizens for Change would like to implement them for you.
#2- Will Listen to All Residents of our Community. Sean Pogue stated, “I would like to know when we as a Town Board have not listened to the residents. Whether in meetings, face to face, phone calls or emails. We have listened and replied.” This is simply not true. A resident at our last Town Board meeting explained that he had emailed the Town in March and received no response. If you watch the Town Board meetings online, or had the opportunity to attend a meeting in person, you have seen that Town Board members, including our Supervisor, Sean Pogue, have leaned over and had brief conversations with the people sitting next to them while residents of our community are speaking. He has not given his full attention or followed up with residents about the concerns that have been brought up.
#3- Opposition to the Proposed Wind Turbine Project. Sean Pogue said, “We as a Town Board have been studying research for many years and have avoided being pushed into a fast decision. We have been bashed but believe me we are doing our due diligence.” Sean Pogue has a conflict of interest with the Heritage Wind project and he should be recusing himself from any and all actions associated with this project, including discussions and voting. He has failed to do so. Residents of Barre have requested that he recuse himself and he has not. Heritage Wind lists people who have a conflict of interest on their website.
#4- Transparency of Actions as We Work To Serve the Barre Community. Once again, having meetings behind closed doors, calling meetings last minute, and not recusing yourself when you have a conflict of interest are all reasons that many residents believe that there has not been transparency.
Article 6 of the New York State Public Officers Law is known as the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). FOIL requests have been submitted, including asking for text messages between the Town Supervisor and the Heritage Wind developer, along with information from other municipal officers, but information has not been shared or information has been omitted. This is not transparency.
#5- Alternative Tax Abatement. Citizens for Change will look into many ways to reduce our town taxes. One group of residents that could really benefit from a tax reduction are our low-income elderly. The Town of Barre is the only town in Orleans County that does not provide a tax credit to these individuals. This was brought up to the current Town Board about a year ago, but nothing has been done about it. Dawn Allen with Real Property sent the board a follow-up email about this concern, but that email was also not responded to.
#6- Work to Maintain and Preserve Home Rule in New York State. In January, the current Barre Town Board handed off their decision-making power about our town laws to state officials. Under the leadership of Sean Pogue, our Town Board made a resolution that would allow the New York State Siting Board to decide what our town laws should be regarding industrial wind turbines and the Heritage Wind project.
Please read the January 2019 Meeting Minutes and resolution that can be found on the Town of Barre website. We elected our Town Board to make the best decisions for our community and they gave that job to someone else who doesn’t live in our community.
Jerry Solazzo, Cindy Burnside and I are running for Town office because we want to serve all residents of Barre. We are running on this platform because many residents do not believe that these topics are being dealt with in the best interest of our Town. We hear you and want to represent you.
Kerri (McKenna) Richardson