GHENT–The county Board of Elections is proposing a consolidation of the town’s election districts as part of the board’s ongoing efforts to make the election process in county municipalities more efficient. Democratic Election Commissioner Virginia Martin and Republican Election Commissioner Jason Nastke presented the proposal to the Ghent Town Board last week.
“We’ve been going town to town the past several years and streamlining the process,” said Mr. Nastke.
Ghent is currently divided into four election districts. The proposed map would reduce that number to three. Current Districts 3 and 4, which cover the western portion of the town would be combined. The boundary separating districts and 2 and 3 would be redrawn and moved westward to more evenly apportion the new districts.
“There a lot of different kinds of savings,” said Ms. Martin. “Every time we merge two pieces into one, everything becomes a lot simpler and less expensive.”
Ms. Martin and Mr. Nastke explained that in addition to saving money, the consolidation would cut down on the number of people needed to help with elections. Mr. Nastke said the Board of Elections has a difficult time finding people willing to work as election inspectors.
“By reducing the number of districts, we reduce the number of inspectors we need,” he said.
The same three polling sites will still be used for each district. Currently, the polling sites for Districts 1 and 2 are the Mary E. Dardess Elementary School in Chatham and the Ghent Town Hall, respectively. Residents of Districts 3 and 4 currently vote at the West Ghent Community Center and would continue to vote there, except for a small number of voters from West Ghent who would have to vote at Ghent Town Hall due to the new boundary line between districts 2 and 3. Ms. Martin said these people will be notified of their new polling sites.
Mr. Nastke said they considered abolishing one of the poll sites for further consolidation and savings, but felt that wouldn’t be fair to some of the voters.
“We don’t want people to travel further,” he said. “We want to keep the ability for people to be close to their poll site.”
The new map will be finalized in 60 to 90 days, but people can call the Board of Elections if they wish to provide feedback.
Also at the January 16 Town Board meeting, new Highway Superintendent Benjamin Perry began his term by suggesting ideas for how his department could save money.
First, he asked the board for permission to get quotes on ceiling fans for the highway garage. He said the propane bill is “quite high” because the heat rises to the ceilings. He said he took readings and found that it is 10 degrees F warmer at the top of the building.
“I’d like to see if we could get some ceiling fans put in to push the heat back down. I would like to circulate the heat down and hopefully cut our costs down in propane,” he said. “My biggest concern is trying to save money wherever we can.”
He estimates the fans could save up to $2,400 a year in heating costs. Another area where he has already begun saving the town money is pothole repair. He said the normal pothole repair material the town buys costs about $500 per ton. But he has found and already purchased material that only costs $95 per ton. He says he also plans to focus this year on roadside “ditching” to improve the way water flows off the roadways, causing less road damage.
Mr. Perry also told the board there is “quite a bit” of unused equipment in the highway garage that he would like the town to sell. Among the equipment are excess chip boxes, water pumps, an air compressor, a backhoe and a crack-sealer for driveways that he says is worth about $4,300.
“It’s useless to us,” he said. “We have ways to make money to go back into our budget so we can utilize it for equipment that we do need to make our highway more efficient.”
Town attorney Ted Guterman suggested he make a list and present it to the board.
The board voted to authorize Mr. Perry to seek quotes on ceiling fans.
In other business the board:
•Accepted Daniel Gibson’s resignation from the Zoning Board of Appeals. This leaves two openings on the board. The other was created when Michael Benvenuto left the board to take his seat as town supervisor
•Heard an update from Mr. Guterman regarding the Kinderhook Sportsmen’s Club. The attorney said said that Zoning Enforcement Officer Gil Raab had sent a violation notice to the club regarding an extension on the trap range. The club has appealed and the matter the matter will proceed at the March 12 ZBA meeting
•Heard an update from Mr. Guterman on the NYSEG power transmission line case before the state Public Service Commission (PSC). He said it’s still in “the early stages of trial,” but the PSC is looking at the town’s suggestion for a low-voltage alternative as a “viable” option
•Approved a resolution allowing the Emily Eckstrom Equine Scholarship program to hold a 5K run in Ghent. m. The run will begin at the Ghent Firehouse. The Ghent Firemen have agreed to host and assist with traffic control
•Heard Supervisor Benvenuto say there will be a public information meeting regarding the county airport on January 30 at the West Ghent Firehouse. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Mr. Benvenuto said representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration may be present.