By George McHugh
Coeymans Town Supervisor
Democracy will be on full display this year in the town of Coeymans. The voters of Coeymans will have the opportunity on Nov. 8, 2022, to decide the direction of our town, with two referendums on this year’s ballot.
REFERENDUM #1: “Shall the Town of Coeymans Local Law entitled: A Local Law Changing the Term of Office of the Town Supervisor from Two to Four Years, For the Term Commencing January 1, 2024, be approved?”
The Coeymans town supervisor’s term of office is currently a two-year term. Notably, this is the only elected position with a two-year term in the town of Coeymans government, village of Ravena government, and county of Albany government, as all other elected officials receive a four-year term.
As a result of the shorter term, the Coeymans town supervisor must campaign every other year. Consequently, long-term planning, long-term budgeting, and large improvement projects are difficult to plan and execute. The town board passed a local law earlier this year to change the town supervisor’s term to four years, so that better planning and budgeting as well as larger improvement projects could be contemplated. Additionally, with a four-year term the town board felt the board would maintain greater continuity and would give the town supervisor and the board ample time to actually accomplish some of the goals and projects promised on the campaign trail.
If passed, this would not affect the current term of office, but would give all future town supervisors the same four-year term that all other elected officials already enjoy in the town, village and county.
REFERENDUM#2: “Shall Bond Resolution 137-22 dated July 14, 2022 authorizing the construction of a new Coeymans Town Hall at 18 Russell Ave., Ravena, New York, including the demolition of the existing Town Hall, at an aggregate estimated maximum project cost of $7,000,000 and the issuance of serial bonds of the Town of Coeymans, Albany County, New York, in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $4,000,000 pursuant to the Local Finance Law to finance a portion of the cost thereof be approved?”
The Coeymans Town Hall was built in 1960 for the purpose of becoming an American Legion Hall. On July 18, 1968, the town of Coeymans purchased the property with the anticipation of repurposing the building from an American Legion Hall to a town hall.
Currently, this building hosts the town offices to include the Supervisor’s Office, Business Office, Town Clerk’s Office, Justice Court, Assembly Meeting Room, Sole Assessor’s Office, Building/Code Enforcement Office, Records Storage, and the Coeymans Police Department.
The building is approximately 5,500 square feet in size, consists of one floor above road grade and a basement used for offices. The current town hall is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and is not compliant with the Office of Court Administration requirements for a Justice Court.
The building has a history of flooding dating back over 25 years, which has created hazardous working conditions that includes mold, poor ventilation, air quality issues, flooding in the lower offices that has damaged records and documents, and created an unsafe condition for the public as well as town employees. In fact, in 1999 the Town Clerk’s Office was forced to relocate and rent out a nearby building for several years due to the flooding and hazardous mold conditions at town hall, and today we are in the process of relocating our Police Department, Building Department and Assessor’s Office for the same reasons.
As the town board contemplated the issue of town hall, with the assistance of the town attorney and town engineers, we looked at the following options:
- Move town offices to village hall under a lease agreement (not enough room);
- Reconstruct and add space to the existing town hall (deemed structurally unsound);
- Build a new town hall building on another property (municipal water/sewer issues);
- Build a new town hall building on the current property.
A new 12,000 square foot town hall building has been designed by the town engineers to be built on the northern end of the existing town hall property. This new state-of-the-art town hall would be code compliant in all respects, would adequately provide for all current and anticipated future town needs and services, and would provide the public and employees with a safe and effective Town Hall for generations to come.
The estimated cost for construction of the new town hall is $4,500,000. The estimated cost of demolishing and removing the current town hall building and performing the site work is $1,500,000, with a total estimated project cost of $6,000,000.
The town board, with the assistance of their accountant and bond counsel, have a plan to pay for this project, with no increase in the town tax rate. Through conservative spending and budgeting, the town currently enjoys over $3,500,000 in fund balance, which can be applied towards the total project cost, leaving a project cost balance of approximately $2,500,000. The town can borrow these funds through municipal bonds and pay them back over a 25-year amortization period. At today’s interest rates, the annual bond payment would be approximately $150,000.
The town board would have several options to pay this annual payment, none of which would need to include a property tax increase. These options could include but are not limited to sales tax reallocation, application of current PILOT payments already being received, and application of future PILOT payments already anticipated.
The town of Coeymans needs a new town hall, and thankfully we are in a financial position at this time to make it happen without raising taxes.
Coeymans is moving forward and in the right direction. Taxes are at an all-time low, industry and job opportunities are at an all-time high, town parks have never looked better, and condemned zombie properties are being restored and brought back on the tax rolls or torn down and replaced when necessary. Integrating the Sheriff Substation in the hamlet with the Coeymans Police Department in 2020 doubled police patrols in Coeymans and saved Coeymans taxpayers over $200,000 a year.
With all of this good happening in Coeymans, let’s keep Coeymans moving in the right direction and Vote YES on both Referendums! We deserve dedicated leadership and a town hall that we can all be proud to call home.
“Let’s Continue to Move Coeymans Forward Together!” Vote “YES” on Propositions #1 and #2.
By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
COEYMANS — When voters head to the polls Nov. 8, they will determine the fate of two referendums that will be on the ballot — whether the town should construct a new town hall and whether the town supervisor’s term should be extended from two years to four years.
The first proposition on the ballot will ask voters to decide whether the town should build a new town hall on the same plot of land as the current town hall at 18 Russell Ave.
The town council voted in July to construct a new town hall, but a petition was circulated in the community seeking to have the issue put to the voters in November. Enough signatures were collected on the petition to force a public referendum, so voters will decide the issue on Election Day.
Under the proposition, the town seeks approval to build a “two-story, approximately 12,000-square-foot building at 18 Russell Ave. in the Town of Coeymans, including the demolition of the existing Town Hall building, related site work, and original furnishings and equipment required for such purpose,” according to the proposition that will be on the ballot.
The project cost is capped at a maximum $7 million, with the town financing a portion of the cost of the project in an amount not to exceed $4 million.
“The remaining portion of the project cost is to be paid from other available funds,” according to the proposition posted on the Albany County Board of Elections website.
Town Supervisor George McHugh said building a new town hall would replace an “aged, outdated and inadequate Town Hall building,” and would be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Office of Court Administration.
“Thankfully, through smart budgeting and conservative fiscal spending by the current administration, Coeymans residents enjoy a healthy fund balance, which will serve us well as we can anticipate paying at least 50% of the cost of a new Town Hall with savings rather than borrowing,” McHugh said. “With proper budgeting and planning, together with the growth of our tax base, it is anticipated there will be no effect on the current town tax rate as a result of the construction of a new town hall building.”
Cindy Rowzee, who is running for town council on the Democratic ticket, organized the collection of petition signatures to force the issue to a vote. She said she wants more details on the plan and how the money would be spent.
“I went to the town board and asked for a breakdown of numbers on what the $7 million would be for and they were not able to say. I also asked for numbers on how much some of the other options they looked into would cost and they did not provide it,” Rowzee said. “I am not comfortable spending $7 million of taxpayer money without having comparisons and breakdowns. I know Supervisor McHugh keeps stating it won’t be taxpayer money, but any money that comes into the town is taxpayer money.”
The second proposition on the ballot will be the proposed extension of the town supervisor’s term.
If approved by voters, the local law — which required a mandatory permissive referendum — would extend the term of town supervisor from two years to four years. If enacted, the change would begin Jan. 1, 2024, so it would not affect the current town supervisor’s term in office.
The first term that would be impacted by the change would be the election for town supervisor that will take place Nov. 7, 2023.
The Coeymans town supervisor currently serves two-year terms. Town council members, Ravena mayor and village trustees serve four-year terms in office.
Election Day will be Nov. 8.