GLENS FALLS — Protecting the environment and evaluating how tax revenue is distributed are two key issues in the race for Glens Falls Ward 4 county supervisor.
Stephen Baratta and Dan Bruno are facing off for a two-year seat. Incumbent Bill Loeb is not seeking re-election.
Baratta has the Democratic and Working Families lines, and Bruno has the Republican and Independence ballot lines.
In a phone interview, Baratta said he is running to bring his experience on a variety of issues including affordable housing and the environment.
Baratta is a member of a citizens group that is working to help Warren County become a zero-waste community by removing 90% of the waste out of the waste stream. Another important issue is infrastructure and upgrading sewage systems separating combined stormwater and wastewater pipes.
Baratta also believes there should be housing options for everybody and not just people at the high end or low end. Warren County could seek state and federal dollars if it wanted to build more housing units, Baratta added.
He is undecided on Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Doug Beaty’s proposal to increase the sales tax from 7% to 8% in Warren County, with the stipulation that half of the extra money be distributed to school districts to lower school taxes and the other half given to the municipalities.
Baratta said he liked the idea of more money going to schools. However, he said there may be no guarantee that districts would use the funds to lower taxes.
“We can’t give them money and tell them what to do with it,” he said.
There needs to be more discussion about how to more fairly and uniformly spread out the sales tax revenues, Baratta said.
Baratta said he would like to serve on the Public Safety Committee because he said there are some issues with how African Americans interact with law enforcement.
Baratta is a retired actor. He has served in a variety of positions, including vice president and treasurer of the Student Association of the University at Albany. He also is a member of the Glens Falls Zoning Board of Appeals.
“I have a lot of experience in government. It might not have been in making the laws, but it was certainly advocating for laws,” he said.
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Bruno said among his main priorities are to lower taxes or at least hold the line to improve the business climate.
“Make it more attractive for businesses to locate or expand here and people to stay here or move here,” he said in a recent meeting with The Post-Star’s editorial board.
Bruno said he would like to work with EDC Warren County President Edward Bartholomew to attract more industrial and commercial businesses to move to the area. The Tech Meadows industrial park off Veterans Road needs more tenants, he said.
Bruno also serves on Beaty’s Task Force 2030 group, which is trying to find out ways to keep people from moving out of the county and attract new residents.
Bruno said more discussion is needed on the sales tax proposal by Beaty, the Queensbury at-large supervisor.
“At a minimum, it gets people to talk a little more about the distribution of the sales tax,” he said.
Sales tax revenue is distributed upon assessed value, which means that smaller communities with expensive homes, such as Bolton, get more money.
Bruno said he would like to serve on the Building and Grounds Committee or the Warren County Climate Smart Committee. He said he believes the climate is changing.
“What I question is how much of that is affected by man and how much is natural or cyclical,” he said.
Bruno said he supports looking into more alternative energy sources. He has been working with a bio-refining company based in Syracuse that is looking to convert wood to pellets. Bruno said there may be opportunities for good-paying jobs.
He is in favor of using more renewables, but he does not believe they will be enough by themselves to meet the energy demand.
Bruno is a project engineer with his own Highlander Engineering Services firm. He also has been chairman of the Glens Falls Planning Board for more than 20 years.