Al Maikels

Al Maikels

Democratic incumbent Al Maikels is making his second run for the town board.

A certified public accountant in private practice, Maikels has served as a member of the zoning board of appeals; as secretary and treasurer of the Albany County Business Development Corporation; as treasurer of the Albany Airport Authority; as a chairperson of Albany County’s Industrial Development Agency; and as an Albany County Legislator representing Westmere.

“I have always had an interest in government, either in volunteer or paid positions,” said Maikels. “I will continue to bring that experience to the town board if I am re-elected.”

The town realized there were problems with vacant commercial buildings and what they call “zombie houses,” said Maikels.

“We looked around and found some legislation that appeared to withstand court challenges so we adopted it,” he said. “It is up to the building department to do the enforcement.”

Personally, he said, he believes that, if a property is empty and the basic maintenance isn’t being done by the owner, the town should step in and do the work and then bill the owner.

“If they don’t pay, then we can add the cost to their tax bill,” he said.

Maikels says his idea is to put a list of properties that are vacant and available for development up on the town’s website.

“That doesn’t mean we would force anybody to sell, but we could work a little more actively to point out places in town that are available,” he said.

Maikels said, “It may be time to go back and look at the comprehensive plan to see if it needs updating.”

The town needs to work on the perception that it’s not business-friendly, he said.

“We do provide that environment,” he said. “We just have to be proactive with any developer who comes in with a plan — we have to work with them to tell them what can go where and see what can happen.”

He said the town is as business-friendly as it can be right now, in that it offers a low tax rate, outstanding services, excellent roads, and award-winning water.

“We don’t give away any tax breaks for businesses coming in, and philosophically we can debate that, but as a rule we don’t do it,” said Maikels.

He said he takes no credit for keeping the town’s tax rate low, but, he said, he does bring his experience as an accountant to the board, and has advised other municipalities on their financial issues.

“We’ve kept the rates low by spending carefully,” he said. “The next administration will have to continue to do that because people are reluctant to see any growth in their taxes.”

The board will look at shared services and getting the best cost on anything it needs to purchase.

“Solar energy is changing dramatically and it is certainly something we can look at again in another year as technology advances,” said Maikels, as he noted that a lot of locations directly in town were ruled out for the placement of solar panels.

“Otherwise we could look at some of our town vehicles to see if we could use hybrids and stress conservation at all levels,” he said.

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