Lee Carman

Lee Carman

GUILDERLAND — Lee Carman, a Republican, is stepping down from his role as an Albany County Legislator representing the 29th District, after three terms, to run for a seat on the town board.

He made a run for the board in 2013, but lost to Democatic incumbents Paul Pastore and Patricia Slavick.

He said he ran for the board two years ago because he wanted to help his community, and he is making another run for the same reason.

He currently works as the vice president of financing for Kinderhook Bank.

“I think the ordinance is a step in the right direction,” said Carman, of the local law passed to require accountability from owners of vacant buildings.

If it is a law, he said, the town can legally send out a notice alerting the owner that an expense will be incurred on his or her behalf, and a lien can be put on the property if the owner does not cooperate.

“However, I think it is ignoring a bigger issue, which is: Why do we have vacant buildings and why don’t people come in and buy them and put them back on the tax rolls?” he questioned. “I think our town isn’t business friendly.”

There is no consistency, he said, about which businesses are allowed to come in and which businesses aren’t.

“I hear a lot of saying things are a good idea, but nothing gets done,” Carman said. “It’s like appeasing people just to get a foot in the door and then pushing them away.”

Some of the business owners are people who live in the community, he said.

“They are your neighbors and you have to treat them with respect,” he said. “Treating them with respect gets the ball rolling in the right direction.”

People have to be willing to invest in the community, and fair treatment would be a benefit to the businesses, town, and taxpayers, said Carman.

“What if we really promoted local businesses and pride in the community?” he asked. “That would be awesome.”

He said he commends the current administration for keeping the tax rate down, but feels there are “two pieces to the tax puzzle.”

One is the tax rate and the other is assessed value.

“All of these properties have been reassessed, which allowed them to keep the tax rates down, because everybody’s assessments went up,” he said. “So, taxes did increase; the town tax rate may not have, but overall taxes did.”

“This may have been necessary, but let’s have full disclosure,” continued Carman.

The town needs to look at places where costs can be cut or where revenues can be increased.

“We could revitalize those vacant businesses and get them on the tax rolls, or put retail businesses in there that contribute to sales tax revenues,” he said.

Two years ago, said Carman, he ran a campaign that emphasized solar energy.

“I obviously believe in alternate sources of energy, doing studies to see what really works, and seeing where we can save money without spending a lot of money,” he said.

If you have to spend some money that will quickly be recouped and will save more money in the future, that’s something to consider, he said.

“I’m all for looking at alternatives for things that are truly efficient and save money,” said Carman.

“It’s all about a community effort,” he said.

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