Appointed councilman in August, Westerlo's Boone is unopposed

Joseph Boone

WESTERLO —  The town board’s newest member is hoping to stick around for at least another year.

Joseph Boone, 49,  was appointed by the board in August to occupy, until year’s end, the seat of  Theodore Lounsbury who resigned from the board early this year.  Now, to serve out the last year of Lounsbury’s unexpired term through 2017, Boone is obliged to win the seat by election in the Nov. 8 general election.  

If he decides to  seek his own three-year term next year, he must run once again in the November 2017 election.

On the Albany County voter rolls as a member of the Independence Party,  Boone was endorsed by the Democratic caucus for the town board seat prior to his appointment. He is running unopposed on the Democratic line on the Nov.  8 ballot.

In the heavily Democratic town — Democrats outnumber Republicans, 4 to 1 — Boone joined three Democrats and one Republican on the board when he was appointed.

He came to the board at an important moment in town affairs. A long-considered plan to renovate the town hall, an aged former school, to make it more modern and more functional for the purposes of town government will also be on the Nov. 8 ballot in the form of a permissive referendum asking voters to approve a $887,000 bond issue to finance the project. (See related story.)

Boone voted to authorize the borrowing at the board’s September meeting. The only dissenting vote was cast by the board’s lone Republican, Amie Burnside.

Responding by email to a series of questions posed to him by The Enterprise, Boone reflected on what course this town might take if the referendum — like a September 2015 referendum for a much larger amount, calling for a new highway garage as well as town hall renovation— is defeated.

He wrote, “We would have to re-evaluate  the project priorities and cost….Everyone is in agreement that the building needs renovation and upgrades, determining to what extent and its respective cost would be the next plan of action.”

Boone says he is not too concerned about the state of the existing highway garage: “The roof has been repaired and its projected estimated to be 6 to 10 years.” He says the state of the building can be reassessed toward the end of the roof’s life expectancy. Some town residents have expressed concern that the highway garage may pop up sooner on the town government’s fix-it list.

Some residents have also complained that the town has not done a good job communicating with the townspeople. Boone points out that “residents...have opportunities to voice concerns and issues during the open forum portion of our regularly scheduled board meetings.”

But he says, “There’s always room for improvement” and  the town is looking at ways to get more information onto the town’s website. He cautions, though, “that many residents may not have access to the internet or a computer” and so the town has to look at “additional ways to improve our communication channels.” In fact, the state program for broadband expansion defines Westerlo as an underserved area needing improved access, despite its proximity to the state capital.

Westerlo is exceptional in another regard: No town-wide assessment has been undertaken since 1950. The state-set equalization rate for Westerlo is less than 1 percent of market value.

Boone commented, “I can see where new residents moving to our town may be at a disadvantage, and, if it [evaluation] were to be revised, it would most likely impact our existing residents as well.”

Asked about the 2017 town budget, Boone said the process is new to him but he believes “the budget process is being run to the best of the board’s abilities and we’re developing...a realistic, accurate and cost-conscious budget.”

He also said he looks forward to making  a “thorough review of the town’s comprehensive plan” and to discussing it with town board and planning board members. Though approved by the town board, the comprehensive plan has yet to be codified into law.

Finally, asked about emergency medical services in the town, Boone wrote, “I am extremely grateful for the EMTs that serve our community...They do a  difficult and dangerous job, and do so with professionalism.” He said he is not familiar with arrangements made by the towns of Berne, Rensselaerville, and Voorheesville to use county EMS services, but he acknowledges that re-evaluation may be needed someday in Westerlo.

Boone is a graduate of Berne-Knox-Westerlo schools. He and his wife, Taffey McClure-Boone, have two sons currently enrolled in the high school.

Boone has been employed since last year in the inside sales department at Hannay Reels. Previously, he served in the United States Navy as a cryptologic technician; worked for 13 years for an upstate New York furniture manufacturer, and was a field service engineer and a program manager for a military contractor.

More Hilltowns News

  • Although the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District is dealing with the same economic burdens as schools across the country as well as its own cost increases in areas like insurance, Superintendent Timothy Mundell said that the district is in a good financial position due to its foresight in earlier budget cycles. 

  • Of the Hilltowns, Knox was the first town to grant the 10-percent tax exemption that New York State now allows for first responders, with the rest of the towns appearing likely to follow once they hold the required public hearings. 

  • The law, which would have allowed ATVs and other recreational vehicles to use town roadways, prompted overwhelming criticism of the board and the law at a public hearing on Feb. 20, at which Supervisor Dennis Palow had a resident removed by police despite that resident not violating any rules. The resident’s attorney has since demanded an apology from the board and threatened a lawsuit if it’s not received. 

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