WARRENSBURG - There's a robust competition for the top office in town this year, with a choice between two experienced politicians seeking the supervisor post.
Former town supervisor and funeral home owner Maynard D. Baker (R,I) is challenging incumbent supervisor Kevin Geraghty (R,C), long-time officer of the local fire company, for a four-year term. For Warrensburg town board, former town planning board member and chair Bryan Rounds (R) is challenging incumbent trustees John Alexander (R ), a funeral home owner, and Joseph Barlow, R,C,I) an insurance executive.
At the center of the supervisor race are allegations by Baker that Geraghty has been extravagant with the taxpayers' money - but Geraghty disputes the charge.
Baker said that from 2005 to 2009, Geraghty increased the budget by $750,000, a hike of 28 percent. Geraghty counters that he wasn't responsible for the first year's spending plan - it was his predecessor - and the tax rate has increased only 3.8 percent per year during his tenure, a figure Baker says doesn't tell the whole story. But Geraghty added that much of the increases were due to mandated programs or expenses over which the local board doesn't wield control. He said this year's tax rate of $3.40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation is the town's lowest since 1995. But Baker said this figure needs to be evaluated in light of the taxpayers recent hikes in assessments due to revaluation.
Geraghty notes his fiscal cost-cutting has been proven as county budget officer - under his tenure this year, dozens of positions have been eliminated, and spending on programs and bureaucracy has been cut by millions of dollars. Also, he noted he has experience as an operations executive with a Fortune 500 company. Baker notes he has launched two successful funeral home enterprises.
Baker has spoken out against installing and activating water meters, saying it's an expensive proposition with upgrade costs projected at $170,000. Geraghty has countered that metered water is the responsible, fair way to charge, so people can't abuse the system under flat charges.