PORTHENRY-Candidates for mayor in Port Henry hope to limit village spending.
Incumbent Ernie Guerin and challenger Frank Slycord agreed Port Henry residents can't afford continued tax increases during a candidates forum sponsored by the pH7 committee at the village fire house Feb. 28.
The mayoral candidates were joined at the forum by village board candidates Matthew Brassard, Frank Gilbo, Ronald Nesbitt Jr., Staley Rich and incumbent John Sheldon. Trustee Louise Belden is not running again. There are two village board seats open this year.
Village elections will be held March 15.
Moderator Jackie Viestenz of pH7 welcomed about 30 people. She gave each candidates five minutes to make a presentation and allowed 30 minutes for the public to ask questions.
Much of the discussion centered on taxes and the village budget.
Slycord said the village should stick to a budget.
"We've seen nothing but a steady increase in the tax rate in the village of Port Henry," he said. "There's out of control spending of the taxpayers' money. It's getting a little bit out of control.
"We need a clear direction for the future in Port Henry, which we have not had," he said. "We need to work with building owners to make storefront rentals affordable. They can't sit empty. We've going down a terrible road if we keep losing businesses in Port Henry.
"The bills keep going up and out of sight. We're never going to get anybody new. We took our village back, now let's make it run efficiently," Slycord said.
Paul Salerno, a Moriah town councilman and village resident, pointed out the town has never had a tax increase higher than 2 percent.
"With an 11 percent increase in last year's taxes, what is your plan to keep taxes at bay this year?" Salerno asked Guerin.
"We cut a lot of things," Guerin said. "If there's a way to cut we're going to do it."