News, Politics, and Culture from 14895

By Douglas Sciorra

Q&A with Alma Town Council candidate Paula Clayson


Clayson is on the ballot as a Republican for the November 7 election

By Andrew Harris,

Q: Once elected, what is mission #1?

A: Finishing the Town of Alma Comprehensive Plan is a priority. The completion of this plan will make grants available to the Town of Alma and is a crucial step in moving us forward to draw in investors who would bring businesses, employ residents, and increase the tax base, which could help flatten or possibly lower our taxes.

Q: Considering the last ten years of chaos in Alma’s politics: Is it time to for a more regional government? Like Alma/Willing/Independence?

A: No. Alma will be able to stabilize and flourish, in my opinion, with capable leadership and sound direction. Residents mention how they grew up in this community and want to “go back to not worrying what the town board is up to,” and I believe that is possible if the appropriate people are elected to the council seats. The town board has no right to impose limitations on other parts of our government, especially when those restrictions interfere with the public services those parts of our government offer, so instead of concentrating on agendas and the wants of a select few, the town board must work to successfully secure sources of revenue that provide taxpayers with relief and balance a budget that works for everyone.

Q: Reports indicated that the taxes in Alma are about the go up fairly dramatically. How will you help avoid that?

A: Unfortunately, I currently do not believe there is a way to avoid tax increases. Mismanagement and nonfeasance have put Alma in a financial bind that will take several years to correct, and the expectation that this burden must be put on the shoulders of the average taxpayer is unacceptable. The only way to repair this damage is to stop relying solely on taxpayers, who are already stretched to the limit. When we pay our taxes, we are entrusting the town board to optimize our investments and provide services by investing in infrastructure and designating a portion of funds to create revenue. The town receives revenue from AIM, and interest on balances in NY Class accounts, as well as funds brought in by the Highway Department through the County Snow and Ice Contract, CHIPs, POP, EWR, and PAVE-NY, but these should not be a financing source for recurring expenditures. With input from the community and the completion of the Town of Alma Comprehensive Plan, Alma could become financially stable by attracting and establishing businesses.

Q: How does Alma repair the damage done and attract new faces to the town board ?

A: The only way to undo the harm is to elect people who understand how to balance a municipal budget and the laws that have an impact on every choice the town makes. The voters can prevent it from happening again by choosing candidates who have experience with what has gone wrong, and have no agenda. This requires developing policies and procedures, submitting them to the appropriate departments, and putting them into effect. To make Alma appealing to investors, the town board needs to be filled with hardworking individuals. Once the board has shown the people that it is capable of governing without meddling in residents’ daily lives, additional individuals will show interest in joining the board.

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats

  • The people. Alma residents are some of the most amazing people I know and are an example of perseverance and resolve. Despite everything this town has been through, they still come together for cookouts, fund raisers, and reuniting lost fur-children with their families. I feel that Alma is one of the few small towns left where the people       are genuine and have big hearts, and if someone in our community is in need, they rally around them without being asked to. It comes naturally because they love this town
  • WEAKNESSES:                                            
  • Lack of leadership. In recent years, the town board has failed to adopt realistic budgets based on established trends, which has resulted in shortfalls and cuts to crucial services. The board must continuously review the budget, make necessary adjustments to avoid irrational or excessive spending throughout the year, and keep the fees for building permits and inspections to cover the costs of the Code Enforcement Officer.       
  • Voter fatigue. I have been out talking to residents over the past few weeks to get a sense of what they want, and at the last election everyone hoped for a calm and unobtrusive style of governance. Instead, after seeing four of the people they voted for resign they feel let down and feel that nothing they do will make a difference.       
  • Alma has beautiful scenery through all seasons and has the potential to capitalize on that by offering activities that coincide with each season. Hunting is a large part of our community, but we also have a snowmobile club, rod and gun club, park, playground, and the opportunity for a successful community garden and green space. We have space for festivals and craft fairs, Disc Golf and Music on the Lawn. Alma is one of the few places left where you can see the stars without pollutants obstructing your view and still hear crickets and frogs making for a potential camping destination.
    • Fiscal Instability. When current council members admit they don’t know what they’re doing during a budget workshop it is alarming and fills you with a sense of dread, offering little hope for the future of our town if this election doesn’t bring positive change.               
  • Poor Planning for the Future. The failure to follow economic trends and recognize the threat the “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act” (CLCPA) poses to Alma, and all of New York is alarming. The CLCPA imposes regulations that will ban natural gas in newly constructed buildings, beginning in 2025, ban new service to existing buildings starting in 2030, and you will not be able to replace items for your home or purchase a new car if they use fossil fuels beginning 2035. As a result of the need to upgrade current infrastructure and usage requirements, electric rates will rise. This could result in and     increase in our own utility bills and higher taxes as a result of the increased costs of running our town on a daily basis.
  • Lack of Voter Confidence. The residents of Alma have been through the wringer and now bear the burden of what poor leadership has created. The Town of Alma Code of Ethics is the best line of defense the citizens have against government overreach and malpractice, but it cannot be enforced until it is updated and properly submitted to the New York Department of State, so we run the risk of history repeating itself.                                                       

My personal message to the residents of Alma;

Since 2014, I have been observing and analyzing our local government, and I have seen how it has deteriorated. At board meetings, I have read your statements and asked your questions, but it hasn’t had much of an impact. If you choose to elect me, I will continue to represent you at meetings, but the key difference will be that through me, you will have a seat at the table, be able to speak up and be able to vote on all issues that are on the table. This election is about you, the informed Alma voter, and your choice to have your opinions and votes represented as you rightfully deserve.

ICYMI: Read Claysons recent statement about her candidacy:

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