By Doug Foster
I would like to speak about the proposed administrator position, why I support it, and why I will not be applying for the job.
Nyack is at a crossroads. We can have a dark future with years of stagnation, disinvestment and large tax increases. Alternatively, Nyack can have a bright future with a solid financial foundation for one of Hudson Valley’s premier places to live and shop, appreciate the arts, explore nature, and enjoy a variety of recreational activities.
We find ourselves at a financial crossroads due to the economic crash which left us in a deep budgetary hole. During the good times over much of the last 10 years, our village government did not establish a ‘€œrainy day’€ reserve fund as it should. Even after last year’s tax increase of more than 9%, we were forced into unsustainable deficit spending. With anticipated further cuts to state aide and pessimistic projections from other revenue sources, we need to be prepared for a challenging budget this year as we dig out of this hole.
Nyack’s problems (and opportunities) are more than budgetary. Our streets, sidewalks and public facilities have suffered decades of deferred maintenance. Our new board has an ambitious agenda to implement phase I of the Main Street streetscape improvements this year, conduct the feasibility study of the Superblock and begin the process of its redevelopment, start implementing the new park plan to give better access to our precious waterfront, begin a sidewalk improvement plan, kick-start economic development on key parcels, and the list goes on. These initiatives are necessary so that Nyack becomes a place where residents, visitors, businesses, Albany and Washington will invest time and money.
The Mayor and current Village Board are spending a tremendous amount of time on these issues and others (like the marina collapsing). We can not sustain this level of involvement, and need staff support not only on our budget situation, but also on the community’s planning and infrastructure initiatives. With the retirement of our current Treasurer, we have an opportunity to find somebody with a diverse background, who is creative, experienced and a great communicator. What Nyack needs is a Village Administrator, not just a Treasurer.
To be clear, the proposed administrator position, if created, will NOT be adding a new person onto our payroll; it will be an in-kind replacement of the outgoing Treasurer. If we just hired a new Treasurer, we would likely miss critical skill sets including organizational management, grant writing, human resources, and planning & economic development.
With the Treasurer’s last day of work just weeks away, and all his institutional history and knowledge going out the door with him, the Mayor asked if I would consider the job if it were created. Even though I had advocated for the position when running for office, I had not considered myself for the job until the Mayor asked me, but I did say I would consider it. We are committed to an open government, so after researching and confirming that this was a legal and proper process, we immediately informed the public that I would consider applying for the job.
Since then, two things have changed.
First, we have heard from some very strong administrator candidates with extraordinary qualifications. If we are able to hire any one of these candidates, the village will be well served.
Second, some people expressed the concern that this was, or had the appearance of, an “inside job” and that it was always my intention to become Village Administrator. That never was the case. We did a poor job of explaining the situation which caused many to lose faith in the process. To rebuild Nyack’s financial and physical infrastructure, we need everyone’s support, and that won’t happen if we are spending more time talking about motivations than moving forward.
Assuming the Village Board creates the position of Village Administrator, I feel confident that whichever candidate we select will be able to handle the day-to-day operations of our village as its administrator. I feel that I can best serve the village in my current capacity as Village Trustee and Deputy Mayor.
I am honored to be working with such a bright and dedicated Mayor and Village Board, and want to thank all those who supported me through the last few weeks. I look forward to being part of a community effort to realize a bright future for our Village.