Michael Villa is the incumbent candidate for the position of City of Amsterdam Mayor. He faces challenger Michael Cinquanti. Villa will appear on the Republican party line for city voters on election day, November 5, 2019.
Villa started work at Coleco in the customer service department in the early 1980’s and was then promoted to a production controller. In 1985, the frequent layoffs at the company compelled him to seek out more stable employment. He decided to take the police officer’s exam and was hired at the APD soon after where he served for approximately 20 years. During his time there, he served as both a union president and vice president. Most recently, Villa worked on a contractual basis for Montgomery County Social Services as a welfare fraud investigator.
On the issues
- Question: What specific steps must the city take to correct the problem of over-estimation of revenues and under-estimation of expenses?
Answer: Outside of the sewer and golf funds, we saw a decrease in our general fund balance deficit by 40% according to numbers from the 2018-2019 AUD. In regards to the golf course – when we get a fully functional clubhouse next spring and we have a secondary venue, I am very confident of the revenue stream that will be created, that we will be able to sustain costs up there. The sewer fund is a work in progress because of the increase in transferring our sludge waste. Also, with 100 year old infrastructure, we can’t say we’re not going to have a sewer break.
- Question: What are the next steps the city needs to take to correct the fund balance deficit problem?
Answer: We will pursue deficit financing. We have to increase our revenues, and at the same time we’re going to have to really monitor our expenses. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. If you look at the major components of the budget – the police and fire departments have done well. Last year with department of public works, obviously we had a tough winter. You can’t always predict exactly how much you will need but we try to do the best we can.
Health insurance is always that one caveat that you can’t always come to an exact number on. This past year, when we prepared the budget, we tried to very carefully look at health insurance and the different possibilities that were out there. We delayed submitting our budget by a week in order to try to get a complete handle on that as best as we could. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that maintains within the budget.
We will continue to work with the New York State Reconstruction Board. We are still waiting for the governor to sign the bill to certify the deficit. I did send him a letter, he did respond to me, but I didn’t get an answer on when he’s going to sign it. I keep checking in with Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and Senator George Amedore.
- Question: Where do you currently stand on moving forward (or not) on the KCG Development residential project?
Answer: The city is prepared to do whatever is necessary to get that site occupied. KCG Development has the option to resubmit their application for low income housing tax credits with New York State. There is also an issue with the Empire State Development corporation. We have not gotten an award letter for the $1 million for the banquet facility. The funding was initially announced a year and a half ago, but until the city receives an award letter, it’s just talk. So it’s up in the air and I have to keep all my options on the table. We have to be prepared to do a revised market study to try and determine where we’re going go, who we’re going to seek out if this does not eventually go through. We’ve had discussions with ESD, but it’s up in the upper state hierarchy, it’s above and beyond my head. Without that grant, I don’t know how we would overcome that loss. We won’t say if we don’t get it, we’re just going to give up – we’re going to continue. KCG Development has not backed out of the project.
- Question: What have been the top 3 successes for your term in the past year?
Answer: First, getting the finances uncovered, and hiring a deputy controller, and now being able to file AUD’s on time. I give a lot of credit to the 2016 council that stepped up and hired an accounting firm that was independent of anybody who was around here and did what had to be done.
I said back when I first ran that we have to have a hotel. We have all these businesses on Route 5s and no executive can stay here. Getting that done and working with the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency was a huge success.
Finally, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The state doesn’t give you that grant because they feel sorry for you. You get the DRI because they think you are going in the right direction. And that’s a credit to the staff that we had and currently have in place, working together, growing the waterfront, making us open and accessible with the events. We took the bridge, we made it our centerpiece and grew everything around it and the success has followed and that’s thanks to a lot of people.
- Question: What are your top 3 goals if elected to another term?
Answer: First, the successful implementation of the DRI, coupled with the ten consolidated funding applications that Community and Economic Development Director Amanda Bearcroft submitted to support these projects.
Secondly, attain the funding for a revised comprehensive plan for the next 10-12 years, so that whoever comes in to replace me has a guide, the vision to carry what we started forward. Also to work on a local waterfront revitalization plan to see how we can grow our waterfront over the next ten years.
Finally, developing the Chalmers property. We have got to provide affordable workforce housing because we are losing people. 50-70% of the employees in the area don’t live here. We need to have them work here, live here, and spend here. That’s what has to happen to grow our tax base. People don’t want to live in two-family houses any more, they want affordable modern housing and we have to provide it if we are to grow. That’s the reality. Some people don’t want to accept it but, you have to have workforce housing.