Pat Russo is the incumbent candidate for the first ward city council position. He faces challenger Ken Mazur. Russo will appear on the Republican and Conservative party lines.
After graduating from Amsterdam High School in 2003, Russo went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in information technology from SUNY Morrisville. Currently he works as a cyber security salesperson for Unisys.
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: This year we actually did pretty good. I looked at the last report that we got, we were still under budget. Sometimes we under estimate revenues, such as in the water or sewer fund or from the ambulance service. The expenses in the sewer we couldn’t anticipate because stuff broke, it’s all old infrastructure. That was a hard one to judge because we didn’t know what was going to break.
We also have a new city engineer coming on who is going to utilize the city employees more often instead of contracting it out.
Question: What are the next steps the city needs to take to correct the fund balance deficit problem?
Answer: In the last budget, we set the tax rate to generate a surplus in the general fund which will eat into our deficit. It’s not going to take care of it over night but at least it’s a start. We need to find new sources of revenue. The large projects going up in the city, such as the hotel on Route 5s and the proposed residential project on East Main Street will generate large one-time fees for building permits.
Question: Where do you currently stand on moving forward (or not) on the KCG Development residential project?
Answer: Right now it’s in the hands of New York State. They denied the low income housing tax credits for the project. We still need affordable housing. We haven’t had any other interest in the site. We’ll see what the state comes back with. I’m still for it as long as they have proper laundry facilities and amenities. I believe they should have in-unit laundry hookups.
Question: What have been the top successes for your term in the past year?
Answer: The road paving project was done successfully this year. At least since I’ve been in office, I’ve held the contractor accountable for the quality of their work. Our city events – I support every event in the city.
Question: What are your goals if elected to another term?
Answer: We have legislation coming up this year that will levy a fine of $1000 per year for the first year on properties that are vacant and abandoned. The fine would go up to $2000 the second year. There would be an exemption for owners trying to rehabilitate their properties. The property owners and the banks need to do something other than leaving their properties sitting around doing nothing. The fine would be added to the property tax bill.
I’d like to see increased street sweeping, that’s a big complaint that I have around town. Continuing the road program. I would like to utilize some of the water fund to do additional road paving beyond what New York State pays for every year.
I’d also like to have a registry for non-owner-occupied homes where they have to register with the city and be inspected every year by the codes department or fire department to say that they’re up to code and livable to try to address the blight in the city. Many municipalities around us do that. I think we can do it with current staff.