CHATHAM – Village Mayor Paul Boehme has served on the board since 1980 and except for two years in the early 1990s, has been mayor since 1985. He is running again for the two-year term this March on the Village People’s Party line. Elections will be held at the Tracy Memorial from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday March 15.
Mr. Boehme has competition this election season. A group of residents have formed the Chatham United party and placed Tom Curran on the ballot for mayor. There are also two trustee seats open. Incumbents Lael Locke, running on the Action Party line, and Patrick Wemitt, running in the mayor’s party, and newcomer Joanne DelRossi, with Chatham United, are looking to fill those seats.
Mr. Boehme was born in New York City, but moved there in the 5th grade and has lived in the village ever since. He worked for the state for many years in the insurance department in accounting, he said during an interview the Columbia Paper on Thursday, March 3. He said ever since his family moved to the village they have been very involved in volunteering for Fire Department. His younger brother, Kevin, is the village’s police chief.
Because of his accounting background, Mr. Boehme said a major issue for him as mayor is keeping the budget low so taxes are not too high. Since 2000, he said, the tax increase has been less the 2%. He said that’s because “of a lot of hard work on our part.”
He does acknowledge that in the current year’s budget (the village fiscal year is June 1 to May 31) the increase is much higher because the village did major road and drainage work that piggybacked on state drainage work done by the state around the village from 2008 through last fall. He said doing that work, like upgrades to the drainage on Thomas and School streets and paving of village roads, along with the state work meant tremendous savings. “These are things that cost money,” he said of the work.
Now the village is looking at funding a $2-million sanitary sewer system upgrade project. The mayor said that applications are at the state now for funding, and there are still some decisions to be made about engineering on the project. “We want to get the best deal on this project,” said Mr. Boehme.
The mayor said that doing the upgrades will result in a system that will last for another 100 years. Major projects likes the retirement community being built by Camphill Village on Route 66 in Ghent and the possibility of new Price Chopper supermarket being hooked up the village water system will help pay for the project. Neither project is hooking up to the sewer system, but both want to use village water. He also stressed that sewer rates in the village are very low.
Keeping taxes low but maintaining services are parts of the mayor’s election platform. “You have to look at what you’re doing away with if you cut things,” he said. He is supports having a 24-hour village police force. He talked about being pro-business and working for more parking in the village and creating parking behind the buildings on Main Street next to the railroad tracks.
“I want this to be a village for the people,” he said, adding “all the people.” He said he wants villagers to feel comfortable walking the streets at night, with sidewalks cleared of snow and a foot patrol to protect them.