ANCRAM—Town Councilman Christopher Thomas often finds himself in the minority on Town Board votes, but that doesn’t stop him from speaking his peace and voting his conscience.
Mr. Thomas announced his resignation at the December 15 Town Board meeting.
After having served seven years, he said he would leave the board when he closed on the sale of his house, January 6. He plans to move to Connecticut.
The only Republican on the board, Mr. Thomas, 48, won his first term in office November 2009 and took his seat on the board January 2010. He was re-elected in 2013 and has served three years of his second four-year term. He is an area manager for Sunoco.
During his first year in office he donated his annual councilman salary, about $2,600, back to the town to help pay for new playground equipment.
He was the sole dissenting vote on a measure to maintain the town’s $7,500 annual contribution in 2017 to the Roeliff Jansen Community Library. He cited a majority of town residents having voted down two referendums on library funding in recent years. He believed the town’s donation should be cut to $5,000.
Mr. Thomas pushed for the town to notify affected owners of ridgeline and steep slope properties that the town was in the process of adopting new laws for the protection of those areas—before new laws were put in place. He has also been a proponent of using money from the budget’s fund balance at year’s end to decrease taxes rather than putting it all in the bank.
In a phone interview this week Mr. Thomas said that Town Supervisor Art Bassin “has done a good job being financially and fiscally prudent. We’ve done a lot, by paying off the new town highway garage and highway equipment upgrades.”
The councilman said he was most proud of having advocated for making the town’s summer kids’ camp free to town residents. “New York is an expensive state to live in. A break in the cost of the summer camp makes a big difference to those not able to make ends meet,” he said.
At the December meeting, Town Justice Bob Wilcox described Mr. Thomas as “a tremendous asset” to the town. In particular, because he “asked hard questions and pushed against the stream.”
Once the Thomas resignation is effective, the board could advertise for interested parties and appoint a replacement, conduct a special election or just wait until voters elect someone at the next general election in November. The board will discuss the matter further in January.
In other business the board:
• Heard from Supervisor Bassin that the town planned to send a letter of condolence to Alice and Margie Faber on the December 7 death of their mother, Doris Faber. Harold “Hal” and Doris Faber were longtime Ancram residents who donated 28 acres just outside the Ancram hamlet to the town for municipal use. The town later constructed the current Town Hall on the land. The building was completed in 2003. A town playground, walking trails and access to the Roe Jan Kill are also there. Justice Wilcox said the town had never properly recognized the Faber’s donation which was “a big deal but was treated as nothing.” Something “more appropriate than an undersized gravestone” is needed, he said referring to a marker in front of the building
• Looked at some options presented by Denise Drever for the design of “Welcome to Ancram” signs to be posted on roads leading into town. Councilwoman Madeleine Israel is heading up the sign effort. No decision about the signs was made
• Heard that Supervisor Bassin has taken over where “the Orkin man” left off. The town ended its ongoing relationship with the pest management company after finding that rotting mice carcasses had not been removed from the Town Hall in a timely manner. Mr. Bassin said that though he did not find mice hunting as satisfying as deer hunting, he was up to the challenge. With $68-worth of varmint-trapping gear purchased by Town Clerk Monica Cleveland, Mr. Bassin announced he had bagged four mice in three weeks. He called Justice Wilcox’s attention to the fact that two of the four critters had been nabbed in the justices’ chambers.
To contact Diane Valden email