Aug 31, 2011 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
The Town of Lysander Supervisor seat is open for election this year. Two candidates, incumbent Barry Bullis and opponent Fred Burtch, are competing for the Republican nomination in the Sept. 13 primary.
The Baldwinsville Messenger recently interviewed both men to get a better understanding of each candidate’s qualifications and viewpoints. The following are responses from Burtch:
Address: 8865 Plainville Road, Lysander
Education: High School Diploma – C.W. Baker High School, Baldwinsville
AS – Business Administration, SUNY at OCC
BS – Marketing, SUNY at Oswego
Graduate School – Economics, SUNY at Oswego
National Association of Security Dealers (NASD), Certified Agent
Work Experience: Baldwinsville Lawn & Snow, Independent Owner/Operator (2001-2011)
Alternative Energy Solutions, Independent Owner/Installer (2008-2011)
Burtch Farms, Manager/Operator (1995-2000)
Chappell’s Department Store, Store Manager (1991-1995)
Political Experience: This heading presumes that any and all political experience is a good thing, which it’s not. I’m proud to say that while I’ve been a registered Republican since I reached voting age, I have no political attachments that would prevent me from representing the best interests of all people in our town. In the case of Mr. Bullis, 35 years of political experience with the Lysander Republican Committee comes with a lot of baggage, including favors for political friends and fellow committee members.
Community Involvement: I’m very involved in my community by serving those who need it most. In the case of my opponent, involvement means sitting in meetings of various boards and committees. In my case, it means proactively helping the elderly and impoverished of my community by delivering free fruit, vegetables and eggs from my farm and by providing free lawn care, tree services and snow plowing services to those who can’t afford it.
What do you think are the major issues facing Lysander? How do you plan to address those issues?
The most critical issues facing Lysander represent two sides of the same coin. Since Mr. Bullis was first elected supervisor in 1995, there has been a mass exodus of large employers from our town, like the Ball Container Corporation, Arnold Transportation Services, Goetz Dolls and Hain Pure Protein (formerly Plainville Turkey Farms). Most have left because of the unfavorable business atmosphere that our current government has created here in Lysander.
It’s bad policy to unilaterally raise property tax assessments with no notice and no opportunity for negotiation. This failed policy further eroded our shrinking commercial property tax base for both the town and the school district, which is the very asset that we need to protect the most for future generations of citizens and schoolchildren. Unlike Mr. Bullis, I’ll retain our largest employers and attract new ones with pro-business economic policies and an open mind, not with higher property taxes.
What are your thoughts regarding the Transfer of Development Rights program?
The Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) has been a colossal failure for the taxpayers in Lysander. This program is yet another example of the Bullis administration’s failure to grow our property tax base while preserving our quality of life. The TDR program is meant to compensate our farmers for keeping high-quality agricultural land in production and out of the hands of developers. But, the most successful farmers in town will admit that they always reserve the best farmland for raising crops anyway, and not for building houses. They don’t need an incentive to do what’s already in their own best interests. And, the parcel chosen by the town is on an isolated peninsula, which is already disconnected from the farmer’s other property and surrounded by new housing developments. The town should have chosen a different parcel, perhaps one on the less-developed, west side of town.
The town has spent almost $300,000 dollars of our tax dollars on this program since inception about six years ago, with most of that money going to our town engineer, Barton & Loguidice, and our town attorney P. David Twichell. The founding partner of that engineering firm and our town attorney are both active members of the Lysander Republican Committee. Besides the hard work they have put into Mr. Bullis’s reelection bid, both of them have also made large contributions to his campaigns in the past.
I should mention that we have had the same town engineer and town attorney in Lysander for almost 30 years now, and I believe that this political buddy system poses a conflict of interest for the taxpayers. These political friends of Mr. Bullis nominate him to run for office, they help to get him elected, he rewards them with no-bid contracts, and then they contribute to his reelection again. This vicious cycle is great for Mr. Bullis and his political friends, but devastating for the town’s taxpayers. In the case of the TDR program, the town’s taxpayers have spent $300,000 so far, but not one farmer has received a single dime to preserve his farmland.
What are your thoughts regarding the InBev Pilot agreement?
It’s important to remember how we got into this mess in the first place and to acknowledge the consequences of doing nothing to resolve it. Years ago, Mr. Bullis instructed our prior property tax assessor to unilaterally raise Anheuser Busch’s property tax assessments with no notice and no opportunity for negotiation. Mr. Bullis has used almost a half million dollars of our town money to sue AB/InBev for their refusal to adhere to this failed policy. AB/InBev is yet another employer that we can’t afford to lose, especially in such tough economic times.
To date, the town of Lysander has done nothing but rely on the Baldwinsville Central School Board to negotiate a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement. Mr. Bullis and the town board must work with our school board immediately to negotiate a fair PILOT agreement that keeps all of these jobs here in Lysander.
How will you work to reduce the tax burden on Lysander residents?
As I’ve said, Mr. Bullis has kept residential property taxes artificially low, by pursuing a failed policy of unilaterally raising the property tax assessments of our largest employers. But, what happens when these large employers respond by migrating to other states with lower property taxes and lower utility rates, too? When companies like AB/InBev leave (and they will), we not only lose property tax payments but their high-paying jobs, too. Residential property tax rates don’t matter to unemployed homeowners, because they wind up losing their houses before they ever pay another tax bill.
Again, instead of alienating our largest employers with double-digit property tax increases, as Mr. Bullis has done, I’ll retain our largest employers and help to grow their businesses, by creating a favorable business atmosphere here in Lysander. Also, I will attract new businesses here with pro-business economic policies, plentiful resources, an educated workforce and an open mind.
Why should the voters elect you?
Lysander voters should elect me because I’m an “anti-politician.” They should elect me because I’m one of them. I’m the diametric opposite of Mr. Bullis, a professional politician who’s enriched himself, his family and his friends for the past 16 years at the expense of the people of our town.