The November election is less than two weeks away. Candidates for town board discussed where they stand on taxes, term limits, and the state audit among other issues at the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce's debate on Monday.
The first question was about the , which was released in August.
The candidates, incumbents and , as well as business owner and first-timer Rich Campanero were asked if they thought the findings were fair and if they would support an investigation by the Attorney General's Office.
Bianco and Martorano said 80 percent of the recommendations have already been corrected and called it "constructive criticism."
"There are some things in the audit report that are wrong," Bianco said referring to credit cards and added the town only had one credit card for the police department for gas.
Campanero said he was "alarmed" by the findings and said the rest of the 20 percent of the recommendations should also be addressed. All candidates said they would support an investigation or a public forum if voters wanted it.
The question of what will the candidates do to stay within the 2-percent tax cap, which was enacted in June by the state legislature as a way to control spending, was also brought up.
Paganelli said the town would have to generate more income or cut expense to stay within the tax cap. He said he is proposing a combination of both.
"Property taxes are killing us," Martorano said. "They are just too high. But it's not the town that is killing us. It's the schools, 70 percent, county has a large chunk. The town has a very small percentage, but we can do better."
In term of the tax cap, Martorano said it's a cap on the levy and gave an example with the garbage costs going up $1 million.
"Right there the levy will kill the cap just on the garbage alone," he said. "Unless you want to eliminate the garbage in the town, we will never be able to fulfill that obligation in terms of the tax levy cap. In terms of the overall tax cap, you can do it. We've been doing it for over 16 years."
On the question if the candidates think Yorktown should consolidate departments to create a Department of Public Works and if the person in charge should be elected or appointed, they all agreed. They said they would be in favor of consolidating to save money and said the person should be appointed by town board members rather than being elected.
"Consolidation of services will save us big money," Campanero said. "They will save man hours and will put the right people in the right positions."
Candidates were asked what changes they would make once elected into office and if they would change the role of the current supervisor position into a town manager.
"Saying that as soon as I go in there and make changes, that's foolish," Campanero said. "Before you make a decision, you need to see where the problem lies."
Bianco said if reelected he would "do just what [he's] doing all the time" -- listening to people. Campanero and Bianco said they were in favor of having a full time supervisor position. Martorano said he would work on fixing the infrastructure, having a "strong" environmental protection, and fighting drug problems in town.
"I don't think we need another level of government," Bianco said on the question of having a town manager. "Voters would like to have someone elected as a supervisor, rather than having someone appointed as a manager."
Paganelli said there was confusion that a town manager would not be a full-time position. He said board members serve the people and he would rather ask residents whether they would want a supervisor or town manager.
"I would form a committee if constituents wanted it brought up to a referendum," he said. "I would put it on as a referendum and it's you deciding if you want a town supervisor or manager, not anybody sitting here."
"There are pros and cons to a town manager," Martorano said. "A town manager can take politics out managing the town. On the other hand are they accountable? So I think we need to talk more about a town manager."
Other questions dealt with businesses, open spaces, selling the , opening the on Sundays, freezing taxes for the seniors and increasing taxes to finance the town's infrastructure.
They all agreed the town should support businesses and that freezing taxes for the seniors is more complicated than people think and would not be possible. Campanero, Bianco, Martorano and Paganelli said they are not in favor of raising taxes.
"If our cost of living, our expenses keep going up and our earnings keep going down, none of us are going to be living here shortly," Campanero said. "So, no I don't believe in raising taxes to get something like this done. I do believe in trying to do something different."
Bianco and Martorano said there should be a "public safety issue" before choosing to raise taxes to finance the town's infrastructure. Campanero said he wants to see consolidation of services which would save the town money.
Paganelli suggested that businesses, such as Costco that has offered to help with the roads near its site, could help toward fixing the town's infrastructure.
"Clearly I'm not a fan of increasing taxes under any circumstances," Paganelli said. "We can barely survive under the burden we have right now. What I think people don't realize is only 10.44 percent of your tax bill goes to the town. The biggest problem right now is that 71.35 percent of your tax bill goes to the school districts."
A question where opinions varied was on term limits. The current town board members, Bianco and Martorano, said they are opposed to term limits.
"If you don't like the work someone is doing vote him or her out," Bianco said. "You do need some experience on the town board."
They said it was the voters' choice whether they wanted to keep someone in office or not.
"I always thought elections were term limits," Martorano said. "I believe in people having a choice. [...] If you believe a person is doing your business and doing it well, and doing it humbly, modestly and effectively, then you should have the right to keep them in."
Campanero and Paganelli said they're in favor because people with new ideas should be given the opportunity to get on the town board and accomplish what their goals within the period of time they're in office.
"I'm in favor of term limits," Paganelli said. "I believe that public service is a calling, not a career. I believe that you should go in, knowing that you got eight years, two terms to get done what you want to get done."
Town board candidate , who is a write-in candidate and , said he was not invited to the debate.
We will be posting a Q&A with each candidate. Stay tuned with Yorktown Patch for more election coverage.