Veteran Canton councilman Smith wants to continue to give back to community
BY PAUL MITCHELL
North Country This Week
CANTON -- Veteran Town of Canton politician James T. Smith wants to continue to give back to his community, if re-elected Nov. 2.
“I was a county legislator for 10 years, Town of Canton Supervisor for eight years and I am in my 11th year as a council person. I have a very good understanding of how town government works having put together eight budgets in my two terms as supervisor,” said Smith, running on the Democrat and Focused on the People party lines. “In those eight years with the help of the board members, I was able to grow the town’s fund balance to over $600,000.”Priority projects for Smith include the development of the new highway site on Stiles Avenue, three solar projects and the revision of the town code.
“These are all projects I have worked very closely on and would like to be involved in to their completion,” he stated.
Smith has always kept a close eye on town infrastructure and the maintenance of town roads.
“My main focus has been and will continue to be highway since infrastructure is important to the growth of any community. Even though 60% of the town’s budget is spent on highway, the cost of building and maintaining roads, as well as upgrading equipment, continues to create budget issues,” Smith remarked.
“Solar development is going to take a tremendous amount of time since two projects are in or near the planning stages and the 1,500-acre Rice Road project is just waiting for NYPA [New York Power Authority] to finish its upgrade,” Smith added.
He noted that considerable progress has been made with the Village of Canton in regards to shared services.
Smith said he has acquired the skills and knowledge of every facet of town government over his decades of experience.
“I know all the functions of town government including the complexity of a budget that operates using two taxing jurisdictions. I have worked with every department, negotiated highway employees contracts, been involved in writing a number of local laws, co-chaired the town and village comprehensive plan, and have performed annual audits for all offices where audits are required,” Smith said.
If re-elected, what challenges would Smith face?
“I always find the biggest challenge is putting a balanced budget together that keeps the tax rate at an acceptable level and still be able to provide the services that people expect,” Smith stated. “Solar will be a major issue but the board is well prepared for it with the adoption of our solar law. “We have an excess of $150,000 in an escrow account to pay for legal and consulting fees. This money is provided by the developers as a result of this law.”
“When I first ran for office, I said I would be ‘Active and Accountable.’ In my 29 years I have attended between 700 and 800 regular and special board meetings. On top of that I have attended countless committee meetings, but have the flexibility in my schedule to remain as active as I have been. As for accountability, I will stand behind any vote on any issue as being in the best interest to the residents of the Town of Canton.”