On Wednesday, December 11 the Pawling Town Board convened for its final session of 2019. The evening would serve as a chance for Board members to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year, as well as look ahead to what they hope to accomplish in 2020 and beyond. In addition, the meeting would also give the Board a chance to express their appreciation for outgoing Councilman Reid McGrath, and Town Bookkeeper Andrew Forman, who will be leaving Pawling to pursue other opportunities.
For more than a year, Town Supervisor James Schmitt and the rest of the Board have focused on slowly reworking the Town’s policies for providing health benefits for retirees. At the December 11 meeting, the Board would continue towards this goal by passing a resolution that will switch the health plan for retirees from the current NYSHIP Empire Plan to an AARP plan that still provides excellent coverage, for a lower rate. “This is another great step,” explained Supervisor Schmitt. “We’re looking at $50,000 in savings by moving retirees to this plan. It’s small steps towards our ultimate goal.”
As the meeting moved to the Board comment portion of the evening, each member took the opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed. “I’d like to congratulate this Board for what I think was a very successful, productive year,” said Councilman Bill Johnson. “We had a lot of good interactive conversation and public discussion, and I think we accomplished a tremendous amount. I’m looking forward to next year, and looking forward to working with Coleen Snow. We’ve already had some great conversations, and I think we can continue this positive momentum.” Councilman Jimbo McCarthy spoke on the merits of the staff and personnel throughout Pawling, saying “I’d like to thank all of the department heads, and all the employees. They make all of our jobs much easier.”
Although his tenure on the Town Board lasted only one year, Councilman Reid McGrath spoke favorably on his experiences serving in local government. “I want to thank you guys, this has been an amazing year,” he said. “It was a great learning experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Just to see the ins and outs of how Pawling operates. It’s a wonderful thing to know and a lot of people don’t get to see that. I just ask you to keep plugging away on the projects we’ve been working on, the park, keep trying to get rid of the dirt, and keep working on the sewer line. I know you will. I know you all work hard behind the scenes, and that’s all we can ask as tax payers.”
“I want to thank the Board, and the employees, and Cathy Giordano especially, for handling our meetings,” added Councilman Phil DeRosa. “And Reid, I want to thank you for giving me faith in the younger generation. I didn’t think the Millenials were capable of getting involved in politics, and we have two of them, you and our Supervisor. I really appreciated your enthusiasm.”
Supervisor Schmitt would also express his appreciation for Councilman McGrath’s service, as well as offer his views on the rigors and rewards of public service. “Throwing your hat in the ring is never easy. We take the punches and work a lot behind the scenes. It’s not just meetings twice a month. It is a big work load, and it takes a toll on family life, social life, and community life. People come to you for answers, and not everyone always agrees. You try to do the right thing every single day, and you try to make decisions that are best for your community. It takes so much time to be involved with town politics, but I like it more and more every single day. We’ve seen real changes. We’ve made strong fiscal decisions, we’ve made decisions for our services. We’ve brought improvements to roads, drainage, and infrastructure, and we increased funding where we needed it. I’m excited for next year.”
Finally, Supervisor Schmitt would also express his gratitude for the service of Town Bookkeeper Andrew Forman, who will be leaving to pursue another job in the new year. “Andrew is moving on to bigger and better things,” he explained. “We’re sad to see him go, he’s worked really hard for this community. I wish him well, he brought a level of transparency to the Bookkeeping department in a way where he met with so many residents outside of normal working hours. He worked very hard for this Board and for this community.”