SOMERS, N.Y. — The main attraction at the Somers League of Women Voters candidates forum Monday night was the two local candidates running for town council seats.
This was the case, in part because, while eight candidates were invited to attend the event at the Somers Library, only four attended. Statements were read on behalf of District 40 State Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson) and District 94 Assembly member Stephen Katz (R-Yorktown).
Circumstances left Katz’s Democratic opponent Andrew Falk and Ball’s Democratic opponent Justin Wagner (D) with the stage to themselves to give a short statement to the packed house, but the night belonged to George Dieter (D) and Anthony Cirieco (R).
Dieter explained that shortfalls in revenue have caused Somers to cut the town engineer and instead work with outside contractors, cut the conservation board, reduce the town planner’s hours and reduce library funding.
“Some of these cuts have been essential, most of them are not. My concern is: what are the next cuts that are going to be made?” he said. “We’re getting to the point where we’re no longer cutting fat out of the town budget, if there was any to begin with, we’re cutting into the bone and we’re going to start impacting on essential services that people really depend on.”
Dieter, an attorney who has lived in Somers since 1989, had a list of suggestions that included creating a five-year financial plan for the town and hiring a town purchasing agent instead of having each department individually purchase their own affects.
Dieter, who, in addition to logging four years on the town board also served six years as a school board trustee, also suggested that the town take advantage of the school district’s purchasing power to maximize existing investments.
Cirieco, a Somers resident since 1983 who works in finance and is serving his sixth year as a board of education trustee, echoed this idea of collaborating with the school district, stressing his expertise in this area.
“I’ve demonstrated the ability to manage expectations and bring people together,” on the school board level, Cirieco said, using his financial experience to lower costs and maintain service levels.
In the end, Cirieco said, he does not believe “draconian cuts” will need to be made to the town budget, but Somers residents will have to make some hard choices.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘How high do I want my taxes to go,’” he said.