Davis, Cope square off for mayor's post

By Joe Moskowitz
Voters in Margaretville are about to choose a new mayor. Bill Stanton is stepping down. He will be replaced either by Diana Cope, former executive director of Margaretville’s Fairview Library, or Lauren Davis, a retired chemical engineer.

The village election will be held on Tuesday, March 19 with balloting from noon-9 p.m. in the village office on Main Street.

Regardless of which candidate wins, he or she will have to deal with a tough financial challenge. The village is facing a tax increase of at least 10 percent. Cope expects it to be in the 10-14 percent range. That is much lower than the preliminary estimate of 25 percent, but still it’s a big jump. Davis says the budget committee should have known from the outset that its initial estimate was way too high. Cope praised the committee for its work and finding ways to trim the budget down to its essentials.

The problem, as reported in the Catskill Mountain News, is a sharp decrease in the assessment of the village’s biggest revenue source, the New York City-owned waste treatment plant, and the failure of the Federal Emergency Management Administration to reimburse the village for flood related expenses. Davis is concerned if the tax situation is “just a blip” or if there is reason to believe this will happen again. Cope says she hopes it is “just a blip,” but says, if elected, and it turns out to be a long-term problem she and the village will do whatever needs to be done.

Davis says, if elected, he will consider all options, including one that his opponent compares to an obscenity, dissolving the village. Davis says it would be “shooting from the hip” to say he is in favor of it, and he says “it would be shooting from the hip” to say he is against it. He says a decision such as that would require serious consideration of all factors including what he calls “the espirit de corps’ of being a village.

Cope says that would be “a worst case scenario.” She says it’s not easy to do, and it would not relieve taxpayers of their obligations. And, she says, if it ever were to happen, Margaretville would lose its identity. She says in this case, she and her opponent are more or less in agreement.