The Rotterdam Town Board voted 3-to-1 to reappoint County Legislator Angelo Santabarbara, R-Rotterdam, to a three-year term as chairman of the town's Industrial Development Agency.
The position carries a $5,000 annual stipend, but Santabarbara said he would not accept payment. Instead, the freshman county Legislator will use the money to establish a number of scholarships for students who excel in math and science at area high schools.
In fact, Santabarbara presented two inaugural $750 scholarships to students at Schalmont High School's awards night on Friday, May 30.
Supervisor Steven Tommasone said Santabarbara's use of his salary showed the IDA chairman's dedication to the development, both economic and educational, of his community.
We're not only worried about creating jobs, but making sure we have a highly educated work force, said Tommasone.
Still, board member John Silva, who cast the board's lone dissenting vote, thought it was inappropriate for an elected official to chair the town's economic development wing.
"The IDA should be as non-partisan as possible," said Silva. "I don't believe that the chair of our IDA should be a county legislator as well."
Tommasone disagreed with Silva. He cited Santabarbara's background as a civil engineer as his chief qualification for the job.
Board member Michael Della Villa was absent from the meeting.
Santabarbara, who was first appointed as chairman of the IDA to fulfill the remainder of departed chairman Art Brassard's term last summer, insists that his post as a legislator won't interfere with his work at the IDA.
"We're not funded by the taxpayers," said Santabarbara, who noted that the Rotterdam IDA is a nonprofit benefit corporation that attempts to attract business projects to the town.
Santabarbara cites the establishment of a small business grant program as his greatest accomplishment as head of the IDA. Last year's program gave nine $2,500 faCade grants to local businesses who matched the grant with $2,500 or more of their own money.