Chairman of county supers sworn in

Arthur Johnson, Town of Wilton supervisor, was elected to chair the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors during an annual organizational meeting Friday, Jan. 2, in a unanimous decision by his fellow supervisors.

The meeting was held in the county offices in Ballston Spa, where the Board of Supervisors meets monthly. Johnson will be taking over for Galway Supervisor George Hargrave.

He's a good man, and I believe he'll do an excellent job for the county, said Hargrave of Johnson. Both men are Republicans.

Johnson will be taking the reins in what is likely to become a memorable year. With the state facing a massive deficit, it is unclear exactly how state aid to municipalities will be affected in 2009, meaning that Saratoga may have to dip into its $28 million fund balance (the county passed a budget and locked in tax rates last year).

"I think he's got a tough challenge ahead, but I think he's up to the task," said Hargrave. "We're all going to give him as much support as we can."

Johnson played a major role in drafting this year's budget as chairman of the Law and Finance Committee, and he made sure to include $600,000 to buy new pagers for emergency workers across the county to work with a new emergency radio system. The money was included at the county level so as not to overtax towns.

"That's a public safety issue," said Johnson. "People up in the North Country, their pagers didn't work, and they couldn't respond to fire and accidents."

In a year that many areas are dealing with large businesses shrinking and closing, 2009 will mark the groundbreaking of AMD's major project: a $4.5 billion microchip-manufacturing facility that promises to employ 1,465.

"It certainly is a great thing to the county, especially given what you see happening elsewhere " and even here " with companies that are shutting down and laying off," said Johnson.

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