My friend Sandy Hayes has sent me some great information about the financial history of the town of St. Armand way back when S.W. "Sid" Barnard was the town supervisor.
Now Sandy is a very frugal fellow when it comes to money and likewise looks out for his friends. As I waited in my car one day while he was tromping some wooded real estate, I read the morning newspaper. Since I had finished reading the paper, when Sandy reappeared I gave him the paper.
A few days later I received a short letter from Sandy with a quarter enclosed, saying he was afraid I really only had time to read half the newspaper, as he did, so he thought it was only fair that he pay for half of the 50-cent cost of the newspaper. I'm tellin' you, it's things like that in life that would make a mare bite her colt.
The Barnard report to the citizens of St. Armand was in 1937, when he was retiring as supervisor. Believe it or not, I met Mr. Barnard that same year, when my father, Dennis, took me into Barnard's dry goods or department store, whatever it was called, on Main Street in Bloomingdale - a big man with a nice personality. We lived on Norman Ridge at the time.
The financial report
The following report was dated Dec. 31, 1937:
"To the People of the Town of St. Armand, Essex County, New York
"After serving the Town of St. Armand as Supervisor for many years, in fact almost continuously sine 1898, I am now making my Supervisor's report for the year 1937.
"There is no bonded indebtedness against the Town at the present time. The only obligation are a temporary loan payable to the Brookside Cemetery Association of $1,000 (due to the highway project of 1935-36), and a certificate of indebtedness amounting to $2,000, by authority of the Town Board, for the purchase of a truck and snowplow, of which $1,000 is payable in 1938 and the balance in 1939.
"Reimbursements will be made by Essex County and the State of New York for snow removal to take care of the indebtedness for the truck and the snowplow, so that no direct burden will fall on the taxpayer for the purchase of this equipment.
"Our inventory of highway equipment is as follows:
1 Ford truck, 1936
1 Ford truck, 1937
1 road grader
1 dump wagon
1 road hone
2-and-a-half miles of snow fence
Complete list of tools and supplies in good condition.
"The balance of cash on hand, amounting to $4,256.03, will be transferred to my successor in office, Mr. Lee Gillespie, on January 1, 1938.
"The Town of St. Armand is badly in need of a tool shed to house the Town equipment, and I would suggest that such a building be erected.
"The slight increase in taxes for the year results from Welfare expenditures in home relief, hospitalization, and medical aid. All amounts for these purposes were expended only when absolutely necessary.
"Extensive improvements were made to the Town Hall during 1936-37 without any increase in taxes, although the cost of these improvements was $973.42.
"Taxable property in St. Armand is assessed at $845,233.00, and that exempt from taxation is valued at $828,775.00.
"In closing, I wish to take this opportunity to thank the voters of the Town of St. Armand for their loyal support and co-operation in the many years past. To them I have endeavored to give my best and faithful services, and will continue to do so at all times."
Report of the new supervisor
Lee W. Gillespie became supervisor on Jan. 1, 1938. Following are excerpts from his first report to the taxpayers of the Town of St. Armand:
"The question which seems to be on many minds at this time, I hope to be able to answer in this letter - 'Why are taxes higher?' (Son of a gun, what else is new?)
"When properties are sold for their taxes to the county, they are no longer on the tax rolls and of course the total income from taxes is reduced. The burden of meeting the budget then falls on those who are in the habit of paying their taxes and whose taxes are thereby enlarged to make up for those who can not or will not pay.
"So it will be seen that despite the fact that the supervisors of Essex County have reduced their budget for the year 1940 by $17,060.20 and your Town Board has reduced their budget by $74.63, that decrease does not affect current taxes due for 1939 which were increased because of the removal of $985,671.00 of property from the tax rolls of the county. Of the above amount $62,000.00 was stricken from the tax roll of the Town of St. Armand.
"Lee W. Gillespie"