By JOE MAHONEY
The Daily Star
---- — COOPERSTOWN — Otsego County Treasurer Dan Crowell, who serves as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, said Tuesday that he has received orders to report to active Army duty Feb. 1.
Crowell, 37, is the county’s chief fiscal officer and the architect of the recent county budget that held the county property tax levy to just under 2 percent. He is also a captain in the Army Reserve, attached to the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion based near Syracuse, leaving him subject to military deployment whenever the Army requires his services.
The married father of a young son said he expects the deployment will run about six months. His assignment, he added, will be to undergo training in light infantry tactics at Fort Benning in Georgia.
He said he does not anticipate being sent to Afghanistan, where the Army remains involved in the war against terror.
Filling in for Crowell as acting treasurer during the elected official’s absence will be Russ Bachman of Edmeston, the former fiscal manager of the Otsego Manor.
Bachman gave up that job in 2005 to run as an independent, with the Democratic line, for county treasurer. He was narrowly defeated in Novembber 2005 by Republican Myrna Thayne.
Bachman has already been hired by Crowell in recent days as assistant treasurer. He will become acting treasurer Feb. 1, the day Crowell reports to duty at Fort Benning.
Commenting on his deployment, Crowell said, “Personally, it is going to be the most rigorous training I have had in my career with the military.”
Crowell, a Democrat who lives in Middlefield, was elected county treasurer in November 2009, narrowly defeating Republican Edward Keator Jr. of West Oneonta. He said he plans to seek re-election this year, and will begin campaigning in earnest in October, shortly after returning from his Army deployment.
“I find this job tremendously rewarding in many ways,” said Crowell, noting he has no interest in taking any appointed position with Gov. Andrew Cuomo or any of the other Democrats holding statewide office. “I have a high degree of satisfaction in the job I am doing now.”
Bachman will be coming out of retirement to fill in during Crowell’s absence. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University and is a former executive for Scanvec Inc., a computer software company in Wilmington, Mass.
Otsego County Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, said he expects the county’s fiscal affairs will be capably managed by Bachman because of his experience with the Manor, which is now slated for privatization, and with county government.
“Russ Bachman is a veteran of county government and he understands the finances of the county,” Powers said.
Otsego County GOP Chairwoman Sheila Ross said no Republican has yet committed to challenging Crowell in the upcoming election.
“There are people who have been thinking about it,” she said. Crowell’s upcoming deployment, she noted, “might bring more interest” among those who have been eying the seat.
Crowell voiced strong confidence in Bachman’s ability to comprehend the challenges before the county, noting he has conferred with him often on county fiscal matters, particularly on those relating to the Manor, whose operating deficit has mushroomed in recent years.
He said that he and Bachman will meet daily over the next 2½ weeks until he leaves for duty.