By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(July 12, 2018) Real estate developer Troy Purnell, 55, is seeking a third term in office as the District 1 Berlin Town Councilman.
A Berlin native, Purnell studied business law, accounting, drafting and architecture at the University of Denver and Florida Atlantic University.
Purnell said he got into politics because he was interested in the town’s finances.
“When I really got looking hard at it, I knew there were some ways to make it better and then the opportunity [to run for office] popped up,” he said. “And it’s been great. It really has.”
After “making a mistake or two” during his first year in office, Purnell said he learned to “keep my mouth shut and listen a lot.”
“That’s the best way to figure it out,” he said.
Eventually, Purnell said he learned the town was run like a business.
“Which is great,” he said. “There’s lots of stuff that needs to be done and, like any business, there’s only one source of income. You’ve got to spend that dollar wisely.”
He was highly complimentary of Mayor Gee Williams.
“Since I got on the council, I’ve watched Gee turn hundreds of thousands into millions,” Purnell said. “He’s really done a great job. It was good leadership and he took us in the right direction.”
Looking ahead, Purnell said the biggest issue facing the town is finding a way to pay for the maintenance of infrastructure.
“The dollars don’t go nearly as far as they used to for any kind of construction, especially sewer, water and roads,” he said. “Those costs have gone way up and there’s a lot of stuff we need to do. We’ve got a long-term plan, but it’s going to take money. That’s going to be the biggest thing I see.”
To pay for that, he added, “There’s only one place you can do it and it’s the property tax.”
“The fire company is asking for a bunch of money and, honestly, I think they’re due some. So, you’ve got to get that paid for as well,” he said. “None of it’s cheap or easy anymore.”
Purnell said the relationship between the town and Berlin Fire Company has improved – a lot – despite what occurred during a recent public meeting.
“It couldn’t get much worse at one point,” he said. “And it’s a shame. It really is. It didn’t have to happen like that. It was an information-gathering [meeting]. That’s what it was supposed to have been, instead of spear throwing.
“But it’s looking forward,” Purnell continued. “Everybody understands they need the money, especially on the EMS side, and we’ve got to figure out a way to give it to them.”
As a developer, Purnell said there hasn’t really been any growth in the town in some time. That could soon change.
“There’s not really been any new lots introduced in the market in eight years or so,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of interest. We’ve had a lot of real estate sales because of what’s out there right now. There’s some reasonably priced stuff and it’s gotten snatched up real quick, but as far as creation of new lots – it’s tough.
“The market is getting to a point where it’s – maybe, if everything goes well – time to go ahead and do some more lots and fill in what we’ve got,” Purnell continued. “I think there’s a good opportunity to do some neat stuff. I really do.”
Vote for Troy Purnell, he said, because he truly cares about the town.
“And I hate to say it, but I really do understand it pretty well,” he said. “And I think we can all work together pretty good as a mayor and council to get some progress instead of nothing happening.
“We’ve done a lot and I’d love to keep doing it. There’s been a lot of stuff that’s been taken care of that needed to get taken care of, and I don’t think we’re done yet,” Purnell added.