Were Fulton County leaders true to their words?
Okay, time to look back and see if anything Fulton County’s leaders said at the start of the year came true.
Let’s take stuff the heads of the county Board of Supervisors and the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown said in January and regurgitate it in December.
We’ll start with Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Kinowski. The Johnstown 2nd Ward supervisor said at the board’s organizational meeting that supervisors would “continue to be Fulton County positive” [the county motto] in 2017.
Kinowski held true to his word, not endorsing upheaval, and even taking yours truly to task once for not being “positive enough” about the county.
Although he has served on the county board more than a decade, he didn’t have “anything specific” to impart in January. The county had several economic development efforts gather steam this year. They are designed to someday lower taxes. But apparently not quick enough, as the county ended the year with a 7.7 percent tax hike.
Kinowski said the county would be fully supportive of “growth and population expansion and development” in 2017.
Hey, aren’t we all?
Next up is Gloversville Mayor Dayton King, who enters his third, four-year term in January 2018. In January 2017, the mayor told the Common Council he had “lofty goals and expectations for 2017 and beyond.”
King said he wanted to see the city increase its state aid by at least $500,000 and increase sales tax by $300,000. Not sure that happened. The mayor also desired a 2 percent tax decrease in the 2018 budget — something he put in. But the Common Council approved a 2018 city budget with a zero percent tax increase. King gets much credit for giving it the old college try.
The city never put forth King’s idea for a referendum to reduce the number of supervisors in the city from six to one or two.
King called the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth’s hiring of Downtown Development Specialist Jennifer Jennings something the city can look forward to in 2017. No argument here. Jennings brought several fun events downtown this year, including Bacon Jam.
The Gloversville mayor said in January the city was in a strong place and he was confident it will keep moving forward. But he said he “feared being in the exact same place next year, as we are today.”
I guess the only thing holding him back are personnel squabbles in city government. But with new Councilman-at-Large-Elect Vincent DeSantis, his running mate of sorts, the city may indeed move forward.
In his January “State of the City” address, Johnstown Mayor Vern Jackson predicted 2017 would be a year in which the city must “work extremely hard” to keep moving forward. After an undigestible 9 percent tax hike adopted for 2017, the Common Council forwarded a 2 percent increase for 2018, so I guess that’s progress.
After a rough 2016, in which former Johnstown Mayor Michael Julius passed away and a former councilman-at-large resigned, Jackson said in January that the city had “only one direction to go, and that is forward.” And it mostly did, landing infrastructure grant money, approving union contracts, and projects such as the Townsend Leather expansion. Under Jackson’s leadership, the city righted the ship in 2017.
To his credit, Jackson predicted the rosier 2017. He expressed a hope for “fair and equitable” agreements, although Johnstown Renewables has been a failed project so far at the Johnstown Industrial Park.
Jackson stated:“We must continue to seek out more businesses to locate to the city of Johnstown.”
The city ends the year on a high note, permitting more than $1 million worth of construction projects in October.
∫ Gold stars go to Caroga Supervisor-Elect James Selmser and Broadalbin Supervisor-Elect Sheila Perry, spotted attending Fulton County Board of Supervisors meetings lately in Johnstown. These two dedicated public servants want to hit the ground running before being sworn in Jan. 2. Good for them.
∫ I know people who got jury duty for a Fulton County Court trial last week. Spies tell me all 80 potential jurors had to turn around and go home or back to work after only an hour Monday morning because one of the attorneys couldn’t make it. Talk about wasting people’s time. Maybe the court system can institute some kind of phone tree or alert if they really care.