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Propositions may face city voters

Water revenue could flow to Gloversville

August 15, 2010
By AMANDA WHISTLE, The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - Voters may have a say in November on whether the city's Common Council terms should be staggered and whether the city should be paid some of the revenue the Water Department brings in from out-of-city customers.

The Common Council is expected to vote on resolutions to add the two measures to the ballot at its Aug. 24 meeting and discuss the resolution concerning the Water Department at its meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

At the Common Council's Aug. 10 special meeting, city officials discussed staggering terms.

King noted Friday that all six wards are up for election in 2011.

"There's definitely a learning curve," King said. "It'd be tough to have all six council members new, who didn't really know what was going on."

King said staggering terms will eliminate all seats being up for election again at the same time.

The measure states that for the 2011 election year all of the council seats would be filled, but three of the wards would be elected to two-year-terms, while the other three seats would be four-year terms.

Then in 2013, the three ward seats chosen would be elected to four-year terms.

By 2015, every two years council seats would be up for election.

First Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth said Tuesday that the measure wouldn't cost taxpayers more in costs necessary to hold elections since the mayor and at-large councilman seats are up in 2013.

King told the Council he applauded their actions Tuesday night in expressing their support for staggering terms. He said many constituents have raised the idea to him.

King said that the Water Department manages its money very well, but he said the department brings in an extra $140,000 that should go toward the city, in revenue from out-of-city customers.

That figure accounts for the 2 1/2 times more than the city rate that out-of-city residents pay for water.

City residents right now are charged $3 for the first 5,000 cubic feet of water used and $2.90 for everything over 5,000 cubic feet.

King said he wants the revenue raised by the extra cost to go toward the city.

The Water Department is run by a board separate from the city with its $2.4 million operating budget and 16 full-time employees.

King said Thursday that the Water Department's fund balance comes in at 57 percent of its operating budget, a figure that Water Department Clerk Christine Linart confirmed Friday.

While the state recommends a fund balance of 8 percent to 10 percent of the operating budget, Linart said she didn't necessarily think the Water Department's fund balance was a bad thing.

"The fund balance is basically your statement of net worth," Linart said. "We're trying to be fiscally responsible and plan for the future and we really do have to."

Linart noted several projects like a water tank on Eagle Street that has to be brought back on line. That comes at a cost of around $2 million. The department's meters are becoming obsolete, too, Linart said.

"Within a few years, it's going to be very difficult to find parts. Eventually we're going to have to update [to radio-read meters] and that will probably be another $1 million," Linart said.

She also noted that labor negotiations yielded a new health insurance plan for the employees that helped save $200,000 a year.

King said there is no reason for the Water Department and city to remain separate. He said the two were separated to protect the city's Water Department from corruption back when the city was thriving with leather mills, King said. He said that back then elected officials could have opted to give their friends in the leather mill business cheaper water rates.

"I'm all for the town paying a higher rate to get service, but that doesn't help the city at all," King said.

Amanda Whistle can be reached at montco@leaderherald.com

 
 

 

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