Below is Gloversville Mayor Dayton King's State of the City address:
I'd like to welcome everyone to our Organizational meeting tonight and thank you for coming.
I will discuss several topics tonight and none is greater than the overall vision and goals for Gloversville for 2013 and the next 3-5 years.
It is very clear to me that we must put in writing our thoughts and plan about growing our economy, continuing to improve efficiencies in each of our departments, improving recreation opportunities for people of all ages and preserving public services and safety in our City.
I urge the common council to appropriate $10,000 to $15,000 towards an overhaul of our comprehensive plan. We currently have a document that states what we have in our City, but not where we are going. I believe we have the support from the Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Business Improvement District and several private business owners to assist with the costs for this professional document. This will then become the marketing plan for our City. We have a lot to offer people and businesses that are looking for a place to live or locate a company; we need to do a better job of telling people about our resources and plans for the future.
Business and Jobs
For almost the last decade we have been talking about the Wal-Mart Super Center project and anticipating the sales and property tax and jobs that its opening will create. With their anticipated July opening, we will begin to see the benefits this will have for our City. Not only will there be direct benefits from the store itself, this has already spurred interest from people owning parcels nearby to develop their land for places to eat or shop.
The area surrounding the Wal-Mart Super Center will soon be the new Central Business District (CBD) in Fulton County. Building an access road and curb cut to Route 30A are essential pieces of making this development happen. Our DPW Director, Common Council, Department of Transportation and I have been working hard to make sure the proper steps are taken to do this right.
We will continue to foster relationships with existing business and welcome new ones. After participating in the recent CEO Roundtable's Downtown Revitalization Symposium, I am even more confident that we can work together and use proven strategies to grow our Downtown. I look forward to working closely with Mark Kilmer, the Fulton and Montgomery Chamber of Commerce President as well as the BID and other organizations in our City. Private and public investment and collaboration is a must. The two cities and the town of Johnstown must also work together to allow business growth in our County.
Despite living in an economy that is the worst that most of us have seen in our lifetimes, the City of Gloversville has not raised property taxes in the past two years. We have used our reserve fund to balance the budget and continue to deliver the vital services that keep our City a safe, healthy place to live.
Working closely with department heads and Councilman at Large James Robinson, this year's budget process was very smooth and the best it has been in years. The common council continues to work hard to keep spending down and live within our means.
Pension costs and health care costs continue to rise at a rate that is many times inflation. That means our only options once again were to reduce spending, increase taxes or take from our savings. In 2013, we need help from our labor unions - particularly the Gloversville Fire Fighters Association. The GFFA must come to the table and work with us to find a contract that works for everyone. The Fire Department is full of excellent, hardworking, professionals - but the personnel costs are rising too fast for the taxpayers of the City of Gloversville. The minimum manning and no layoff clauses are luxuries this City can no longer afford. I am happy to pay for overtime when we need to call people in for a fire or other emergency, but it pains me to pay extra money because previous administrations agreed to these terms.
We continue to be open for feedback from our residents and others from around the area. My personal Facebook page has been used for engaging people who are not able or willing to come to council meetings. From this page, many ideas have been brought up for things from recreation to public safety. And while I do not agree with every idea or comment that is presented, I appreciate everyone who reaches out to me on this social media site. Other officials also use social media to gain input and promote local events and businesses. We also receive and respond to phone calls and emails and our proud to return most of our messages within 24 hours.
Our City website is up to date with the agenda and meeting minutes. Our council member's phone numbers are published in our official newspaper making sure our constituents are able to contact their elected representatives.
Our Police and Fire Departments along with DPW crews work with the County's dispatchers to respond quickly to emergencies within our City. I look forward to this communication improving during 2013.
With the promotion of Police Chief Donald VanDeusen, came an increase of visibility of our Police officers, sergeants, captains and the Chief himself. With this increased visibility, statistics have shown that crime has decreased. Self-initiated activity has increased, leading to more traffic stops and arrests. Over time, this will decrease the amount of crime people attempt to commit in our City as they know they will be caught.
The Neighborhood Watch program continues to grow and is a good way for our residents and councilmembers to work with our police officers to deter and report crimes.
Obtaining two new police vehicles and computer equipment will allow our police department to stay on patrol instead of coming back to the station as often to do paperwork.
We are hopeful to receive a grant for a new Quint in our Fire Department. This will allow more people to respond in one vehicle as it will have a ladder and a water supply.
The Public Works department is doing a great deal of cross training to make sure people can jump into a function when a co-worker is out or when there is a retirement.
Our Transit department continues to provide mobility for people who need to get to their job, medical appointment, school or shopping. The level of state and federal funding continues to increase, allowing us to decrease the cost to Gloversville taxpayers.
While this year is not an election year for our council-members, it is for the Gloversville Supervisors. As I have stated in the past, I believe there is too many government officials for our population. I would like to see and would support a Council-member running for the office of supervisor as well. This is allowed and currently happens within NY State. We need to have people at County Board meetings who represent Gloversville taxpayers. The Towns are represented by their supervisor and this could be done in Gloversville and perhaps with the City of Johnstown as well.
Our Recreation Committee is fully operational and continues to improve everyone month. I am happy to announce that we have opened the Lucius N. Littauer Ice Skating Rink this past weekend. It may be one of the biggest outdoor skating rinks in Upstate NY measuring the same size as an Olympic Hockey Rink, 100 x 200 feet.
Our recreation committee members have been raising money for increased programs and things for people of all ages to do. This year, we will work with youth sports clubs and come up with a more collaborative plan so we don't need to buy the same item, such as a lawn mower, three times. Many great volunteers in this City spend their own time and money to make sure that children and adults, including senior citizens have recreation opportunities.
The city has reached out to the Senior Center's Board of Directors with questions about funding the club and I am recommending that this be forwarded to our recreation committee as well.
While there are many uncertainties that may arise during 2013, I am confident in a few things. I know that while our Councilmembers, Department heads, City employees, volunteer board members and I work hard with the taxpayers and people who depend on City services, we will succeed.
If we choose to be part of the solution instead of the problem and take responsibility for our own actions we will succeed.
Finally, if we ask questions and seek the truth instead of assuming we know the answers, we will take this City from Good to Great.