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Gloversville council gears up for new year

December 28, 2013
By LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - Members of the Common Council say they want to improve the lives of people living and working in the city in 2014.

Several members say they will push for new economic development, take aim against blight, try to improve the city transit system and update the city's comprehensive plan.

In November, 2nd Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds proposed the city hire a laborer to help reduce blight by doing maintenance on city- and county-owned properties, including unmaintained homes and businesses seized through nonpayment of taxes.

The council voted 4-3 against adding the employee.

But Simonds said he isn't done trying to add the position. He said he'll probably pursue the issue again in the spring when unkempt houses owned by the city and county are more visible.

"That's still my priority," he said.

"I walk outside my door every day and see at least five houses that need work or need to be torn down," Simonds said.

Most of the calls he receives from city residents are about blight, he said.

Sixth Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski said he would like to resolve the expired contracts of city departments, including the fire and police departments and the Department of Public Works.

"Hopefully, we can get those up to date and save the taxpayers some money," he said.

Fifth Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli said he also would like to see the contract issues resolved in the new year, but he added negotiations have to go through the mayor.

He said the city will continue to look for lower health insurance costs.

"The council [will] continue to push for new ways to approach health insurance in an effort to save the taxpayers money," he said.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio said she is looking forward to finalizing the new employee handbook for city employees. She said the city doesn't have one, and members of the personnel committee have been working on the new document.

"It would be for all the employees of the city," Anadio said. "Most employers have one, and it's important [the employees] know what is expected of them."

Council members said they are looking forward to working on the new comprehensive plan this year. It would show where the city is and what it wants to do in the future.

"I think the comprehensive plan for the city is a step in the right direction, and [I] look forward to the results," Zarrelli said.

"We need to work on what we are looking for in the downtown area as well as what we are expecting near the Walmart," Simonds said, referring to the new Walmart off South Kingsboro Avenue.

Council members also said they want to work with other municipalities to find ways to help each other.

Siarkowski said he would look to have the transit route between Gloversville and Johnstown restored through cooperation between both municipalities.

"It would be nice to get that route back," he said. "But I don't feel like Gloversville should foot the whole bill to make that happen."

More communication is needed with Fulton County as well, said Simonds.

"We need to have better communication with the county for both these annexation issues and the water and sewer," Simonds said. "[The annex] issue has became so bitter that we have to go to court every time this comes up, and with [the county] talking about taking the water and sewer, that can't happen, but with the way it came up, it just stirs up the water and anxiety, which is unnecessary."

Council members said they are happy the city was able to reduce the property-tax burden on residents in 2014.

Council members said the city has been fiscally conservative the last three years. The 2014 budget will lower the tax rate by 40 cents next year, a decrease of nearly 2 percent.

However, council members and the mayor say unless the city cuts expenses or the economy improves, tax decreases won't continue.

"We have about five years of fund balance if we don't come up with more revenue or bring new business to this area," Simonds said. "That is the main problem in the city."

Members of the council said they want to see a proposed access road along Route 30A finalized and property annexation issues in that area resolved.

Simonds said he would like to see both sides of Route 30A developed from Harrison Street to South Kingsboro Avenue, but that would require working with the state Department of Transportation.

"Those areas have to be built up to provide us with more revenue," Simonds said. "The area near Burger King won't be developed soon because we have holdouts there. We have an opportunity now to build on the arterial, but that can't happen without getting the [curb] cuts from DOT. If you're a business, you don't want people to go past Walmart before they reach your lot."

Zarrelli said he would like to see the proposed Estee Commons project downtown come to fruition and spur more spending in the downtown area.

He said he would like to see safety issues addressed in his ward around Darling Field during Fulton United Soccer Club games on Saturdays. He said the city previously directed the soccer club to open the gated parking lot to relieve parking issues on nearby streets. He said the city is continuing to look at other ways to increase safety further.

Mayor King previously said he plans to improve his communication with the council as he begins his second four-year term in January.

He also said he wants to share more services with neighboring municipalities to reduce costs. King said he aims to forge a stronger relationship with the city and town of Johnstown.

Like the council members, he emphasized the city will need to find new sources of revenue. He wants to improve the city's marketing efforts in the Capital Region and work more closely with the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, he said previously.

Council members Stephen Mahoney, James Robinson and Robin Wentworth could not be reached for comment for this story.



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