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Gloversville fails to name transit head

Officials: Clarification sought on residency issue

January 2, 2014
By LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - City officials made several routine appointments during the organizational meeting Wednesday, but naming a Transit Manager wasn't one of them.

At one point, Fourth Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio called for an executive session to discuss the employment of a particular employee. At the end of the meeting, the council decided to table the resolution appointing William Walrath to another term as the head of the city's Transit System.

A city resident in November told officials Walrath - a Northville resident - is holding a department head position without being a resident of the city, which the resident said appeared to violate state and local law.

City Labor Attorney Bryan Goldberger's legal opinion on the matter was presented in a letter to the Common Council last month.

Goldberger said Walrath will be able to remain in his position as long as he lives in Fulton County.

After the meeting, Mayor Dayton King said the council is seeking more clarification from Goldberger, on the issue.

"Some of the Common Council members want further explanation from the labor attorney," King said after the meeting. "I'm very disappointed this couldn't happen before [the meeting.]"

First Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth said this morning she does not agree with Goldberger's legal opinion.

"We are not happy with the interpretation from the lawyer," 6th Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski said this morning.

Members of the council alluded to there being an issue with the title of Walrath's position, but wouldn't comment specifically about what was discussed in the executive session.

Walrath's position has been referred to with various titles.

For example, the Fulton County Directory for 2013 labels him "Transit Manager" while the tabled resolution calls the position "Transit Director."

However, according to Walrath his title is supposed to be "Mobility Manager."

Walrath declined to comment on the issue.

According to Goldberger's letter, the "transit manager" position is not considered a "public officer" under the state Public Officer's Law and is not a "city officer" under the charter.

"Generally speaking, department heads/managers are not considered 'public officers,'" the letter dated Dec. 18 reads. "Section C-10 of the charter lists the titles that are to be considered as 'city officers.' The list does not contain the title of 'transit manager.'"

According to the city charter, every elected or appointed city officer must meet the qualifications established by a section of the state Public Officers Law.

However, according to the charter, certain appointed city officers do not need to be residents of the city, but must be residents of Fulton County: city assessor, city clerk, deputy city clerk and commissioner of finance.

King said despite Walrath's term running out at the end of 2013, he will keep working in the transit position.

King said city officials plan to have Goldberger come to the next council meeting.

"I'm confident he will be OK," King said about Walrath's future in the position.

Members of the council have previously said they may look to change the charter to provide clarity on the residency issue, although they aren't specifically saying how or when they would look to change the charter.



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