GLOVERSVILLE - The Common Council passed a resolution Tuesday to authorize Mayor Dayton King to lease office space in City Hall to U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh.
While having the office filled will obviously benefit the city monetarily, it also will allow local officials and the public direct access to make the congressman - or his staff- aware of the problems the city faces.
"It is hard to put a price on having a congressman or even their staff in your building," Mayor King said. "I think $200 is a great price to just have that ability to walk down the hall from my office and have someone at the federal level be advocating for any of the projects we want to do. I think it is the first time in a while a congressman has had an office in Fulton County, and I believe it is the first time a congressman has had an office in the city of Gloversville."
"When the redistricting occurred, we picked up the entire population of Fulton County, so we wanted to put an office in one of the main population centers so that it [is] more convenient for people to come in and visit with the folks from my office and myself when I am there," Owens said Wednesday.
Owens said he hopes having an office in the city will bring him closer to the constituents living in the area.
"The main purpose of it is so we can have interactions and visit with people," Owens said. "Folks can have the opportunity to speak with me and I can learn and make sure we are hearing the concerns of those constituents."
Second Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds said he is also supportive of the opportunity to have a federal politician within the city to address concerns.
"I think having a Republican or Democrat from Congress in our city is a bonus because it allows us to have first-hand contact with a congressional leader," Simonds said.
Simonds said some of the bigger issues he is looking forward to addressing are the new gun laws and spending in Washington.
Fourth Ward Supervisor Charlie Potter said his primary concern, which he will address with Owens' staff, is the need for more jobs in the area.
"We need jobs and job creation because the city of Gloversville has a high unemployment rate," Potter said. "I would like to see Congressman Owens actually interact with the people and visit the seniors at the senior center when he is in town. Not just be here as a government thing, but be a public thing by having more interaction with the people."
Owens said Wednesday he absolutely will visit seniors and get to know the residents of the city.
"We are happy to come back and do that," Owens said. "Those are the types of things we do on a regular basis around the district."
King said at the meeting Tuesday Owens staff will use the office in Glens Falls four days of the week and use the Gloversville office once a week.
Owens said the exact days will be worked out based on need and if there is a greater demand for meetings, more time will be spent in the Gloversville office.
Owens said he has offices in Watertown, Plattsburgh, Glens Falls and Gloversville.
King said there are vacant rooms in the DPW office that Owens will be able to use until his term runs out.
Owens, whose congressional district includes Fulton and Hamilton counties, was elected in November for his third two-year term in Congress.
The lease agreement allows Owens to have the office through the last day of his congressional term rather than the last day of the calendar year - meaning, Owens will be allowed to lease the office from March 1 to Jan. 2, 2015.
The lease states the city will provide Owens with 160 square feet of office space and the monthly rent will be $200. This will bring the city about an additional $4,400 over the next two years and possibly more if Owens is re-elected in 2015.
"We have agreed to a lease with him until his term runs out," King said. "Hopefully, we will be able renew it if he gets re-elected."
Owens said the office will remain open as long as he is in office.