GLOVERSVILLE - Mayor Dayton King and members of the Common Council argued this week over an inquiry into the cost of recent maintenance in Myers Park.
King and 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth argued about the issue at Tuesday's council meeting, and King read aloud from email messages between them.
Wentworth had inquired in numerous emails about the cost of salt, snowplowing and Public Works employees' labor in Myers Park late last month. The park typically isn't maintained during the winter, but snow was removed in advance of a community Easter Egg Hunt in the park that King had helped to plan and promote.
"This event was also not a city of Gloversville-sponsored event, as a matter of fact, the Gloversville Recreation Commission when directly asked at one of their recent meetings about their involvement, stated that they were not involved in any way with your Easter Egg Hunt," Wentworth wrote in an email. "This was an event done by a group of volunteers who took this on as their own personal event, as stated in the Facebook page for this event. Additionally, according to the Facebook page, 'NO CITY MONEY IS BEING USED," which as we can see, is not true and rather misleading."
King, a Republican who is running for re-election, has had disagreements before with Wentworth, a Democrat.
"I know it's an election year, but this needs to stop," he said.
In an email, King responded to messages from Wentworth asking about the cost of the snow removal:?"I'm not sure I can give you a 'dollar amount,' other than to tell you it was all done on straight time (no overtime or extra pay)," King wrote. "As you are aware, there was an Easter Egg Hunt in the park on March 30th. The DPW made sure the grounds were safe and ready for this event that attracted between 1,000 and 1,500 people (10-15% of our city's population)."
In a response to the mayor, Wentworth questioned the appropriateness of the expenditure.
"There also is nothing wrong with private groups organizing events, but I believe you used your position as Mayor to have DPW do work that they historically have never done and most likely would not have done had your Easter Egg hunt been organized by some other private group of volunteers," Wentworth wrote.
After ?Tuesday's meeting, King told The Leader-Herald he felt the disagreement needed to be aired at the meeting.
"It's politics at its worst," he said after the meeting. "You try to work things out in private, but when that doesn't work, you have to do things public, like I did tonight."
Fifth Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli said Wentworth's inquiry was justified.
"The council's obligation is to be the watchdog of the city's finances," Zarrelli said. "Any time money is spent, it is legitimate for us to ask questions, and I don't think it was a pointed attack on the mayor. I think she just wanted an answer to a question we are allowed to ask. For the mayor to air that out during a public meeting isn't right, and it was wrong for him to read that and do it in a public session."
Jones estimated earlier this week that the cost to plow and salt Myers Park was about $620.
Wentworth said if there was a concern about safety at Myers Park, an alternative site could have been chosen.
The Easter egg hunt was organized mainly by the mayor's wife and other volunteers.
"I never had a problem with the Easter egg hunt," Wentworth said this week. "I just wanted to know if it was cost-effective for us to be doing that and if it was something we will continue to do in the future, because we never did it before. This is taxpayer money and the people have a right to know, and they shouldn't be attacked for asking."
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio said the situation was handled "very badly" and the council has the right to know how much money is spent.
"We ask about a lot of things because that is our job," Anadio said.
Councilman-at-Large James Robinson said he thought the issue should have been handled in private.
"I stressed my feelings to the mayor about it and wished he would have did it in a positive manner," Robinson said.
Sixth Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski said it was appropriate to look into the expense.
"To be honest, I was embarrassed that it was brought up at the council meeting like that by the mayor," Siarkowski said.
Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.