GLOVERSVILLE – Mayor Dayton King on Tuesday called for the city to spend up to $15,000 to overhaul the city’s comprehensive plan and asked the Gloversville firefighters’ union to help lower personnel costs.
“We currently have a document that states what we have in our city, but not where we are going,” King said in his State of the City address in front of the Common Council at City Hall. “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.”
He urged the Common Council to appropriate $10,000 to $15,000 toward an overhaul of the comprehensive plan, which he also referred to as a master plan.
King said today a professional master plan can cost $70,000 to $80,000 to develop, but he is confident the city can get help from organizations and private investors to help with the cost.
He said a new master plan would become the marketing plan for the city.
“We have a lot to offer people and businesses that are looking for a place to live or locate a company,” the mayor said in his address. “We need to do a better job of telling people about our resources and plans for the future.”
First Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth said she supports revising the comprehensive plan.
“I’m very much in favor of it and I think this is the direction we need to go,” Wentworth said this morning. “I will it bring up for discussion in the new standing committee, the Economic Development and Planning Committee, meeting.”
King also said the city will need help from the Gloversville Fire Fighters Association to reduce personnel costs.
“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,” King said in his address. “The minimum manning and no-layoff clauses are luxuries this city can no longer afford. I am happy to pay 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.”
The mayor previously explained the Fire Department has seven people on shift at all times as required by a contract clause. He said removing the clause could save the city $100,000.
In his address, King said, “The GFFA must come to the table and work with us to find a contract that works for everyone.”
Fire Chief Beth Whitman-Putnam today said the firefighters are willing to work with the city this year and understand the fiscal troubles the city faces.
She said a memorandum of understanding regarding staffing between the department and city was agreed to in 2011 and extended in 2012.
She said under the conditions of the memorandum, the department is down three positions from the normal overall staffing level.
“The firefighters wanted to address the fiscal concerns that were facing the city,” Chief Whitman-Putnam said. “The actual contract has expired and the firefighters are prepared to go to negotiations to address these issues to save some money.”
Gloversville Fire Fighters Association President Brandt Minkler didn’t return phone calls seeking comment before press time today.
Wentworth said she hopes the city and union can work out an agreement.
“I think there is work to be done between the city and the Fire Department union,” Wentworth said.
The mayor also said the new Walmart Supercenter will help the city by providing sales and property tax revenue and new jobs. The store, which is under construction off South Kingsboro Avenue Extension, is scheduled to open later this year.
“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,” King said.
He said the area surrounding Walmart soon will be a central business district in Fulton County. He addressed the need to build an access road and curb cuts on Route 30A between South Kingsboro Avenue and Steele Avenue.
King said there are too many government officials for the population.
He said he would like to see a council member run for Gloversville supervisor in the coming year.
“This is allowed and currently happens within New York state,” King said. “We need to have people at county board meetings who represent Gloversville taxpayers.”
In his address, King also talked about efforts to improve downtown. He said the city is working hard to keep taxes and spending down.
He said he gets good ideas from what people post on his Facebook page.
He praised new Police Chief Donald VanDeusen for increasing visibility of officers and decreasing crime.
He said the city is increasing recreational opportunities. Among them is the new ice-skating rink at Littauer Field, he said.
King concluded his address with high marks and expectations for the city.
“If we choose to be part of the solution instead of the problem and take responsibility for our own actions, we will succeed,” King said. “If we ask questions and seek the truth instead of assuming we know the answers, we will take this city from good to great.”
Levi Pascher can be reached by email at [email protected].