GLOVERSVILLE — Mayor Dayton King said a Wednesday meeting with Johnstown Mayor Vern Jackson was cordial, although he said Jackson stated unequivocally that his city is not interested in shared services.
Speaking with The Leader-Herald on Thursday, King said he and Jackson had some conversation about shared services and a few of the ongoing issues between the two municipalities during their closed door meeting.
“I think for right now, I am going to concentrate on the city of Gloversville getting better,” King said.
King said the meeting was respectful, with Jackson saying clearly that his city is not interested in shared services.
One of the main sources of stress between the two cities has been a $742,000 unpaid bill to the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility Johnstown owed.
Johnstown officials said Thursday they have paid the bill, but King said he still plans to have Gloversville City Attorney Anthony Casale speak with the sewer board’s attorney to ensure Johnstown is paid up.
King said he has recently learned that a $350,000 bond taken out in 2005, that according to the agreement, needs to be paid first, so Johnstown may still owe $350,000 in relation to that bond.
“The $742,000 may have been paid, but they still might be light $350,000 because they owe that bond,” King said.
King said Gloversville pays within two weeks of getting its spreadsheet of what is owed to the wastewater treatment facility. He said he would like to see a system put in place where there are late fees for the rent not being paid on time.
“I think those types of things will just encourage people to pay their bills on time,” King said.
King said he doesn’t doubt that the 2017 Johnstown budget was passed by their Common Council, but said he wants to know why it was apparently not sent into the state.
“What I asked publicly, and was told privately that it was none of my business, is to show the numbers,” King said. “We are very transparent here in Gloversville. I can give you the exact dollar amount which is in every one of our account right now. Again, it is none of my business to ask the city of Johnstown government their bank statement, however, I do think the city of Johnstown residents are owed that.”
King said Jackson told him he was not interested in consolidation during the meeting, including things such as bus service, sharing an animal control officer and bringing a K-9 unit to the Glove Cities.
Police Chief Marc Porter said on Tuesday that Johnstown Police Chief Mark Gifford called him in the middle of last week to tell him that Johnstown was not interested in a plan to have a K-9 unit.
Gloversville was looking to share a K-9 and officer between the two cities with Gloversville paying roughly 60 percent of the cost.
“They are not interested in a K-9 program. They are not interested in a bus service. They are not interested in sharing animal control,” King said.
King said the city indicated during Wednesday’s meeting that they were not interested in a Smart Waters project. King said during the meeting a council member from Johnstown did indicate to him that they would have liked to have been a part of the Smart Waters talks, which he said the city would have allowed if they had asked.
“I’d like to work closer together, but I’ll let the citizens of Johnstown decide how they want to run their government and I’ll work harder to improve ours,” King said.
King said he believes that both cities would be stronger together. He said he doesn’t want to see a takeover and is instead talking about working together on some projects.
He highlighted the joint wastewater treatment facility as a good example of joint services. He said the two cities couldn’t afford their own plants, but together are able to have one that works great.
“I think we can do the same thing with the department of public works, and the rest of the department through time, it just becomes more efficient and perhaps when somebody calls out sick from one department we don’t bring someone else in for overtime and bring them in from another [city] instead.”
King said he will not get involved with Johnstown’s elections, saying that is up to those who live there.
“If someone wants to step up to do that fine, but at the end of the day, I get to work with whoever is there,” King said. “I appreciate the mayor and everyone allowing us to come in and have that conversation yesterday. For me, it is just not moving as fast as I think it should go.”
King said moving forward, he is looking for Gloversville to be as efficient as it can, including bringing in businesses. He said there is talk of a new restaurant in the city and other items he can’t discuss at this point.
King said he hopes to keep showing people and businesses the value of the city.
“Our economic development is going well right now. We are applying for every single grant we can get. We are looking to save costs were we can,” King said. “I think we are going to be OK, but I’m not good with OK. I want to continue to decrease the cost. I want to decrease taxes, which I think, we will again next year.”
Kerry Minor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.