City trying to address open positions

JOHNSTOWN — An announcement Tuesday night by a Common Council member that he’s seeking an open city treasurer position this fall culminated a larger discussion about what’s needed for the treasurer’s office and city.

Longtime City Treasurer Michael Gifford previously announced he’s not seeking reelection this year to the four-year position.

“I plan to run for the city treasurer,” 1st Ward Councilman Bradley Hayner told the council during its monthly meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

He was encouraged by several council members to seek the position.

The Republican Hayner of Maple Avenue took over in January 2016 as First Ward councilperson, replacing former Republican 1st Ward Councilwoman Cindy Lakata.

Hayner is employed as a state Department of Motor Vehicles registration clerk in Johnstown.

The announcement came following discussion by two councilpersons about the state of the city treasurer’s office, and city government in general.

Third Ward Councilwoman Amy Praught said the city needs to do something about some ongoing internal control issues. She said the city, prodded by Internal Control Officer Darryl Purinton, has 11 policies and procedures pending   She said there are 24 high risk alerts not being addressed.

“The council deserves answers,” Praught said.

She brought up a situation that will occur at the start of 2022 in which there will be a new mayor, new city treasurer and possibly three new councilpersons. Mayor Vern Jackson has also said he’s not seeking reelection.

“We need to get our house in order,” Praught said. “I am more than happy to address some of these high risk alerts.”

Praught said Johnstown city government department heads should also all have job descriptions, but some are lacking. She said she hopes to obtain more information by the council’s March meeting.

Fourth Ward Councilman Max Spritzer brought up the fact the deputy city treasurer in Gifford’s office resigned with the start of the new year. With that vacancy and Gifford’s intention to leave by year’s end, he said he’s concerned about a lack of “leadership” in the treasurer’s office. He said it was in the city’s “best interest” to fill the deputy city treasurer post fairly soon. He said leaving the position open with the top spot being a lame duck one is wrong.

“In business, you would never do that,” Spritzer said.

Jackson told the council that Gifford is an elected official who makes the decision on the deputy city treasurer. He doubted Gifford plans to replace his deputy.

“At this point, I don’t think he’s going to do that,” the mayor said.

Spritzer responded, “It’s too bad.”

Praught said that perhaps the council needs to hire a consultant to size up what’s needed in city government.

Hayner said a bidding process would be needed and it may take a few months to get a request for proposal out and back.

Praught replied that the city must get something going.

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