Mayor Dayton King said Wednesday the City Charter is clear that he is the city executive and therefore not subject to a Common Council resolution imposing a hiring freeze.
Councilwoman Robin Wentworth, D-1st Ward, disagrees and has directed City Attorney Matthew Trainor to obtain an opinion from state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
While Trainor and King await an opinion from Cuomo’s office on this specific situation, they have a 1996 attorney general’s opinion asserting that the Ithaca City Council had no authority to adopt a local law abridging the appointment powers of the mayor without first getting the consent of voters through a referendum.
Wentworth said Trainor has shared the 1996 opinion but said she still wants a review of the mayoral and council powers in Gloversville.
The council passed its hiring freeze resolution Nov. 24 and when King took office Jan. 1 he almost immediately eliminated the posts of mayoral secretary and legal secretary so that he could appoint Jason Fazzio his executive assistant. Wentworth contends that maneuver violates the Nov. 24 resolution.
“If a resolution is not binding, then what are we doing here,” she said Wednesday, noting that a new interpretation of the council/mayoral powers would also invalidate a similar hiring freeze enacted by a prior council in 2005.
King said the City Charter clearly delineates the mayor’s executive powers versus the council’s legislative powers. “I just want to do what the charter says; I was elected to lead the city’s executive branch and they were elected to legislate,” he said.
At the same time, King said he wants to work with the council and is not looking for a fight over the issue. It is apparent, he said, that the executive and legislative roles were never as defined as they should have been. A council resolution, he said, cannot nullify a City Charter provision.
“I’m not going to be a status quo mayor,” King said, citing a list of city problems that have fallen to him to address.
If the council is concerned about spending, he said, the council members should know that “I’m not going to spend anything that’s not in the budget.”
But, “hiring and firing, that’s up to the mayor,” he said.
Councilman-at-large James Robinson said he is also awaiting a determination on this issue. In the meantime, he said, “in the best interests of the city, [King] is our mayor and we should be backing our mayor. We definitely need to resolve the issue,” said Robinson, who also holds the title of deputy mayor.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Schenectady County