Gloversville Mayor Dayton King has dropped a proposal to merge the positions of city council member and city supervisor after finding slim support for the move.
He floated the idea at a meeting in April, suggesting the city’s interests may be better represented at the county level by a single person sitting on both boards. Currently, the county has six City Council members and six separate representatives on the Fulton County Board of Supervisors.
“I just don’t think there’s any will at the Council to change anything,” King said Wednesday. “I’ll leave it as it is and just try to communicate more.”
King had some initial support for the measure, but not enough to move it beyond a Common Council meeting Tuesday night at which three city supervisors showed up to join the discussion.
Currently, Fulton County towns are represented on the county board by their town supervisors, while the cities of Johnstown and Gloversville send separate representatives.
In addition to streamlining communication between the city and county, King thought the measure could save some tax dollars. City Council members currently have a salary of $3,500, and county supervisors get $8,500 plus an optional 50 percent health insurance subsidy. King had not developed the plan so far as to suggest how that pay might change or what savings could be found, but said as a proponent of smaller government, the consolidation appealed to him, as well as to a few other Council members.
“I think it’s almost a must that some combination of [the positions] happen so that there’s better communication between the two,” 2nd Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds said, adding that he does not consider the idea dead.
He said the lack of communication has been a problem for years. Some agree, but others — both supervisors and Council members — say communication could easily be improved with a few more phone calls or meetings.
“We recommended that supervisors attend once a month and update the Council on what’s going on with the county,” said Simonds. “We’ve asked them to do that more than once. And some supervisors are pretty good about coming occasionally. However, for the most part, most of them do not attend.”
Fifth Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli, who supported the idea initially, said without structural change, it will be up to the Council members and supervisors to work on improving communication.
“We all have each other’s numbers and we can get ahold of each other,” he said. “We just wanted a little more representation at the county level.”
Second Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria, who attended Tuesday’s meeting and served as a Council member from 1980 until 2001, said he was happy to see things remain as they are.
“I think it would be very tough to do both jobs,” he said. “I think both sides have to sit down and make it work. It can’t go all their way and it can’t go all our way either. You have to meet somewhere in the middle and make it work.”
Lauria echoed the sentiments of 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born and 5th Ward Supervisor Gregory Young, both of whom also attended the Council meeting.
Given the meeting times of the city and county and other demands of the positions, a person working a full-time job would be discouraged from running for a consolidated position, said Young, who teaches state and local government at The College of Saint Rose and recently announced a bid for re-election.
“You’ll commonly see a bit of a rivalry between cities and their surrounding county governments,” he said Wednesday. “So the discussions about competing concerns sometimes are really productive and worthwhile. I thought it was a really good discussion last night and I think ultimately keeping the positions separate is the right thing to do.”
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