Official discusses lack of new jobs

GLOVERSVILLE – New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli visited Fulton County on Monday and discussed how great job growth on the state level has not occurred in Fulton and Montgomery counties.

DiNapoli spoke at the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast event at the Holiday Inn Johnstown-Gloversville.

DiNapoli covered a range of state topics before hitting on several local issues, including the stagnant job growth the two counties have seen since the recession.

DiNapoli said the state is trending toward recovery and all the indicators are “pointing in the right direction.” He said the state overall has had a return of all jobs lost in the recession; roughly 360,000 jobs were lost, but 413,000 jobs have been created since that time. He said job growth has risen in areas of New York City by as much as 200 percent.

However, DiNapoli said, much of the state besides the city hasn’t seen the same job creation.

“Virtually every other part of the state north of the downstate suburbs has yet to grow back the jobs to where they were before 2008-09,” DiNapoli said. “It has been uneven across the state. It’s pretty clear at this point Fulton and Montgomery counties have stayed virtually flat in terms of job growth since the recession.”

He said it’s a challenge, and his office will be working with the counties to aid job growth here.

DiNapoli said the two counties do have advantages to help lure development because of an educated workforce, due in part to Fulton-Montgomery Community College, and their proximity to the Thruway.

He also praised the recently merged chamber for it’s regional approach. The cooperation between the two counties at the chamber level will create an inviting atmosphere for future businesses, DiNapoli said.

“We are marketing the area and we have a lot of initiatives going on right now with education,” Chamber President Mark Kilmer said. “It’s just a matter of staying on top of things and being an inviting atmosphere to draw new businesses.”

DiNapoli also spoke briefly on his office’s audit of Montgomery County’s finances where his staff took issue with the county’s routine use of savings to balance its budgets.

“It’s a very common problem among municipalities right now,” he said. “We’re always available to help.”

The state comptroller’s audit, which covered Jan. 1, 2010, to May 31, 2013, criticized the county Board of Supervisors’ financial practices, including the way the board uses the fund balance.

In two of the last three years, the audit said, the county has faced operating deficits.

As of the end of 2012, Montgomery County reported a fund balance of $11.4 million in the general fund. Compared to Jan. 1, 2010’s total of $19.2 million, there was a drop of 41 percent, or $7.8 million.