King eyes more communication with council

GLOVERSVILLE – As Mayor Dayton King prepares for his second term in office, he is focused on improving his communication with the Common?Council.

“I’m working on my relationship with the Common Council members,” King said.

City voters returned King to office for another four years in November. King, a Republican, won the vote in the general election over James Handy, an independent.

“It feels good that what we’ve been doing the last four years is what the citizens of our community want,” King said.

King said it took him a few years to understand aspects of the job of mayor, such as interpreting union contracts.

However, he said, during his first term he has used both traditional media and new social media like Facebook to interact with residents of the city and be aware of the issues that concern them.

“I really put myself out there and I’m accessible almost 24 hours a [day],” King said.

He also said over the last four years, he has communicated well with the business community and coordinated well with the city’s department heads.

However, King said, there were times he and some members of the Common?Council disagreed about issues and it became personal in the public eye.

“The other thing I’ve learned is it’s OK to discuss things privately and not publicize them until there is a real plan,” King said. “There were several times where I floated out a plan-which I might continue to do from time to time-but in some cases you really have to gain support before throwing the idea out there and that’s something I’m working on.”

Members of the council said communication will be the key to unlocking a better working relationship.

“He needs to work better with the council and share important information with the council members,” said 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth.

Sixth Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski said King has improved his communication with the council over the last year, but that relationship can continue to grow.

“He’s doing a good job overall, but as long as he continues to improve on communication I think things are heading in the right direction,” Siarkowski said.

Second Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds said King has done a good job over the last year, but the mayor needs to be more “team oriented” and utilize the council rather than making so many individual efforts to address issues in the city.

King said he will work to improve communication by being humble. He said each member of the council has his or her own vision for the city, and there will be some give and take so the ultimate goal – economic success – can be reached.

“We need to put the past in the past and work together to make our city a better place to work, live and play,” King said.

King said he’s also been working on communication with the employees in the different departments over the last few weeks.

The mayor said he has already spent an eight-hour shift with a Department of Public Works crew and spent a 24-hour shift with a battalion in the fire department. King said he plans to do similar things with the various departments as things move forward because nothing opens up a relationship like the boss “working by your side rather than in an office.”

“Any person in any profession will respect the boss more if he is taking the time to help and understand what they are doing on a daily basis,” King said.

Siarkowski gave King credit for seeing that the development of Walmart actually came to a conclusion.

“He didn’t start it but he definitely saw it through,” he said.

King this year also received some heat for not keeping up with his mileage logs and his use of the city vehicle, though Councilman-At-Large James Robinson recently notified the council that King is currently up to date.

The next four years

The mayor said the three big things he will try to address in his second term are communication and collaboration within the city and with other municipalities, as well as the sharing of services to reduce cost.

King said he aims to forge a stronger relationship with the city and town of Johnstown. He said the downtown grant the Glove Cities are pursuing jointly is a major factor to having a better relationship with Johnstown going forward.

King also said he has had several conversations and meetings with Johnstown mayor-elect Michael Julius about moving both cities forward, which have been positive.

King said the city had been fiscally conservative the last three years, allowing the fund balance to be more than $3 million. The Common Council approved the 2014 budget, which has taxes go down by 40 cents in the city next year, a decrease of nearly 2 percent.

However, he said there aren’t going to be any pleasant surprises going forward, so unless the city has drastic cuts in expenses or a lot of economic upturn, the tax decreases won’t be continuing.

He said to increase the fund balance and ultimately lower taxes further, the city will need to find new sources of revenue, which can be improved if the city increases its marketing efforts to the Capital Region and works closer with the area Chamber of Commerce.

He said people in the surrounding counties know about Gloversville, but those in the further parts of the state need to be aware of what the city has to offer.

King said much of that can be included in the update to the comprehensive plan, which will be completed over the next year.

He said he’s excited for what the future holds in the area around the Walmart Supercenter in the city, and believes within the next five years several other businesses will jump on the trend to build along Route 30A.

King said a lot of the city’s problems related to having a new mayor every four years, all of whom often had separate agendas.

He said in the next four years, because the “right people are in the right places, we are going to keep moving forward.”

On New Year’s Day, King will become the first incumbent mayor in the city to serve a second consecutive term in more than 40 years.

According to the city’s website, the last mayor to be re-elected to consecutive terms was Richard H. Hood, when he served from 1962-69.

The mayor said it’s still “too soon to tell” if he will go for a third consecutive term in the future.

The position of city mayor carries a four-year term and following raises in the 2014 budget will pay a yearly salary of $41,034.