City joins others in grant effort

GLOVERSVILLE – The city will apply for a state grant with four other Capital Region cities in an effort to improve code enforcement.

If the city receives a share of the

$1 million grant, the city would have to spend $20,000 in local funding over two years. The city money would come out of contingency funds, city Finance Commissioner Bruce Van Genderen said.

The cities will seek the grant money through a Consolidated Funding Application. If the grant is approved, Gloversville could receive a $200,000 share.

Mayor Dayton King brought up the possibility of the state Department of State grant funding at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The grant mainly would be used to buy computer software and other equipment to improve code-enforcement communications among city departments and the other cities in the program.

King said the cities – which also include Schenectady, Amsterdam, Troy and Saratoga Springs – needed to decide by today on the application because the application is due Monday.

“This was an opportunity that came across my desk,” King said.

He said code enforcement setup in the city is somewhat antiquated. For instance, he said City Attorney Anthony Casale must go from City Hall to the Fire Department to review records relating to potential violations provided by Fire Chief Beth Whitman-Putnam.

The mayor told the council the University at Albany’s Center for Technology in Government was working on the grant application with the other four cities and Albany, but Albany dropped out.

King said CTG researcher Meghan Cook asked if Gloversville wanted to take Albany’s spot in the grant application.

During the council meeting, Cook spoke to the council via speaker phone on a cellphone.

Cook said code enforcement data can involve violations, updated inspections, hazardous structures, occupied-unoccupied housing, site conditions and land use.

Cook said the code enforcement information-gathering process can be greatly improved.

“There’s got to be a way to share information among the cities,” she told city officials. “You want to be able to share information no matter what system.”

She said there are two aspects of the grant – looking at what data is available now and evaluating what the cities “can’t do” at the current time.

Cook said she didn’t think Gloversville would need more money to keep the improved system going after the original grant funding is gone.

“If you just decided to upgrade your system, I don’t foresee any extra costs,” she said.

The city has to put up the $20,000 in local money now, but officials said the city would not lose the $20,000 if the grant is rejected.

A handout from King that Cook provided stated: “For those governments that do not have a code-enforcement system in place – primarily paper-driven environment – or do not think their current system is meeting their needs, they will have to do some additional streams of work.”

Van Genderen said the software purchase is the expensive part of improving the code-enforcement system.

Several council members initially expressed disappointment there wasn’t more time to consider the application. But many by the meeting’s end thought the opportunity to pay $20,000 to get $200,000 worth of structural code enforcement improvements was beneficial.

“It appears we can upgrade out system for $20,000,” said 5th Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli.

Second Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds added, “I think it’s a great idea.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.