Informed vote essential
Gloversville officials need to do everything they can to make sure voters will make an informed decision on the city manager referendum in November.
The Common Council on Tuesday voted to send the proposal to hire a city manager to a public referendum.
The proposal calls for the city to change to a city manager form of government, in which a council-appointed manager would be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the city.
Currently, the city’s elected mayor handles many of those duties. Under the proposal, the mayor would be a member of the city council and preside at meetings.
The proposal also calls for establishing an assistant city manager position, which would be filled by an existing city department head.
If the referendum is approved, the new form of government would take effect Jan. 1, 2018, after current Mayor Dayton King’s term expires.
If city residents are going to make the correct decision, they need more information about the proposal than what has been presented.
So far, it seems all the information the public has been given about this comes from a presentation by a couple of government managers from other cities and Gloversville council members who support the idea.
A key issue here is the perception the proposal is a swipe at King. Without much information to go on, there is a risk the referendum merely would measure the mayor’s popularity – not whether the change would be good for the city.
At the meeting Tuesday, former council member John Castiglione recommended the council delay making a decision and appoint a public committee to investigate the pros and cons.
While the council didn’t delay its decision, it’s not too late to appoint a committee to investigate the details of how a city manager government would work for residents.
The council must make sure the voters have access to all the facts. Forums, even debates, about the issue would be a great way to make city residents aware of what exactly would happen if the new form of government is adopted.
City officials are asking their constituents to make an important decision; the least they can do is give city residents all the information.