Posts Tagged With: Common Council

Amsterdam’s Administrator of Economic Development


 

With a forty-five thousand dollar salary in place for the City of Amsterdam Administrator of Economic Development, a search for the proper candidate will soon take place.  During last night’s Common Council Meeting, Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis referred to the city charter when reminding the Alderman, the position is filled  by Mayoral appointment.  Let’s take a look at what the charter states the duties of the Administrator of Economic Development really are.  Some people will be in for a few surprises.

Article XXII
Community and Economic Development Department (§ C-149 – § C-150)
[Added 5-20-1997 by L.L. No. 5-1997]
§ C-149
Establishment of Department.
A Community and Economic Development Department shall be headed by an Administrator appointed by the Mayor, with Common Council approval, for a term of office coterminous with the Mayor’s term, to serve at the Mayor’s pleasure.
§ C-150
Duties of Administrator.
The duties of the Administrator shall be as follows:
A. To act as a full-time administrator of the Urban Renewal Agency and Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency offices to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive approach to community and economic development within the City of Amsterdam.
B. To develop and administer a combined and integrated staff to support the Urban Renewal Agency, Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency and other community-based programs recognized by the Common Council.
C. To administer and keep detailed financial records according to generally accepted accounting principles for each of the above respective departments, programs and volunteer initiatives.
D. To aggressively seek, prepare, review and administer all aspects of grants sought by the City of Amsterdam and maintain detailed financial and administrative records of every grant received by the City.
E. To appoint, with the Mayor’s approval, project managers when grant budgets permit for various projects that may come under the jurisdiction of this Department, after seeking the advice of the Board of Directors of the agency involved.
F. To oversee all volunteer community-based initiatives, recognized by resolution of the Common Council, and to provide administrative services and technical support to the various community-based initiatives so recognized.
G. To coordinate the financial affairs of the Community and Economic Development Department with the City Controller.
H. To assist the City Planning Commission in updating the City’s current Master Plan.
I. To advise and coordinate with City and county planning offices.
J. To undertake any other community and economic development duties deemed necessary by the Mayor.

Full-time administrator of both Amsterdam Urban Renewal and Amsterdam Industrial Development Agencies and act as accountant for both agencies!

Develop and administer staff for both offices any other community based projects recognized by the Common Council.

To develop and administer grants. Why did the budget just pass with separate funding for a grant writer?

What Mayor Ann Thane thinks the job description should be:

CEDD Draft Job Description

MISSION
The City’s Community & Economic Development Department provides leadership and technical assistance to business, residents and elected officials to:
– Provide direction and momentum for revitalization of the City’s commercial and industrial areas;
– Maintain a business friendly and investment friendly atmosphere to encourage economic development;
– Provide a system for sustainable development and preservation of the City’s historic fabric;
– Develop and support activities and programs that increase the quality of life in the City of Amsterdam

RESPONSIBILITIES
The CEDD is responsible for the areas of economic development, planning, downtown redevelopment, historic preservation and physical regeneration of the City. This includes retail and industrial development assistance, staff support to City boards and not-for-profit community organizations, marketing, comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance revisions, and historic landmark designation.

MAJOR SERVICE ACTIVITIES
– Assist new and existing businesses with expansion or retention projects.
– Develop and Assist a Downtown Amsterdam Business Improvement District (BID).
– Provide staff support to the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Micro-enterprise Committee.
– Develop/update marketing materials for ongoing economic development in the City.
– Provide development planning services.
– Administer the City’s business loan fund and other grant programs.
– Support the city’s cultural heritage and other tourism efforts.
– To undertake any other community and economic development duties deemed necessary by the Mayor.

DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
– Business Data Tracking
– Business Outreach and Retention
– Project and Contract Management
– New Business and Business Expansion Entitlement Processing
– Liaison Between the Local Business Community and City Resources
– Overall Management of Marketing and Economic Development Efforts

General Assistance
The Department of Community Development will provide a number of services to make the process of opening or expanding a business as easy as possible. The Department will provide direction on what permits are needed and who needs to be contacted. The Department will act as a liaison with other economic development agencies such as the Amsterdam Industrial Agency, Amsterdam Urban Renewal Agency, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency, and the Empire Zone, and act as an advocate for businesses with other city departments.

Revolving Loan Fund
The Department of Community Development will develop and administer a City Loan Fund. Businesses that create or retain jobs in the City of Amsterdam may be eligible for assistance. Example: A business can obtain loans of up to $30,000 for equipment, real estate acquisition or improvements, or working capital. Loans can be obtained for to 5 up years. Current rates may be the prime rate -1 for targeted businesses such as manufacturing and niche retail or restaurants. Other businesses receive a prime +1 rate. Decisions on loans will made by a committee of local peers who run businesses or live in Amsterdam.

At last night’s meeting of the Common Counsel she added Communications to include updating the City’s website to that list.

The Common Council needs to decide if the job description in the Charter should be changed. If left to her own devices, Queen Ann would have the poor Administrator at her beck and call.  A personal servant to walk two steps behind her and to the left to pick up anything she may have dropped along the way.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Queen Ann Prevails!


Amsterdam’s Mayor Ann Thane got her wish at the June 19, 2012 meeting of the Common Council. Despite the large public outcry, the budget committee voted to fund a $45,000. Economic Development Director proposed by the Mayor.  Alderman Richard Leggiero proposed the position be removed from the budget, only to be met with an extremely long-winded soliloquy from Mayor Thane as to why it should stay in.  The only other changes to the budget so vehemently opposed by the taxpaying public were a reduction in the proposed raise for Corporation Counsel from $15,000 to $6,000 and a reduction in the sanitation rate to bring it under the 3% tax cap proposed by Alderman Gina DeRossi. Apartment buildings with 4 or more unit may now install water meters instead of paying a flat rate. That was changed for favored son William Petrosino’s Guy Park Avenue School/apartment building. The Assistant Recreation position remained in the budget as did other raises for appointees and grant writing. The Aldermen increased the budget for more laptops, printer and software for themselves. Alderman Isabel stated that Amsterdam would likely see a large budget increase from the dissolution of the insurance trust from the County.

The official property tax is now $15.14 per thousand. Flat rate water fee is $346.53/year, Sewer $271.36/year, Sanitation $223.75/year.

With Corporation Counsel acting as the Controller inputting changes in his laptop computer and dictating the results, the modified budget passed. 5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero voted NO to the modified budget and Controller Ron Wierzbicki abstained from all budget votes.  Alderman Joe Isabel who stated he would vote no to the proposed $45,000 position, flip-flopped and voted YES to a one year trial. The Aldermen also wanted in on the selection process. Corporation Counsel reminded the Aldermen that the Economic Development position was a Mayoral appointment.

There were also various year-end changes to departmental budgets and a proposed city employee insurance plan sent back to committee.

The people spoke, the Mayor and majority of the Budget Review Committee ignored them!

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Queen Ann Makes Another Appearance


I know she means well, but you would think after nearly four years in office, Mayor Ann Thane would know the job by now. Today’s article in The Recorder proved that she does not, stating she would veto the two resolutions that she proposed (as a member of the Common Council) that were not passed. There is also discussion going on about this on Kraebel’s blog.  The issues at hand are the $45,000. parking lot expenditure discussed in my previous thread and a contract to produce more plastic banners for the City.

The Mayor’s veto power only extends to legislation approved by the Common Council and presented for signature as described in Amsterdam’s City Charter:

§ C-32. Mayoral veto.

A.   Except as may be otherwise provided by Charter or by law, every local law, ordinance and resolution, except a resolution relating to the government of the Common Council or to the appointment of officers, shall, within three working days following enactment of adoption by the Common Council be certified by the Clerk and presented to the Mayor for approval or veto.

B.   The Mayor shall, within fifteen calendar days following certification of a local law, ordinance or resolution enacted or adopted by the Council, affix his signature of approval or veto upon enactment. If the Mayor shall fail to act within fifteen calendar days, the enactment shall be deemed to have been approved by the Mayor.

C.  If the Mayor shall veto an action of the Common Council, he shall return the proposed enactment to the City Clerk for transmittal to the Council together with a statement of reasons for Mayoral disapproval. At any meeting of the Council within 15 days after receipt of the Mayor’s veto, the Council, by a majority plus one vote of the authorized number of Alderman, may override the veto.

[Amended by L.L. No. 11-1989, ref. date 11-7-1989]

When the Mayor acts in this way, she is acting more like a monarch than an elected official in a democratic society.  So once again I dub her Queen Ann of Amsterdam. Before I get any more hate mail from Dan Weaver, this is political satire with no malice intended. Mayor Thane has a copy of this image presented to her by one of her constituents and even she found it funny. Sorry Mr. Bookhound, but it looks like you are lacking a sense of humor.

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

Council Takes Two Steps Back


The tentative City of Amsterdam budget that included removal of a 3% tax cap, a 10% increase in retiree health contributions and a 17% increase in water fees was struck down last night by a vote of 4 to 3.  Mayor Ann Thane, Controller Heather Reynicke and Alderman William Wills voted FOR the proposed budget, while Aldermen Richard Leggiero, Joseph Isabel, Julie Pierce and Gina De Rossi voted AGAINST the budget.

The Common  Council is obviously feeling the effects of the taxpayer revolt exhibited in local blogs, on Facebook and through emails and phone calls. Montgomery County Legislator Karl Baia has taken up the cause with a petition signed by citizens against removing the 3% tax cap established by voter referendum. Montgomery County Business Development Center Director Ken Rose has issued a letter to City Hall expressing his concern of how the removal of the tax cap will negatively affect current and potential businesses in the County. There are also two pending lawsuits if the City does try to remove the 3% tap and utility fee cap. A large group of retired police officers and firefighters blasted the Common Council at Tuesday nights meeting concerning both the proposed 10% increase in retiree heath contributions and the removal of the 3% tax cap.

I sat through the Council meeting that lasted nearly two and a half hours. The public participation segment was the longest. Here are a few excerpts:

Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis and Aldermen Leggiero, Isabel, Pierce and DeRossi hold a private meeting before the start of the Amsterdam Common Council meeting held on May 3, 2011.

A retired City of Amsterdam Police Officer addresses the Common Council about the proposed 10% increase in retiree health insurance contributions, the proposed elimination of the 3% cap on taxes and fees put in place by mandatory referendum and paying the Montgomery County 911 bill of about $3,000. for last winters activation of the emergency phone system to get residents to move their cars during a snowstorm.

Vincenzo (Jim) Nicosia demands the Amsterdam Common Council respond to his budget questions. His request is at first denied by Mayor Thane who states the public participation section is not a back and forth segment. Controller Heather Reynicke decides to respond to Mr. Nicosia’s questions about a property reevaluation item in the budget.

Alderman Rich Leggiero, the voice of sensibility, speaks for the people by denouncing the 10% increase in retiree health contributions and the proposed removal of the 3% tax and utility fee cap

When the question of adopting the tentative budget came up, Alderman Julie Pierce spoke up for the group that met prior to the meeting, suggesting they go back to budget negotiations.

There will be a special meeting of the Budget Review Committee on Friday, May 6, 2011 at 6:30PM where they are expected to go back to the table and make the necessary cuts to reduce the proposed budget, eliminating the need for a 10% retiree health contribution and rescinding of the 3% tax cap.

The impact of the failure of the City to establish an on time budget pales by comparison to the proposed budget that would have been approved had the Common Council not come to their senses. This battle is far from over, so continue with all your efforts to persuade our Common Council to bring the proposed budget back to one the citizens of Amsterdam can afford.

Categories: Amsterdam, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Amsterdam Taxpayers Revolt!


Governor Cuomo has proposed a 2% cap to control the ever-growing property tax in New York State which has reached intolerable proportions. A recent study by the non-partisan Washington DC based Tax Foundation group revealed that Montgomery County, New York has the 11th highest property tax in the NATION!

On Thursday, April 28, 2011, the Amsterdam Budget Review Committee agreed to a 17% increase in the City water fee, eliminating the 3% cap on utility fees and taxes instituted in 2004 by public referendum. This betrayal by our elected officials is a slap in the face to each an every citizen of this City who voiced their desire to institute the cap.

This violation of the public trust is also illegal without a mandatory referendum because it changes the powers of our elected officials.

Municipal Home Rule Article 2

§ 11. Restrictions on the adoption of local laws.

2. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, the legislative body of a county, city or village shall not be authorized by this chapter to adopt any local law which:

a. Amends the charter of the county, city or village, as the case may be, contrary to any provisions of such charter regulating its own amendment. This provision shall not abridge the right of the people of a county, city or village to amend their charter or approve a proposed new charter, where such amendment or proposed new charter is subject to a mandatory referendum.

We must not accept this breach of trust! As taxpayers we are entitled to representation and clearly we are not getting it!

This does not apply to 5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero, who I respect for voting NO to the outrageous budget proposition. He is the only one in touch with his constituency.

Let your opinion be heard! Call and email the members of the Budget Review Committee and voice your opinion. Tell them to go back and make the necessary cuts to bring the water rate back down to the 3% the people agreed to.

I attended the taping of the April 29, 2011 edition of The Show With No Name at the GWIB Coffeehouse on Upper Church Street in Amsterdam where former Corporation Counsel Bob Going, former City Assessor Michael Chiara, former Wells Superintendent of Schools/Amsterdam High School Principal Gavin Murdoch and Mayoral candidate Jim Nicosia discuss the tax situation. In the following clip, the group discusses their disgust with the GASD budget and plans to form a City Taxpayers Association.

There is a plan in the works to file an Article 78 lawsuit against the City of Amsterdam if they go ahead with their attempt to abolish the 3% cap without a mandatory referendum.

This issue is for the public to decide!

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Tying Up Loose Ends


I realize I have not posted here since last weekend, so I thought I would catch up on a few things. My cat Lee had extensive dental surgery on Monday.  An earlier post Pet Dentistry describes the genetic predisposition for bad teeth. The surgery went well but Dr. Murray was unable to remove the ear polyp due to its position deep in the ear canal.  All six teeth and a canine tooth required surgical extraction followed up with injectable pain medication twice a day for three days.

This is Lee on drugs after surgery on Monday.

Here is the dental chart with all the work that was done.

The cat is almost back to normal but will be eating soft food for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday April 12, 2011, I attending the City of Amsterdam budget meeting at City Hall and listened as department heads presented their budgets to the Common Council.  Here is a short excerpt from that meeting discussing the City’s promise to help Centro Civico with construction of the East End park. It was taken with the iPad2.

Thursday I took two Babka Breads and a fresh Kielbasa (from GWIB coffee house) down to my Dad in Hudson and spent the day with him.

Friday I baked a delicious buttermilk blueberry crumb cake.

Today I tried my hand at making fresh Italian sausage.

I have been trying to keep busy and not think about the enormous increase (37%) in water utility fee that was proposed by the City Controller, or the 16.2% tax increase passed by the Amsterdam City School District.

One unit in Amsterdam currently pays $352.89 for water, $267.47 for sewer and $217.56 for garbage annually. A 37% increase will bring water rate alone to $483.45 for one unit.

There has to be a better way than placing the burden on the backs of Amsterdam property owners. These elected officials need to do some real work and STOP SPENDING our money! Privatize the damn golf course so it can at least make money rather than siphon funds from the city. That water bill alone would be a big increase in revenue, aside from the salaries, insurance, capital expenditures and operational costs that the City continues to shell out. This is a sport enjoyed by an elite few that should be bearing the burden of its operation, not the taxpayers!

From a Daily Gazette article dated March 28, 2010 by reporter EdMunger:

The golf course needs upgrades for drainage, clubhouse improvements and cart paths that could cost as much as $400,000.

The city has spent roughly $46,000 each year during each of the past two years to accommodate the golf course’s cost of about $660,000, according to the city’s draft budget and the Golf Commission’s budget request.

Categories: Amsterdam, Cooking, Pets, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Do the Right Thing!


The City of Amsterdam Common Council was reconstituted in 1982 based on the 1980 Federal Census. At that time the population of the City was 21,872 that is 3,252 greater than the 2010 population of 18,620.

Much has changed in 30 years, including the ethnic makeup of Amsterdam that is now 26.2% Hispanic or Latino.

City of Amsterdam total population 18,620

Total Housing Units 9,218

Occupied 7,861

Vacant 1,357

Land Area 5.9 square miles

Density 3,176.3 persons per square mile

We are by far, the most densely populated area in Montgomery County with 3,176.3 persons per square mile. It is that population density that determines how we are represented in City Hall.  According to our City Charter, Ward boundaries are to be adjusted within three months of the issuance of the Federal Census results.

§ C-26 Reapportionment of Common Council representation.

 

Within three months following official publication of the results of each federal decennial or quinquennial census, if such has been conducted, the Common Council shall review the ward boundaries in relationship to the census results and make such adjustments by local law as may be necessary to assure that each ward contains, as nearly as practicable, an equal number of residents.

My research indicates that this Charter mandate has never been carries out (since the reconstitution of the Common Council in 1982). The language in the Charter Law is “shall” not “may,” indicating this is not an optional procedure.

Just as Congressional redistricting is adjusted according to current population statistics, our City Ward boundaries must be examined and if necessary changed to effect equal representation in local government.

The list of 2010 census population by current Ward boundaries should be made public.

To our elected City Council representatives I issue this challenge …

Do the right thing!

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Photography | Tags: , , , , ,

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