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Democracy For The Southern Adirondack/Tricounty Area
Thursday, August 04, 2005
 
Glens Falls Issues Forum
On August 3rd, 2005 Greater Glens Falls Democracy For America held a forum on Municipal issues. Our members felt these issues facing the City of Glens Falls were critical and would like to see all of our mayoral candidates respond to them.

*Budget. The City has run up a massive debt in the last few years -- the city is now approximately $45 million in debt. This represents a continuing hidden budget deficit -- debt cannot continue to be piled up. As mayor how will you deal with these issues:
1. Will you cut expenses?
2. Raise taxes?
3. Will you commit go over the budget line by line and remove unneeded small items? Many small items add up to major expense. This was in good part how spending was controlled 94-98 when taxes were held flat and then reduced.
4. For instance, how many cars does the City have? How often does it buy new ones? What are the overall cost of keeping old police cars for other departments?
5. Why not an audit of Water and Sewer? Is there too much overtime?
6. Why haven’t water meters been turned on? What was the point of buying them? Water & Sewer minimums are way too high, and some people, especially seniors, are paying way more than their fair share.
7. How would you keep taxes flat without reducing services?

*Privatization. As mayor what will your stance be on privatization?
1. Are contracts negotiated properly? For instance Earth Tech’s contract says they only have to dig down 14 feet. But some mains are 20 feet deep. Recently a separate contract for $175,000 was let to do excavating work on water mains when Earth Tech refused to do the work. Is this proper? Are other companies being hired to do work Earth Tech should do?
2. Many people feel privatization has been bad for the city, that services have declined.
3. Are city owned facilities properly maintained by privatized operators? Many people are concerned that these companies intend to run City own facilities into the ground, pocket the cash, and then leave and stick the City with big bills for restoring City owned facilities. How can this be prevented?
4. In effect much of DPW and the Tree Department have been privatized; DPW staff has been reduced and Tree Department has been eliminated all together.
5. The Water & Sewer owns a sewage sludge incinerator. It has surplus capacity. How much revenue are we contracting out to raise additional money for the City? Is the City getting the best deal possible?
6. Should the Earth Tech contract be renewed?

*Fire Department. The Fire Department is an area where many people feel major economies could be easily made without jeopardizing safety or services.
1. Do we really need two firehouses? There is a little used park behind the Ridge Street firehouse. Why not expand slightly into the park by expanding the Ridge Street firehouse and eliminating the Broad Street firehouse? This would save on very expensive redundant management overhead. The Broad Street facility could be sold and put back on the tax rolls as well.
2. There is a tremendous amount of overtime in the Fire Department. How can this be controlled?
3. Does the City really even need a professional fire company? Could a volunteer fire company do the job? Why not a feasibility study?
3. Should the City move to a more modern “call man” system as have many other communities? That is, we would still have professional firefighters who are paid, but they would only be paid when they work. Beepers and cell phones would direct them to fire locations. One or two men would remain in the firehouse to drive the trucks. It is noted that the present system of having firemen paid to sleep in the firehouse dates from the 19th century era of horse drawn equipment, before the invention not only of wireless communications like beepers and cellphones, but the telephone itself -- firemen had to be physically in the firehouse to get the message about fire calls. This is no longer true. Isn’t paying men to sleep in the firehouse archaic? Doesn’t it lead to huge overtime since shifts tend to run past 40 hours?

*Consolidation.
1. It has been proposed to create a joint garbage pickup service with Queensbury, and perhaps other areas. This is touted as consolidation, even though Glens Falls presently has no pick up. Good idea or bad? For or against?
2. Why can’t Queensbury do more to help the City? Glens Falls does much to benefit surrounding communities.
3. Is it fair calls for consolidation are always directed at the City and not at Queensbury?

*Tourism. What can be done, realistically, to promote more tourism?

*The Roundabout.
1. Is is really a “done deal?”
2. What happens if it doesn’t work and it has to be taken out? Who pays then? Will federal/state money be available for the necessary remediation?
3. Isn’t it actually a lose-lose for the City? If it doesn’t work out, City taxpayers will have to make a considerable investment to restore traffic. If it does work, won’t it will speed traffic through downtown to other shopping areas? Isn’t slowing down traffic helping bring downtown back? Isn’t that the very idea?

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