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Op-ed column: Hope along the Mohawk

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“I’ve never seen this many people in Amsterdam before,” my son said after viewing the throngs of people on Main Street during Amsterdam’s recent Spring Fling. He was born in 1980, after Amsterdam’s population had already declined considerably and after urban renewal had demolished most of Amsterdam’s downtown, so it’s not surprising that he had never seen so many people together at one time in the city. The Spring Fling, which comprised a motorcycle show, ...


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comments

awineberg@yahoo.com
June 5, 2011
6:11 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

What about Mayor Thane's vision for the city's financial future???
Community organizing is nice, but the position of mayor involves much more than planting flowers and planning a couple events.
Amsterdam is in desperate need of a mayor that will take the position seriously. Although Ms. Thane may have had good intentions, she lacked the experience and knowledge that is needed in a position that involves a multi-million dollar budget. Thane also lacks the human resource mngt. skills that are MUCH needed to manage the amount of employees that the city has.
I also think that the last part of this weekly column is a little misleading. Perhaps Mr. Weaver could straighten it out. I realize you run a small business in the city, but do you actually live and/or pay property taxes in the city of Amsterdam Mr. Weaver??? Just wondering!!!

bookhound
June 5, 2011
7:06 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Alayne, Anyone who rents in Amsterdam, pays taxes. You ought to know that. The State of New York recognizes that fact, allowing renters to receive property tax credits. The state assumes that 1/4 of a person's rent goes toward property taxes. Furthermore, I lived in Amsterdam for 27 years, and paid taxes the whole time. Have you lived there that long?

Businesses that are located in Amsterdam have the right to speak up about the city, how it is run and the tax situation.

Don't forget also that as a business, I also collect sales taxes that come back to the city. Do you do the same for Amsterdam?

Wildthane
June 5, 2011
10:13 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

My record of service involves much more that community beautification or organization, though I am very proud of my efforts in these areas.

Ms. Wineberg continually chooses to overlook my successes in the realms of financial stability, administrative accountability, planning, strategic infrastructure rehabilitation, project oversight, and neighborhood revitalization, as well as meeting the goals established in the City of Amsterdam's Comprehensive Plan.

My accomplishments are outlined in this year's State of the City speech: http://wildthane.wordpress.com/2011/01/2...

Thank you for the opportunity to invite your readers to come to their own informed conclusions.

Mayor Ann M. Thane
City of Amsterdam

PS... and a hearty thank you goes to Dan Weaver for his kind words.

awineberg@yahoo.com
June 6, 2011
1:50 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Mayor,

You can continue to tout these so called accomplishments when in reality all anyone has to do is take one ride through Amsterdam, pick up a local newspaper, watch a single episode of a common council meeting or a budget review meeting and realize that, by NO MEANS, is Amsterdam better off than it was four years ago.

During the recent million dollar budget gap your first instinct was not to make the needed cuts, but to go to any lengths to break a tax cap that was put in place, by the taxpayers and voters of the city of Amsterda, to curb irresponsible spending.

Irresponsible spending... such as redecorating the mayors office and city hall before making the much needed REPAIRS to the roof and building.

It will be interesting to see the results of this years election. We will soon find out how many folks actually agree with your dear friend Dan Weaver...or me! Good luck!

ps. If anyone decides to read the State of the City Address, you will very quickly realize that the speech is nothing more than a campaign speech, and does not address the actual state of the city of Amsterdam at all.

Wildthane
June 6, 2011
8:48 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Alayne, I have requested the funds to repair the roof at City Hall for three years. The council has not allocated funding for this critically important repair. In the meantime, we've repaired drainage, windows, retaining walls, and painted. We've reorganized offices and closets. We've turned a storage building into a conference room that gets used every day. We removed asbestos, a health hazard that had been identified but never remedied by the former administration, which doubled the cost of the remediation. The building has suffered from a lack of oversight and proper funding for years. It is now getting the attention it deserves.

Wildthane
June 6, 2011
8:49 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Our spending has been very conservative over the past three years. The year before I took office, the council authorized the Mayor to spend what we have spent in three years. They bought expensive equipment and had to make repairs to a boiler that had been previously identified as problematic but not tended to. Again, the emergency repair doubled the replacement cost.

My accomplishments are real, Alayne. We have garnered over $20,000,000 in grants and stimulus funding to make infrastructure repairs, reconstruct roads, rehabilitate residences, upgrade the water filtration and sewer plants, eliminate storm/sewer cross connections, expand the waterfront park, offer recreational opportunities, plan, and yes, market this city.

Our new A3 bond rating that allows us to borrow at a more favorable rate for capital projects and equipment. That will help when we take down another 30 dilapidated properties this summer (30 were taken down over the past 2 years). We've renegotiated our sales tax agreement with the County which has already brought over $500K to our budget this year alone and have a new agreement with GAVAC that will bring $200K in years to come.

We've controlled overtime costs and readily discipline employees when performance is lacking. We track code complaints, grants, property maintenance, absentee landlords and hydrant problems which had never been systematically addressed before. We have a strategic plan for water distribution improvements (hydrants, valves, water mains and laterals) that we make steady progress at every week and continue to seek funding for. We have regular department head meetings to share information and problem solve. These common sense approaches were not taken by the prior administration.

Wildthane
June 6, 2011
8:49 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Many of the budgetary problems we experience do not come from extravagant spending. They come from escalating health care and pension costs, declining aid from the state, and a shifting of mandates from the state to local municipalities. These are all costs we have no say in controlling. Now the state is going to limit our revenues without addressing the costs they so willingly drop in our laps. This will result in the collapse of government service as we know it. Services will be limited and people will loose their jobs at a time when we struggle to keep up with deteriorating water, sewer and road systems. The state must address these problems instead of shifting their responsibilities to counties, cities, towns and villages.

The efforts we have made to organize volunteer neighborhood associations and clean up/beautify our city are all goals established in our comprehensive plan, as is marketing a healthy image of our city. We are one of the safest communities in the Capital District, we have a great location on the river and off of the Thruway, we are very competitively priced, we have a rich heritage and close community.

I'm proud of my time in office and my accomplishments and look forward to the challenges the future brings.

awineberg@yahoo.com
June 6, 2011
11:47 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Again, I guess the final decision will be left to the voters in the upcoming election and again, I wish you luck! :)

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