Local referenda set on supervisor’s term, ethics panel, budget
AMSTERDAM & GLOVERSVILLE Amsterdam Town Supervisor Tom DiMezza is tired of campaigning every two years.
“I get elected then turn around and I have to run again,” he said.
As the November election nears, he’s running for town supervisor for the eighth time since he took office 14 years ago. It’s an uncontested race, so there’s no suspense this time around. He’s more concerned about a proposition that will show up on the town ballot.
On Nov. 5, town residents will decide whether the town supervisor’s term should be lengthened from two to four years.
“I think a longer term would help with continuity,” he said. “A few other towns in Montgomery County already have four-year terms.”
The ballot proposition is DiMezza’s third attempt to extend the supervisor’s term. It failed the previous two times, but he said that had more to do with old voting systems.
“I don’t think short people could see the top ballot lines on the old machines,” he said. “There were a lot of blanks.”
Since his original attempts, the old voting machines were abandoned in favor of printed cards. The town initiative will be on the back of each ballot along with six state-level initiatives. If passed, the change would take effect in 2016.
DiMezza’s proposition is one of three local referenda that voters in the region will decide on next week.
In the city of Amsterdam, voters will have the opportunity to change the way budgets are written. Currently, the mayor works with all five members of the Common Council to pare down funding requests from department heads into a workable budget. If the controller position was currently filled, that person would also have a say.
“It gets complicated with seven people voting on everything,” Mayor Ann Thane said. “It’s unnecessary.”
On the November ballot will be a proposition charging the mayor with drafting a balanced budget. The mayor’s budget would then be approved or tweaked by the council. If the mayor objects to the changes, the council could override the mayor’s objections by a four-fifths supermajority vote.
Thane said such a change would simplify the whole process. Given the city’s well-publicized financial problems, she said, a simple budget system is a step in the right direction.
According to 4th Ward Alderman David Dybas, Amsterdam mayors used to operate under Thane’s proposed system. It was only under the administration of Mayor Joseph Emanuele that things changed.
“And things seemed to work a lot better back then,” Dybas said.
To the north, in Gloversville, City Council members are looking to start an ethics committee. Currently Mayor Dayton King has the power to appoint members to such a committee.
There was one in the past, but King disbanded it when he took office.
“We don’t need an ethics committee,” he said. “The county has one.”
The council is looking to take the appointment power from King so it can go ahead with creating its own ethics committee. All members would be volunteers, so it wouldn’t cost taxpayer money, but King still called the idea an unnecessary layer of government.
“All an ethics board would do is give politicians an opportunity to appoint their friends to positions of authority,” he said.