Local Matters

Community Sponsors

September 3, 2009 - 4:22pm

City government

posted by David Green in batavia, budget, city council, government, taxes.

I know there has been a lot of talk about the City of Batavia saving money. Here is an idea that seems to be going around Erie county, lets downsize Council. Batavia seems to have a large council considering the times, maybe eliminating the two "at large"  positions to cut more fat from the city budget might be a good idea. Not sure if it has been looked at, but if we are looking to save money in the city, why not start at the top? Maybe its just me, but wouldnt that be responsible government?

Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 hours 37 min ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
Since city elected officials don't have staff, and get paid a small amount, I can't see how this would save much money. Not that it's a bad idea -- just not sure it would save much money. There would need to be a better reason to do it to get it done.
william tapp
william tapp's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 months ago
Joined: May 9 2008 - 8:38am
i think its worth looking into.government always spends to much money
Mark Janofsky
Mark Janofsky's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 years 3 months ago
Joined: Feb 18 2009 - 2:42pm
How about eliminating all the at-large positions, one ward and elect a full time mayor. The mayor could run the city with an assistant. This would eliminate four city council positions and make the city manager an elected position and independent of the city council. It would add a bit of checks and balances, something the city needs.
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
How about we consolidate the city government away? Oh wait, some other idiot tried that already. LOL. David, you are about to get run over, these people love government. The more the better, if they could they would have a Council person on every street corner. There is a strange form of local-ism here, you can't fight it. I tried.
bud prevost
bud prevost's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 3 days ago
Joined: Jan 11 2009 - 9:12pm
Charlie, who was the previous idiot you are referring to? I never paid much attention to Batavia politics until about a year ago. Who wanted to consolidate, and who opposed it? Thanks
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Bud, Charlie means the proposed consolidation between the Town and City of Batavia. There was a study group that wanted this put up for a vote this year, but they did a really poor job of PR, and there was no way it was going to be passed in the Town. That vote is proposed right now for Nov. 2011.
Karen Miconi
Karen Miconi's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 years 1 week ago
Joined: Feb 5 2009 - 4:48pm
Bud I to like the idea of a full time Mayor. How about you? Think of the money the city will save.
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Karen, How much would you have to pay a mayor? It is a full time job, so if he or she had a job, they would have to give it up. And since they never know if they will be elected a another time, they would need a good pay check, right?
David Green
David Green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: Mar 17 2009 - 8:27am
Although I agree that there is not a large amount of pay per council member, didnt we just cut some city event funding for "small amounts"? seems at the time we are looking to cut where we can every bit would help.
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
David, John just led a charter commission and they looked at all these issues and their recommendations will be on the ballot this year.
Mark Janofsky
Mark Janofsky's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 years 3 months ago
Joined: Feb 18 2009 - 2:42pm
I don’t have a whole lot of faith in the charter commission. The changes I’ve herd of so far do not seem to be meaningful. It’s my belief the members were predetermined by council in the commission’s conception. The general public never really got a chance to contact their council person with interest before the commission members were selected. In fact, I’d go as far to say, many of the good ideas posted on this site were probably never considered.
Beth Kinsley
Beth Kinsley's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: Aug 22 2008 - 9:43pm
Mark - that's quite a kick in the teeth to the commission members who donated countless hours of their time to help this city. I believe that if the new charter is approved, we will not be required to hire an engineer which will save us a lot more money than getting rid of a few council positions.
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
Mark, this might shock you but, I have heard some grumbling about the new charter from Council people. There is a feeling it takes too much power away from the elected people and puts it in the hands of an appointed manager. Some Council people also don't like the idea that the changes make it possible for future Councils to raise their pay without a public vote. I have not read enough to make up my own mind as of yet but, things are not the way you feel they are. Beth is right too, there are some cost savings with the changes. We will have to see how the PR campaign goes.
Mark Janofsky
Mark Janofsky's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 years 3 months ago
Joined: Feb 18 2009 - 2:42pm
Beth and Charlie, I just read the new charter posted on the city web site. My lack of faith was based on the premise they wouldn’t go far enough. In my opinion, they did and they didn’t. Too far: I’m not sure I like the idea of not having an engineer in charge of public works. Everything about public works is engineering. I definitely do not like the fact that someone with no engineering experience is in charge right now. As written, it appears the current police and fire department could possibly be replaced or removed. I’m not thrilled about that either. However, if the police agreed to merge with the sheriff’s department, an army of cops might be a good idea. Not far enough: The city council is a legislative branch of government. They have no business running the executive branch. They’ve done a poor job in the past and the present isn’t exactly giving me a warm and fuzzy feeling. In fact, if what Charlie says is true, they can’t even pick people to do what they want. Instead of giving the city manager more power, go further with a provision for a mayor. However! I must say good job to who ever found the mistake in section 1.1. Has that been there since 1958 or just the last revision? LOL!
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Mark, If you wanted to speak with a council member about who should have been on the Charter Commission, you had from fall of 2007 to April 2008. Everyone also had 18 months to come and speak to the Commission. We studied the Engineer position and we just don’t need a full time, mandated by law, Engineer anymore. Most projects in the past ten years have been paid for by others, and they paid for the engineering work also. If and when the City has an in house project that needs an Engineer, they can hire one for the project and that project only. Why pay the high salary an Engineer gets when not needed full time? And don’t forget the benefits and retirement money you have to pay also. The City Manager did not have any authority taken away, or added to him. He works for City Council. They set the goals and policy for the year and the Manager carries them out and runs the day to day business of the City.
Peter O'Brien
Peter O'Brien's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Mar 4 2009 - 1:24pm
If the council wanted to make cuts, they wouldn't have made the deal with the Firefighters with out some cutbacks.
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Peter, What are you drinking? Some in the city might not think it was right, but the City Council "CUT" 17 jobs in the deal with the firefighters. Maybe they wanted more, maybe not, but 17 jobs is a cutback.
Peter O'Brien
Peter O'Brien's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Mar 4 2009 - 1:24pm
Not the koolaid the council is. They cut the ambulance service and get the firefighters a raise. They did not cut anything with the fire service.
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
What I’m reading is Council and the charter commission should have done this or that. What you are missing is that these are boards made up of common everyday people just like you. The real thing you have to understand is that you can’t get nine people to agree to anything without debate and then compromise. If John wrote the charter himself things would have been much different. If I ran the city by myself things would have been VERY different. Those of you who are calling for a mayor, who didn’t like some of my smaller government ideas, think about who might have been the mayor for the last two years. You might not agree with the highest elected person holding office. Think about the very conservative population in this city and remember that majority rules. Having a large body of people to make decisions creates consensus. It stops radical change, it creates time and process.
Karen Miconi
Karen Miconi's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 years 1 week ago
Joined: Feb 5 2009 - 4:48pm
John, How about someone retired, local, who has an open mind, knowlege of his community, and people, and who will make financial decisions not for himself, but for the greater good of all of us. Maybe someone, like everyones trusted friend, retired police officer John Michalak. Love the guy~ His position as zoning officer doesn't do him justice. LOL No punt intended ;)
Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 hours 37 min ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
Jason Molino and I have disagreed on a few things over the past 18 months, but from what I've observed, he is a hardworking, effective administrator. I realize he's a controversial figure, but he gets things done and arguably is trying to pursue a long-term picture for the city's fiscal health. So, that said, I sometimes wonder how Jason would be as an elected mayor. Full-time administrator with experience and knowledge, but accountable directly to the electorate? And I image if you're going to want to have a serious debate about a full-time mayor/administrator, you've got to imagine people with actual municipal administrative experience and whether you would want them as mayor. Would those be the people you want?
Robert Bennett
Robert Bennett's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 4 months ago
Joined: Aug 22 2009 - 3:36pm
To see the negative effects of a mayor in a large city you only have to look as far as Buffalo. The third poorest city in the country with droves of people leaving every day.
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Karen, How could you write that into law, that only a retired, honest, nice, good person would run, each and every time?
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
Let's not forget the Fast Ferry, the dream child of the last Rochester Mayor. Too much power allowed him to drive that community into debt for years.
Richard Gahagan
Richard Gahagan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2008 - 4:29pm
He said Fast Ferry heh heh...heh heh...he heh heh.
Mark Janofsky
Mark Janofsky's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 years 3 months ago
Joined: Feb 18 2009 - 2:42pm
These issues occur in Buffalo and Rochester because they are one party cities. Their mayor and city council are minions to a single party. The suggestion of a mayor, full time or part time, was to bring checks and balances to the city and assign proper legislative and executive roles. Management by committee is cumbersome and wasteful, especially when the committee is made up of 9. John, I heard about the charter commission on TW public access when I was home sick on a Friday night. Prior to this I didn’t hear anything about the charter review. The commission members were selected 10 days later on a Monday. A week before the selection, I requested clearance for my participation with my employer (this is a must do for me). Before I got an answer, the members were selected. The whole process, at that time, appeared to be for political insiders only. Could you tell me where the council solicited for commission members? Can you tell me where the commission solicited for input? Were meeting minutes ever posted anywhere? These questions are not sarcastic or rhetorical. If this information is out there, I’d like to know where it is. I’ve obviously missed it. Previous to this site, TW public access was the only way to get good detailed information on council meetings. The paper didn’t start picking up their effort until competition arrived. This by far is my worst complaint about city government. Detailed meeting information from council, commissions, boards and committees are not available. Detailed agendas should be posted at least 24 hours (or more) before the meetings. Detailed meeting minutes should be posted within 24 hours after the meeting. Any corrections to minutes should be posted with the minutes of the next meeting. Openings for commissions, boards and/or committees should be posted a minimum of 2 weeks. Unfortunately it appears that I’ve missed public comment on the charter review. I would have said all that is here, above and more.
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Mark, The fact you didn't hear anything about this is not our fault. It was in the paper and on WBTA (I don't know if it was here on this site or not). About 2 years ago, when this first came up, Council decided that each member would pick one person. This was the same method as was done in 2000. How each member went about picking somebody was up to them. You would have to ask your council member how he/she did it. The Daily News and WBTA always made public notice of our meetings. Once in awhile, I also saw it here on this site and I had a few posts here also telling people to please come, but only a few ever did. Our minutes were at each meeting for anyone to see, if they had wanted to. Your issue about Council meeting coverage is nothing we could done anything about. That's up to the media, but your point on competition is well taken. Openings for committees, boards and the like are in the paper once in awhile. But all you have to do is stop by City Hall, get a simple form, fill it out and turn it in. It then goes to Council which then goes over each request. It's not all that hard and there openings on some committees. As for posting other information, speak with your council person.
Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 hours 37 min ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
We've certainly covered the Charter Review a good deal. I can't say we did notice on every meeting -- I remember at least once posting a notice. But we've had regular coverage.
Peter O'Brien
Peter O'Brien's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Mar 4 2009 - 1:24pm
Mark, you are absolutely right about detailed information not being available. The details of a major portion of city spending (the firefighter deal) were not released until the council decided to approve the spending. That is wrong. The public has a right to know what the council is working on in detail before it is completed with enough time to digest it. It's simply disgusting. It creates an elite class. The council now decides what you can and can't see them do. They know better than you how to run the city. They are the all powerful of Batavia. What happened "government of the people, by the people, for the people"? And then to see it pass with a unanimous vote and no public discussion was even worse, especially after the anger that was expressed towards the deal.
Richard Gahagan
Richard Gahagan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2008 - 4:29pm
Elite class in Batavia? are you freaking kidding me, maybe in their own minds, I'm on city council in a rinky dink city thats fallin apart so i must be important thats funny. The union(s) are what y'all should be pissed about. The union kicked their ass and they all said thank you here's some more tax payers money please continue to milk us dry. Does anyone truly believe that any city employee is worth over 100k?
Peter O'Brien
Peter O'Brien's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Mar 4 2009 - 1:24pm
We can't affect the union Dick, we can affect the council.
Richard Gahagan
Richard Gahagan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2008 - 4:29pm
Who's The Union Dick?
Mark Janofsky
Mark Janofsky's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 years 3 months ago
Joined: Feb 18 2009 - 2:42pm
It is my position that it’s not solely the media’s responsibility to supply the public with public information. Today’s public information outlet should be the city’s web site in addition to the traditional postings at city hall, library, post office and then the media. True, it’s not your fault that the information on the charter is not there. However, why the final revision to the charter is on the front page of the city’s web site, but the draft and the meeting minutes were never posted is beyond me. You all spent so much time on this effort, it’s a shame I can’t support it. I don’t think it goes far enough where it counts. Efficiency in government starts with its elected officials. Why does city council require 9.
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
Mark, the city is the most open government we have in the county. Our meetings are televised and if anything, there is too much press coverage for what we are. A small town board. Take a look around, read the paper, tell me what you know about all the other local governments? Nothing at all...
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Mark, We considered reducing the size of Council from 9 to 7. Thing One thing we looked at is that most people like it the way it is now. With 6 wards, you can get to know your representative well if you really want to. The three at large members are to balance out the wards and for someone to look at the city as a whole. But the idea of a smaller council was looked at. Then the idea of allowing Council to have subcommittees, something they are not allowed to do now, came up. Right now, each council member meets twice a month for regular meetings. If approved by the voters, there will probably be 3 subcommittees (Budget, Public Safety or whatever they want to call them). Each committee will probably have 3-4 members. Each subcommittee would meet at least once and most likely twice a month. If we went to 6 council members, that would each member would end up on at least two committees and have to meet 4 to 6 times per month, maybe more. It would get hard to find people who would want to serve if they had to meet 6 times per month. The truth is it is hard to find people now when they meet only twice. If we stay with 9, each member would probably be on one committee and they would meet about only 4 times a month, so we left it at 9. Another reason for subcommittees was that the average person can not always make the regular meetings. Having council members meeting more often means you have more chances to attend a meeting and speak.

Post new comment

Log in or register to post comments

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Copyright © 2008-2019 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button