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Archive for August 16th, 2010

A proposal put forth by the fourth ward alderman to gut the Mayor’s operational lines for marketing, contractual services and operations will be considered at tomorrow night’s Common Council meeting. The proposal is pathetically shortsighted, overtly political and can serve no good purpose. I have now drafted an explanation of many of the activities of my office so that you, good reader, may be informed of this ill-conceived action.

Marketing funds have been used in the copywriting, design, and production of the following materials:
– website
– printed promotional materials (letterhead, business cards, presentation folder and customizable inserts)
– banners
– signage
– flyers, invites
– printed advertising

Future marketing efforts that will also incur planning, copywriting, design and production costs include:
– website hosting, updates and maintenance
– email blasts
– direct mailings
– web videos
– radio spots
– online marketing in other regions
– murals, flowers, signage & beautification

On average, we get 3000 NEW visitors a month to the City website. The site is regularly used by constituents for information, forms, phone numbers and event updates. We are launching six promotional videos THIS WEEK to further leverage this resource. The current proposal will leave me with less than half of what it costs to keep our website online and without funding for any other marketing efforts.

Most of the marketing revenues budgeted this year come from a grant from National Grid. In my two years and a half years in office, we have successfully raised the profile of the City of Amsterdam in the Capital District. I have attracted two significant development projects (the repurposing of Chalmers and Esquire buildings into apartments; one developer was turned away by the Council and one chose to very publicly back away from Amsterdam). I have been at the forefront of efforts to bring the State Data Center here and continue to work with local realtors and economic development agencies to garner the interest of site selectors for businesses and families relocating to the region because of Global Foundries/Tech Valley initiatives.

I have continuously encouraged collaboration between AIDA, URA, Council, Chamber, GASD, FMCC and the County.

My operational budget goes toward training seminars, trade magazines and materials, professional memberships, travel, office furniture and supplies, and other miscellaneous contractual expenses. The current proposal will leave me $200 for office supplies, which won’t even buy me a replacement toner cartridge for my secretary’s copier/fax machine.

In the absence of a Community & Economic Development Department (the natural entity to handle marketing and the following projects), I now oversee:
– the zoning rewrite committee
– downtown rehabilitation
– traffic re-patterning
– neighborhood revitalization initiatives
– city-wide clean ups
– property disposition
– brownfield opportunity areas rehabilitation

In the past, this department had a director, two grant writers and a secretary. Currently, the City has no grant writer either.

I also oversee the activities of the Engineering/DPW and the Codes Department. Projects include (but are not limited to):
– capital projects (Bridge Street Reconstruction, Chalmers Demolition, Riverlink Park Phase II, Church Street Reconstruction/Repairs – please note: all of these projects were inherited from former administrations that had failed to bring them to fruition)
– demolition of blighted properties
– water distribution/hydrant replacement strategy
– stimulus road program
– Water Filtration Plant improvements
– Waste Water Treatment Plant improvements

Professional engineering services are contractually provided by McDonald Engineering, CT Male Associates and Saratoga Associates, depending on the project. Since my time in office, we have never been without professional guidance or expertise.

I steadfastly advance the seven goals identified in the Comprehensive Plan.

My office shoulders these activities (and more) without staffing and very little funding. Wills now proposes (for blatantly personal reasons) to cut over half of my operational funding. To this end, I would ask, why? How will this action grow our tax base to fund staff, equipment and projects? What is the Wills plan for economic development? Why would anyone on the Council support this action?

This action will hurt the taxpayers of the City of Amsterdam.

We deserve better.

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