by Dave Warner

The Little Falls Common Council passed a local law (in a 5-2 vote) amending the City Charter and Local Law changing the Office of the City Treasurer to an appointed office. A public hearing was held prior to the Tuesday night meeting, in which the council received no input from the community.

The change stated, “The City of Little Falls Office of the Treasurer requires continuity and level of competence which should be assessed by the Chief Executive Officer of the City. Based on this, the City of Little Falls Charter shall be amended to change the Office of City Treasurer from an elected office to an appointed office.” The full text of the law is contained below.

According to Mayor Mark Blask, “There would be a referendum in all likelihood at the beginning of August and a no-kidding vote down at St Mary’s where it would go in front of the people whether they wanted it to happen or not.”

The City Attorney has been working with the Herkimer County Board of Elections on the details of what must happen. “It would obviously have to happen before November,” stated Blask. “Anyone who would want to run should know the position exists or it doesn’t,” prior to the November election.

The estimated cost of the referendum was discussed, but Blask stated that there are no final numbers yet. “We are going to do the paper ballot, which is less expensive. We’re definitely taking costs into account.” He said that only a small handful of workers would also be needed to cover the voting.

“I don’t anticipate that it will be a big expense,” stated Blask.

City Attorney Jennifer Chrisman stated that using the paper ballots should eliminate approximately 50% of the costs.

The discussion also centered around whether we were still getting assistance in the Treasurer’s office.

Dave Petkovsek had previously held the job for 30 years and announced his retirement in May of 2020. Robert Peters Jr. was appointed to succeed him starting at the beginning of this year but would have had to run in the November election.

When Peters left the job, Kathy Prestopnik took a leave of absence from her position as senior account clerk and was then appointed as acting City Treasurer.

The Village of Ilion treasurer, MaryJo Rice has assisted the City of Little Falls in exchange for Little Falls Fire Chief Robert Parese’s assistance with their fire department.

Blask stated, “It’s a work in progress. We do have somebody who’s coming in to help and we have contracted out. We’re really trying to sort of clean up down there.”

He said they are also looking at ways to improve things in the treasurer’s office. “Once we get it cleaned up, we’re on the right track as far as where we need to be accounting-wise. We’re still working through that process.”

Blask also stated that the City is currently in the middle of an audit. “We do one every year where we hire an outside accounting firm to come in.”

Alderman Dave Carpineti said, “What happens if the people when they vote on it, shut it down and say no we don’t want (this). We want to keep it an elected position. We do have one gentleman running, then what happens?”

Chrisman said, “We have a general election in November, and if he’s the only one running, he only needs one vote. By no means should anybody stop doing what they’re doing if they want to run. There is a possibility they can still run.”