PLATTSBURGH — When Donald Kasprzak became mayor of the City of Plattsburgh on Jan. 1, he was not intimidated in the least by the enormity of the job he was about to embrace, as some previous mayors have admitted to."I was not worried about becoming mayor at all. I worked for seven years as a regional director for State Parks and Recreation, and I had 435 people working under me, and I knew that experience would serve me well," Kasprzak said Tuesday as he reflected on the first 100 days of his administration."Not many others can say they could bring the level of experience I had to this job."Kasprzak, 51, took over a city in tough financial straits.The council approved a 35-percent tax-levy increase for 2006 and was looking at a similar increase for 2007 before making about $1 million in cuts to get it down to a 14.35-percent increase.The city still faces about a $1 million shortfall in the fund balance.Kasprzak ran for mayor on the promise that he would right the city's financial ship and put an end to wasteful spending.His biggest challenge in fulfilling that promise, he said, has been to convince some city employees that things had to change."I would say the mind-set of some of the city workforce was probably not going in the direction I had hoped it would; however, we do have some very good employees, and they mean a great deal to this city," Kasprzak said."But I think the message has been received that the city taxpayers want everyone to be accountable every day."In his first 100 days, Kasprzak has dueled with Fire Chief James Squires over improperly booked compensation time, called for a city-wide audit by the state, launched an investigation into the Recreation Department for alleged payroll fraud and had to find a new councilor for Ward 3.Difficult situations do not deter him, he says."The job is exactly what I expected."He has gone to work every day since taking office and has made limited public appearances."I am a hands-on mayor, and I believe I am best serving the city by being here in City Hall and working for the benefit of the taxpayers."That's just my style, and I really believe that is what is needed right now to address the issues we are facing."The public appears to appreciate it.During a recent lunch outing, Kasprzak was greeted by dozens of people offering congratulations and support. And many of them didn't even live in the city."The public support I have received has been tremendous," Kasprzak said."It is one of the proudest feelings I've ever had."While the first 100 days may have been what he expected, Kasprzak said he knows there is plenty more work to be done.First off, he wants to finish a city-wide policy manual for all employees and council members."I guess that was the biggest surprise of the first 100 days — the lack of policies in place," he said.He also needs to hire a chamberlain and create a new Web site for the city."A good Web site is critical for marketing the city, and the one we have now is not very good."The mayor also said he is looking forward to some good news."We have the Gateway project (Durkee Street) moving forward, we have Laurentian Air (airport) coming in, and we are still going to have a Mayor's Cup despite the budget cuts for that," he said.Kasprzak said the Mayor's Cup, even if it is only two days this year, is a much-needed morale booster for the city."I may not be the karaoke mayor, but we will still have a Mayor's Cup, and it will be good."Kasprzak was elected to fill the final year on former Mayor Daniel Stewart's term. He said he will run again this fall for a full three-year term."There are more things I want to accomplish and more work to be done."Councilor Michael Drew (R-Ward 1), who ran against Kasprzak in a Republican primary last September and lost, said that so far the new mayor has done well."I think he has spent the majority of his time learning all of the aspects of the city and trying to get a sense of how he can improve the city," Drew said."I'd say so far, so good, but the true test will come in the fall when the budget comes."Councilor William Provost (D-Ward 6), whom many consider the political polar opposite of Kasprzak, is also impressed by the new mayor."Everything I hear on the street is good, and people seem to think he's doing a good job," Provost said."And from where I sit on the council, he is doing a good job, and he is the right guy for this time in the city's history. He's not afraid to shake things up."Kasprzak said he will start budget work this summer in preparation for delivering his proposal by the Oct. 1 deadline."I believe we have to watch every dime that is spent, and I will continue to do that and do what is right for the taxpayers of this city."The people will be the judge of whether I've done a good job or not."
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|Mayor completes first 100 days on job|
|Written by JOE LoTEMPLIO, Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, April 11, 2007|
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