Outgoing mayor looks back, unfiltered, on his decade as boss

For almost 10 years — the second-longest mayoral tenure in city history — Democrat Jim Sottile has been the chief executive. Is the city better or worse for his service? The answers from the outgoing mayor are, yes, yes and maybe.

Interviewed last week, 24 days prior to his leaving office, Sottile, 54, talked about a public service career that began with his election as alderman-at-large with then-alderman T.R. Gallo in 1993. The two formed a partnership that ended with the sudden death of Gallo at 41 in January 2002. Sottile, as alderman-at-large, succeeded Gallo and was twice elected mayor — in 2003 and 2007 — his own right.

Mayor Sottile in 2005.

While Gallo and Sottile worked closely on most issues, Sottile said T.R. did not share certain things with him, like specifics on city finances. The way Sottile tells it, he was in for a rude awakening when he got his first true look at Kingston’s books.


“I inherited a financial catastrophe,” Sottile said last week. “I had no idea the city was running a million-dollar fund balance deficit. We had properties on the books, like the brickyard, (on the river) as assets when in fact they were liabilities.”

One of his first orders of business, according to Sottile, was to get the city’s financial house in order. That entailed several trips to bankruptcy court in Manhattan (on the brickyard case), selling city interests in a Midtown medical center off Pine Street and raising taxes well above the rate of inflation during his first half-dozen years in office. His aim, he said was to restore the fund balance. It stood at $5.5 million before being tapped for $1 million this month to mitigate a property tax increase for 2012.

Sottile also moved aggressively to have the city reassessed in 2006 — Kingston’s first revaluation in 20 years. Refusal by previous administrations to address outdated property values was “the very essence of dysfunctional,” Sottile said. He allows that reassessing the city at the height of the real estate market — just before its crash — has created other issues, like sharply higher tax bills from the school district and county. But the mayor contends the city is better off overall; several million dollars worth of previously unassisted property was picked up during the reval, contended Sottile.

Sottile also moved to systematically repair the city’s aging sewer system, “rather than continually attempting to manage crises.” He advises incoming mayor Shayne Gallo to continue that course. Gallo, 52, is the late mayor’s older brother.

Stayed neutral

Sottile, who announced he would not be seeking a third term last spring, steered clear of politics during the intense campaigning that stretched from nominating conventions in June to Gallo’s landslide victory over Republican Alderman Ron Polacco in November.

Slideshow image: Mayor Sottile presents his 2012 budget. (Photo by Dan Barton.)

There are 3 comments

  1. nopolitics

    “Someone committed to the less fortunate” is a very funny line(hilarious, actually) when measured against his bloggate comments on the subject in general in www.yuku.com ulsterpublishingmessageboards . You really have to give him credit though for consistently lying through his teeth down the final bell, and directly controverting his role model Sister Dorothy(who taught him never to cheat otherwise the only person who would be cheated would be himself). He seems to lie in direct proportion to the number of times he is interviewed by the press. What will be next for this pathological liar? Phony deductibles and selling broken down barns as mansions? Hah.

  2. nopolitics

    The huge holes in the road that sunk down so low you couldn’t find them that took two years to fix on Albany Avenue. That “Giant Schupping Sound” continues to “Schupp right along.” Yes, in addition to this appointment being against the City Charter(and this indiscretion, ahem, rubber stamped by the city council, making its own law as it went along and not bothering to repeal the one in place in case it found it worthy of such), it was Sottile’s way to say “My BIGOTRY was BETTER than that of many others(hahahahaha)”. Reminds me of the old time song I fist heard on my paternal grandfather’s 78 RPM recording of “The Robert E. Lee” as a mere boy, just with new lyrics:”SEE them Schup-ping alonnnnnng…HEAR them Schup-ping alonnnnng….you see they’re soooo neat…rrrrrreal sweet…go down by the Lev—ee, right down by the Lev–ee… waiting for the Robert E. Leeeeeeeeee!!(weeeee!!)(I will play it and sing it on the piano and make Mark Russell appear like a creative piker in comparison to his musical political commentary) The “flip side” happened to be “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, which was also done by Mitch Miller and his male singers on television too. Shayne kind of reminds me of Mitch Miller, conducting these singers(or trying to), except without the Goatee(and plenty more hair). I can picture him conducting the singers marching along Broadway some Memorial Day Parade, waving his hands as if trying to conduct with Hoffay the Clown trying to juggle balls with faces of Kevin Cahill on them with his face looking as if it is ready to ask the question “What is my Raison D’Etre?” “Jo-Jo the Clown”, if we could resurrect the kind old soul, would have laughed so hard UPAC would crumble to the ground!!!

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