University Heights Mayor Candidate Philip M. Atkin
Education: B.A., SUNY Binghamton; Master’s in Urban & Regional Planning, U of Oregon, and in Architecture, SUNY Buffalo
Current occupation: Builder
Qualifications: Sr. Planner, Erie and Niagara Regional Planning Board; Director, Urban Design Services, Krehbiel Assoc. Engineering, Tonawanda, NY; Private Municipal Consultant for Planning and Zoning: Towns of Wheatfield, Cambria, Niagara County, NY, and for Seneca Nation of Indians - Irving, Salamanca NY
What do you consider to be an effective working relationship between the mayor and the members of Council?
The Mayor is the elected executive in charge of the operation of the city. The council are elected members of the city's legislative branch to review proposals for the expenditure of city funds. They must be able to respectfully interact to develop a yearly budget, and discuss new programs or services. This relationship should be honest open and business-like.
What are your priorities in developing a budget for the city?
1) I will assess the needs of each department with the department heads, including any new purchases that will be needed. 2) Identify any needed funds for consultants, or for community planning.
What opportunities do you see for regional collaboration between University Heights and other local governments to provide services or facilities?
I believe University Heights has an excellent balance between local service provision, and shared services. The court system shared with Shaker is a good example. Regional collaborations sometimes work out for very specific types of services. But regional approaches inherently entail loss of control and local oversite, so that services may well end up diminished. Regionalization may actually entail additional cost for service, which may increase over time out of our control.
What, if any, specific actions would you recommend the city take to maintain the quality of its housing?
Right now the city is in an upward phase, and its housing is being upgraded and expanded privately by our residents. This has been stimulated by the recent growth resulting from the voucher program. We have had our own building department closed down by the current Mayor, and a private firm is providing services. I would monitor the effect it has on housing.
What role should environmental considerations play in the city’s policies and actions?
We have a variety of existing requirements and guidelines from state and county authorities to comply with. We are not a city with manufacturing facilities. I don't believe there is a need for the city to go beyond what is already in place.