First day on the job for new mayor, lots to do

By Jason Hawk -

<p style="text-align: center;">Mayor Mark Costilow

Mayor Mark Costilow

On his very first morning in office, Amherst mayor Mark Costilow was busy.

He spent two hours Monday conferring with new safety-service director John Jeffereys, then met with law director Tony Pecora, utilities superintendent Ron Merthe, and fire chief Greg Knoll in turn to get his bearings.

After signing a couple of Boy Scout proclamations, tackling email, and taking phone calls about parking concerns – downtown business owners want more – Costilow sat down with the News-Times mid-afternoon to talk about his new job.

“Instead of something big, I want to do a lot of small stuff and watch it all add up,” he said. “I think that’s often better than going big.”

Costilow said his goal in the next four years is to spend small and get a lot for each dollar.

His aims for the next few weeks are also modest: get a computer for the mayor’s office, put tree-trimming and fuel purchase proposals before council, and solidify the 2016 budget.

The latter will begin next week when 2015 carryover figures are finalized, and when Amherst’s departmental leaders present their plans for purchases in the year to come.

Negotiating union contracts with police and other city employees is also a priority, and Monday Costilow was already poring over prior agreements in preparation.

At the same time, he’s working to develop a new tax plan for the city, hunting for ways to keep businesses here and growing. That means meeting with treasurer Richard Ramsey to vet ideas.

“It’s a lot to do,” Costilow said. “And it’s important to remember that I’m not the only one getting used to all this. All our workers have a new mayor to used to.”

He’s pledging to be a hands-on mayor, spending time visiting Amherst’s garage, fire station, building department, and other offices.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

Mayor Mark Costilow

Mayor Mark Costilow

By Jason Hawk