Council begins 2017-2018 budget discussions

The Amsterdam Common Council held their first committee meeting to discuss Mayor Michael Villa’s proposed 2017-2018 budget on Monday. At the meeting, members agreed unofficially to raise the estimated revenue line for the city’s soon-to-be-established ambulance service from $350,000 to $400,000, as well as restore $4,500 in funding for the Amsterdam Riverfront Foundation and add $2,500 in funding to help support the Horace J. Inman Senior Center. The council has until June 1 to pass an official resolution making changes to the mayor’s budget.

Following a suggestion by Alderman Jim Martuscello, members agreed to transfer the increase in the revenue line, less the two additional expenses, to the contingency line, keeping the tax rate unchanged. However, members discussed the possibility of using that additional expected revenue to restore cuts made by Villa to the police department budget.

Villa’s proposed budget includes the elimination of an existing full-time clerk, elimination of an additional full-time dispatcher, and the elimination of a line to fund the leasing of new police cars.

At the meeting, Police Chief Greg Culick said that the clerk position has been in place since 2009, with duties that include processing paperwork for things such as orders of protection, parking tickets, and warrants. Culick said that before the position had been in place, that paperwork had been done by a police officer for approximately double the cost.

The city currently employs one full-time dispatcher, whose salary is approximately half that of a police officer. Villa and Culick have both stated previously that they support a plan to eventually increase the number of dispatchers in order to put more police officers on patrol, rather than having them work as a dispatcher.

Culick said he had originally requested $125,000 for the year in order to lease additional patrol cars. According to Culick, new patrol cars had not been purchased since 2013.

The council plans on continuing the discussion on the police department budget with Culick at another meeting this Wednesday at 5pm.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.