Council wraps up budget sessions, schedules May 9 public hearing

The Amsterdam Common Council came to a consensus on adjustments to the municipal golf course budget at a committee meeting on Tuesday. The golf course budget was the last department reviewed after two weeks of budget meetings where council members talked with representatives of the police, fire, recreation, water, sewer, sanitation, and transportation departments. Darren Graf, golf course maintenance supervisor, attended the meeting to answer questions.

Council members agreed to decrease the line for seasonal cashiers at the course by $26,100 to reflect the elimination of three pro shop workers’ salaries. A new contract with Golf Pro Joe Merendo increases his compensation with the expectation that he will hire cashiers of his own to staff the pro shop. At the time the proposed budget was released by Mayor Michael Villa, the contract had not yet been finalized. The line for the golf pro already included a $15,000 increase under Villa’s proposed budget. The council increased that line by another $5,000 to reflect the finalized contract.

Council members upheld a $15,000 reduction to the unemployment insurance line in the mayor’s proposed budget, with the expectation that elimination of the three cashier’s positions would reduce that expense.

Even with the cuts made Tuesday, the golf course fund will still require an approximately $53,000 transfer* from the general fund to meet expenses.

At the end of the meeting, Controller Matt Agresta reviewed all the changes agreed on unofficially by the council. Changes so far will result in a slightly lower increase in both the tax rate and user fees than under Villa’s proposed budget. With the council’s changes, the new tax rate would be approximately $15.8426 per $1,000 assessed value, a 2.0% increase from last year. Total water, sewer, and sanitation user fees would increase by $33.91 per unit per year, a 3.9% increase from last year.

The council has scheduled a public hearing on the budget at 6:00pm on May 9 at City Hall. A special meeting is planned after the hearing to pass an official resolution on the changes. After that, the mayor may submit line-item vetoes to the changes which would require a two-thirds majority vote on the council to override.

A summary of the unofficial changes agreed on by the council so far:

  • Added $4,500 to help fund the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation
  • Added $2,500 to help fund the Horace J. Inman Senior Center
  • Reduced police department personal line by .5% (approximately $14,000)
  • Reduced police department un-allocated insurance by $5,000
  • Reduced police department vacation buyout line by $20,000
  • Reduced deputy chief salary line by $10,000 in anticipation of March 2018 retirement
  • Reduced police department weapons, ammo, targets line by $4,000
  • Added $36,361 to restore police department clerk
  • Reduced sanitation department landfill expense by $15,000
  • Reduced sanitation clean up week line by $5,000
  • Reduced city clerk salary by $2,000 (removing proposed raise)
  • Added 2% to two city hall maintenance worker salaries in anticipation of raises ($1,337)
  • Added $25,000 to sewer department contingency line by appropriating sewer fund balance
  • Added $900 to salary line for recreation program specialist in anticipation of 2% raise
  • Reduced seasonal golf course cashier’s salary line by $26,100
  • Added $5,000 to golf pro compensation line

* Previously, the article stated a figure of $60,168 for the required general fund transfer. However, according to Controller Matt Agresta, the elimination of the three salaries also reduced the amount for NY State retirement and Medicare expenses, lowering the required transfer to $53,000.

Tim Becker

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