All five common council members voted at Tuesday’s meeting in favor of overriding the New York State tax cap, which limits property tax increases to 2% or the inflation rate whichever is lower. Later in the meeting, the council approved changes to the mayor’s proposed budget which were discussed at a series of budget meetings over the past month which would set the property tax increase at 8%, along with a 9.79% increase per unit in user fees. Aldermen Pat Russo, Paul Ochal, and Jim Martuscello voted yes, Alderman Dave Dybas vote no, and Alderwoman Irene Collins abstained.
There were thirteen changes to the mayor’s budget approved by the council:
- Increase salary personnel expense line in general fund to account for 3% raise for all police agreed upon in new labor agreement – $79,470
- Add $4, 500 into personnel expense line in general fund for the police department to account for a sergeant moving up to lieutenant
- Increase all overtime expense lines for the police department in the general fund by 3% to account for contractual raises – $15, 764
- Increase revenue line for police fees in the general fund by $10,000
- Increase revenue line for NYS Aid Court Facilities in the general fund by $17,000
- Reduce codes health insurance buyout expense line in general fund by $14,651
- Reduce recreation contractual line in general fund by $10,000
- Increase salary expense line for golf course mechanic by $10,000
- Decrease food sales revenue line in golf course fund to $62,500
- Decrease inventory expense line in golf course fund to $50,000
- Decrease beverage sales revenue line in golf course fund to $70,000
- Reduce staff expense line in golf course fund to $70,000
- Add $300,000 to contingency expense line in sewer fund
Before the meeting, several residents spoke out against the tax rate increase, which is one of the largest in many years while others challenged the council to better explain why the city is in a situation where it has to make up approximately $8 million in fund balance deficits.
Under the city’s charter, the mayor has until June 15 to submit “objections” or line item vetoes to the changes passed by the council. Those vetoes can be overridden by a 4/5 vote by the council.