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Budget review leaves council with questions

Mayor not present to answer inquiries about new revenue

November 17, 2010
By AMANDA WHISTLE, The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - Instead of dollar signs, Common Council members were seeing question marks Tuesday while reviewing revenue in the city's 2011 preliminary $15.3 million budget.

The budget meeting at City Hall was the second of three meetings the council scheduled to review revenue. A public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight.

Mayor Dayton King proposed several ideas in the budget that could help to close a $1.3 million budget gap. But council members complained he wasn't at Tuesday's meeting to answer questions and had not provided them with explanations or details on how his initiatives could be implemented.

Council members also complained that many of the figures appeared arbitrary.

Although the council has been discussing some of King's proposals throughout the year and a 17-page document, "Speculative New 2011 Revenue/Savings" was distributed over the summer, council members said none of the ideas had been formally discussed or proposed.

Second Ward Councilman John Castiglione still had several questions about a proposal to charge residents for garbage bags, including whether the city had staff to enforce it.

"Again, we were never presented with a plan," said 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth.

The council placed a question mark next to the initiative, which was projected to raise $760,000 in revenue. The council also placed question marks next to $100,000 that would be raised from new storm drain fees, as well as $64,000 projected from an initiative to have landlords register rental units.

A plan to raise $10,000 through contractor fees also was proposed, but council members said they didn't know how King arrived at that figure in the budget.

"It's not a bad idea, but how many jobs to we anticipate? How do we get those numbers?" 5th Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli asked.

King said earlier in the day he wouldn't be able to attend Tuesday's meeting because of a family commitment. He didn't immediately return a call for comment today.

"He's going to be here [tonight], and I'm presuming we'll get most of this settled then," said Finance Commissioner Bruce Van Genderen.

The public can comment at tonight's budget hearing, which will be followed by more council discussion about revenue and a review of the assessor's department budget. The council will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday and Monday at City Hall to discuss the budget in its entirety.

Van Genderen said Monday he estimated a roughly $450,000 gap in the budget, even if the council approves the mayor's appropriations and revenues in the preliminary budget.

The budget needs to be adopted by Dec. 10.

Amanda Whistle covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at gloversville



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