City Council Forwards Five-Year Budget To Mayor; Delays Action On Code Of Conduct

May 25, 2018

The Plattsburgh Common Council held its regular weekly meeting Thursday evening. Councilors approved and then forwarded a five-year budget plan to the mayor. But they once again delayed action on a Code of Conduct.

This is the second year Plattsburgh city councilors have formulated and approved a five-year budget plan. During Thursday’s Common Council meeting they forwarded it to the mayor to begin the 2019 annual budget process.

Council budget officer Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly spent months crafting the multi-year fiscal plan. He says while the process wasn’t difficult, there are some fiscal challenges.  “The cost of health care and the cost of union contracts and making sure that we can afford all the benefits we offer going forward are going to be the big challenges. We’ve paid an average of $300,000 a year in sick leave and vacation buyouts for people who are retiring.  I don’t know that we can continue to do that in the future.  Every time we do that we fail to do things for the city infrastructure etc that very badly need to be done. Sick leave buyouts and vacation pay doesn’t pave streets.”

Kelly hopes unions will work more closely with the city to come to consensus on sustainability. Kelly had hoped the plan would allow the city to save $1 million in the 2019 city budget but now feels that isn’t feasible.  “In the past we’ve had over a million dollars in cuts and that was very very difficult. So if we spread those out over the next several years we get the same effect at the end but it’s a little less pain along the way. So that’s we want to try and achieve.”
Bradley:  “What do you think you will be able to save?”
Kelly:  “Well, our five year plan right now calls for a $650,000 reduction in permanent expenses for the year 2019 and then going forward that number drops gradually so that at the end of the 5 years we will have well over a million and a half dollars in savings. But it’ll be spread out and measured.”

City councilors again failed to enact a Code of Conduct.   In its seventh version, Ward 1 Democrat Rachelle Armstrong says it is close to completion.  “We have been discussing various models and what form they might take. We haven’t gotten to the point where we’re ready to deliver anything specific at this point. And we will expedite this matter as as a you know through the committee structure and present a proposal to the council.”

At the end of the meeting Ward 3 Republican Dale Dowdle questioned Mayor Colin Read regarding new litigation filed against the city.  “I understand the town now has litigation against us?”
Read: That’s correct.
Dowdle: “And is that a new development or?”
Read:  “It’s a development in the response to our concerns over the pattern of payments for Falcon Seaboard. Their contention is that they signed the 1992 agreement with the city under duress.”
Dowdle:  “So?”
Read:  “And their suit is for $1.5 million.”

The city council will update the five-year budget plan next year. Councilor Kelly calls it a fluid document, noting that from the time the 2018 plan was adopted until the end of that year, 17 changes were made.