• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

Council sets November 8 public hearing on $20 million budget

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Nov 2, 2022

GLOVERSVILLE — Gloversville City Council set a public hearing date for the city’s $20 million budget in 2023 on Tuesday evening Nov. 8, after approving the latest spending cuts and a revenue boost that have increased the budget deficit to $2.15 million.

Only one town resident attended the special meeting, Rennie Sanges, former chairman of the Gloversville Planning Board. Sanges said he was puzzled that the city could legally pass a budget with a deficit.

“I think budgets are important to the city, and I think the council is doing a good job, but the public needs to be involved,” Sanges said.

Gloversville’s projected budget deficit for 2023 is funded using $2,155,000 of the city’s estimated $7.8 million reserve for unspent revenue, allowing the spending plan to meet the legal requirements of New York State for a municipal “balanced budget”.

DeSantis at Tuesday’s special meeting told the board that the city’s projected deficit would likely be significantly lower at $2.15 million,

“One of the things we’ve done over the past few years is we’ve significantly understated our revenue and that’s allowed us to come to the end of the year in much better shape than we expected,” he said. he declared. “Overall, it is quite predictable that when you have these union contracts (for civil servants) and you have to renegotiate these contracts, it is always more expensive after you have renegotiated than before, and so on. is almost acquired. On top of that, it always costs more to run the city every year.

DeSantis said talk of a “fiscal cliff,” oft-talked about by former city finance commissioner Bruce Van Genderen, has been talked about in Gloversville for years and never actually materialized.

“(Van Genderen) estimated that in 2020 we were going to hit that budget cliff,” DeSantis said. “I remember talking to him about it, and he said that one of the things that improved our income was the opening of the Walmart Supercenter within the city limits. And he said he didn’t see anything on the horizon that would increase our income. So the only thing we can do to avoid insolvency is to grow. So the idea is that we have to increase our population. We have to develop our business activities in the city and we have to improve the quality of life in the city, so that we have more people, more construction — whether it’s residential construction or commercial construction. So everything we spend is an investment to foster growth, and that’s what we did.

DeSantis argued that it’s clear the city’s revenue has grown in recent years despite whether the city’s property tax rate is holding steady or falling.

At the special meeting, Gloversville Finance Commissioner Tammie Weiterschan said the city collected $16.7 million in revenue in 2017, which rose to $19.8 million for 2021, with the city being on track to raise $19.7 million by the end of 2022.

The city’s 2023 budget, however, projects only $18.3 million in revenue, in part because it leaves the city’s total property tax estimate at $7.6 million and the projection of sales tax at $4.5 million.

DeSantis Tuesday night, it seems likely that construction spurred by the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant will boost those revenues.

Sanges said he doesn’t understand why city officials are anticipating revenue increases but not including those increases in the city budget.

“That’s my biggest concern,” he said. “As the mayor was just talking about. He thinks we’re going in the right direction, and I think so too, but so it should be in the budget. If they think we’ve historically gotten more revenue, then that should be in the budget.

Gloversville’s projected budget shortfall, which started at $3.1 million at the start of the council’s budget process, has often been used as a reason for not supporting different initiatives proposed by the city, including spending approximately $8,000 proposed for “before and after” day camp supervision. for city kids attending the Gloversville Recreation Commission’s summer day camp program.

Council eventually decided to allow the town clerk to survey parents to see if they would be willing to pay for the service, but eliminated the budget line for expenses. Council members said they may reconsider before the summer recreation program begins, but will only support the concept if enough parents have agreed to pay for the extension of hours needed for program counselors summer recreation to provide supervision.

The lack of available child care has often been cited by New York State economic development officials as a key factor discouraging parents from fully engaging in the workforce, prompting some local governments to explore ways to provide the service.

DeSantis after the meeting said it would be fiscally irresponsible to include increased revenues in the budget, even though he personally thinks they are likely to happen, because there is no guarantee that these revenues will occur.

“It’s irresponsible to have a budget that’s not extremely conservative,” DeSantis said. “A conservative budget is, what I would consider, a worst-case scenario budget. You want to know, if everything stays the same and everything costs as much as expected, you’re overstating appropriations and understating revenues, and you want to know that you can you get by. It’s the budget. It’s just being responsible.

The City of Gloversville’s 2023 budget leaves the city’s property tax rate at $19.45, Gloversville’s lowest inflation-adjusted tax rate since the mid-1990s.

Final budget cuts included $222,279 broken down into $129,579 saved by not funding the 36th and 37th police officers and $92,700 from the fire department and building inspector, most from eliminating the line budget of $50,000 for the demolition of debris from the fires, shifting that cost, if it occurs, to the city’s $300,000 emergency budget for 2023.

The council approved an additional revenue line of $42,112 from the Fulton County Regional Growth Center by paying its 50% share of a bond the city borrowed to pay for the demolition of the Littauer Building on South Main Street.