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December 28, 2013

City making final tweaks to 2014 budget

PLATTSBURGH — City of Plattsburgh councilors, new and old, continue to pound away at the 2014 budget, but no major changes are expected.

“Some things may be shifted around a bit, but I don’t see anything on the table that will raise the taxes,” Councilor and Mayor-elect James Calnon (I-Ward 4) said recently.

The outgoing council has been working on the budget since it was presented by Mayor Donald Kasprzak on Oct. 1. The mayor’s spending plan increases the tax levy 2.32 percent, the maximum allowed under the state’s tax-cap formula.

The tentative tax rate is slated to be $10.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The 2013 rate was $10.76.

The budget must be approved by Jan. 15.

‘HARD TO ANALYZE’

In the final budget sessions of the year, the council-elect, which features six new councilors plus Calnon, has been going over the $54 million spending plan.

In transition years in the past, the outgoing Common Council usually finishes the budget and the new councilors stamp their approval before the mid-January deadline.

But Calnon said he felt it was important that the incoming council have a say, since its members will be in office next year while the budget is in effect.

Councilor-elect Paul “Crusher” O’Connell (D-Ward 4) expressed concern about the process, saying it is difficult to analyze the spending plan in such a short period of time since it is so new to the incoming councilors.

“We’re letting you do this because you are going to have to live with this budget your first year in office,” Calnon told O’Connell at a recent budget meeting.

CONTRACTED SERVICES

Councilor-elect Michael Kelly (D-Ward 2) said he was concerned about the amount of contracted services the city has in the budget. He noted it contains about $2.2 million of services under contract for 2014, which is 8.6 percent higher than in 2013.

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