Schenectady County

Rotterdam town layoffs avoided in alternate budget from board members

To cheers from a standing-room-only audience of Rotterdam workers, members of the Town Board submitt

To cheers from a standing-room-only audience of Rotterdam workers, members of the Town Board submitted a 2012 budget plan that restores all 16 positions trimmed in Supervisor Frank Del Gallo’s tentative proposal.

Board members Nicola DiLeva, Matt Martin and Wayne Calder introduced a budget that is slightly below the $20.1 million spending plan submitted by Del Gallo earlier this month. The new budget taps some of the more than $2 million existing in special district fund balances to offset expenses from the general fund directly related to the administration of those districts.

“We checked with other towns and we checked with the city, DiLeva said as she introduced the new plan. “They all do it this way.”

The new plan restores jobs for 13 workers slated to be laid off under Del Gallo’s budget and keeps three jobs that would have been eliminated through attrition. The three board members consequently reduced the unemployment line item by $96,000 and the Police Department’s retirement allowance by $175,987.

“We were never given a reason why they were cut,” DiLeva said of the jobs Del Gallo proposed eliminating.

Other items will pressure certain departments into reducing costs. Police overtime was reduced by $30,000 and holiday pay by $12,000. Town Hall and the Police Department may also be a bit colder under the newly proposed budget, which calls for $11,500 reduction in heating costs at both buildings.

The new proposal also restores the salaries of elected officials: $10,000 for board members and $13,000 for Del Gallo. Del Gallo’s proposal eliminated the salaries for all board members and trimmed the pay of most elected officials by 10 percent.

The budget also pinches small amounts of money throughout. For instance, $450 was removed for publication subscriptions for the supervisor’s office. The dog warden’s pay was returned to $5,000 under the new plan. A line item for decorations was eliminated at a savings of $1,000.

DiLeva said, “It took a lot of work, but it’s a sound budget.” DiLeva and Martin were among a trio that drastically altered Del Gallo’s tentative 2011 budget last year. They were joined by former board member Gerard Parisi in submitting a budget that slashed $190,000 in spending, tapped additional fund balance and halved the residential tax increase proposed by Del Gallo.

The proposal introduced Wednesday works within the fiscal framework presented in Del Gallo’s initial proposal. DiLeva said the budget also stays beneath the 2 percent tax cap mandated by the state.

Town Comptroller Anthony Tangarone was unaware of the altered budget proposal until he was handed one at Wednesday’s meeting. On first glance, he said the creative accounting employed by the board seemed legitimate.

“I’ve got to do some homework,” he said after the meeting. “But it sounds feasible.”

Del Gallo opposed the changes, because he didn’t have time to review the proposal. Like Tangarone, he received the changes along with the rest of the public Wednesday evening.

“I’m going to vote no until I see all the changes here,” he said.

The board must yet take final action on its spending plan; towns must adopt their budgets for the coming year by Nov. 20 under state law.

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