Montgomery County

Amsterdam’s mayor vetoes effort to allow fund transfers

Mayor Ann Thane has vetoed a resolution that requested approval from the state Legislature to transf
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Mayor Ann Thane has vetoed a resolution that requested approval from the state Legislature to transfer money from the sewer fund to the general fund to help balance the city’s finances.

But the Common Council is poised to override her veto with a supermajority of four votes.

It is currently against city and state law to draw money from the sewer fund, so the council is seeking approval from the state Legislature to introduce legislation legalizing revenue transfers from the sewer fund to the general fund.

Last month, the council sent letters to Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and state Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, seeking approval from the state Legislature to use money from the sewer fund to help balance the city budget. However, the council has not drafted legislation; it sent the letters to gauge the legislators’ feelings about the measure.

The council took its first step toward legalizing the measure last week when it passed a local law to amend the city charter to allow revenue transfers from the sewer fund to the general fund.

It is looking to draw roughly $500,000 from the sewer fund.

But the last day of state Legislature’s session is June 17, increasing the likelihood that Thane could take no stance on the law until after that date.

The Amsterdam Common Council voted 4-1 last week to adopt a $29.26 million 2015-16 budget with a 0.92 percent decrease in the tax levy.

The vote came after weeks of debate following Thane’s original proposal, which included a tax levy increase of 1.07 percent.

Thane said the proposed transfer “appears to be intended as a short-term solution to funding recurring costs.”

The issue in the city has become politicized with Thane and the lone Democrat on the council, Valerie Beekman, taking a stance in opposition to it, while the four Republicans on the council have sought its approval.

First Ward Alderman Ed Russo, a Republican, said he will vote to override the veto and believes the council will overturn the mayor’s decision.

“I just want to do what’s right,” he said. “We have bene going in the wrong direction for years and this will help put us the right path.”

It is not clear if Santabarbara and Amadore will support the request.

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