Gloversville council sets special meeting for 2023 budget cuts

Exterior photo of Gloversville City Hall at 3 Frontage Road in Gloversville. Aug. 1, 2021.

Exterior photo of Gloversville City Hall at 3 Frontage Road in Gloversville. Aug. 1, 2021.

GLOVERSVILLE – The Gloversville Common Council will consider an additional $222,279 to Mayor Vince DeSantis’ proposed 2023 city budget during a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The council had already reduced DeSantis’ original $21.5 million proposal by approximately $908,645 during a series of budget review hearings with the city’s department heads, but the process still left an approximately $2.3 million projected budget deficit.

DeSantis said it’s been his goal to reduce the projected deficit down to about $2 million, because he thinks a significant portion of the deficit won’t actually happen due to the city being very conservative with its revenue and cost estimates.

“My suggestion to the council was that I go back to the department heads because they know what they can cut, because they know their operations better than we do, and maybe there are some areas they can creatively cut more,” DeSantis said. “Normally, we would have set a public hearing for the budget at our [Tuesday], which would be for Nov. 8. My suggestion to them was lets slow this down, let the department heads find creative solutions and give [Finance Commissioner] Tammie [Weiterschan] some time to look at revenues and all of that.”

Fulton, Montgomery counties

Currently the city’s preliminary 2023 budget includes $18.3 million in revenue broken down into these estimates:

  • Total property tax levy plus PILOT agreements — $7.6 million
  • Sales tax — $4.5 million
  • State Aid — $2.3 million
  • Utilities/franchise fees — $420,000
  • SMART Waters — $660,000
  • Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) — $800,000
  • Transit — $560,018
  • City fees — $1.5 million

The $18.3 million revenue estimate for 2023 would be about $1.5 million less than the city’s revenues in 2021 which were $19.8 million. Weiterschan Thursday said the city is currently on pace to collect $19.7 million in revenues for 2022.

DeSantis said it is reasonable to assume city revenues will be at least roughly equal in 2023 to the prior two years, which is why he’s hopeful at least half of the projected budget deficit won’t happen.

All $222,279 from the new cuts the council will consider Tuesday come from the police ($129,579) and fire ($92,700) departments.

Weiterschan said all of the reduced spending for the police comes from eliminating the salary funding for a 36th and 37th police officer for the department, which had been included in the 2022 budget as part of a compromise that has come to be known as the “two officer solution” plan, originally proposed by 3rd Ward Councilwoman Betsy Batchelor.

During the 2022 budget process both DeSantis and former Councilman-at-large William Rowback Jr., who were running against each other for mayor at the time, had supported adding four additional police officers to the GPD, which would have brought their total roster from 35 to 39.

Fulton, Montgomery counties

The council instead agreed to the two officer solution plan of allowing GPD to hire up to 37 officers in 2022, in order to alleviate the increased workload the department has complained of since the passage of New York state’s bail and discovery law reforms, but the deal also required the department to go back down to 35 officers as police officers retire.

For 2022 the GPD has often had fewer than 35 officers and was never able to come close to the 37 officer limit, unable amid an apparent labor shortage in Fulton County to find enough young recruits capable of passing both the written and physical portions of the police civil service exam.

After the GPD 2023 budget presentation Oct. 19 Captain Mike Garavelli said the GPD will likely be at 29 officers soon, after one of its officers leaves for a job with the New York state Police. He said he’s looking at a couple of potential lateral transfers from other departments to help get the police force’s roster back above 30 and closer to its 35 officer limit for 2023.

Weiterschan Thursday said she hasn’t calculated the payroll savings yet for the city being unable to fill about 8 police officer jobs that were funded in the 2022 budget, but she said the savings are likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“That’s not how we want to save money though,” Weiterschan said.

The 2023 police budget includes $76,000 to hire two police clerks to help handle the increased paperwork and data processing demands from the bail and discovery reform laws.

Weiterschan said about $50,000 of the $92,700 cost cutting from the fire department budget comes from the money the department uses to fund demolition work that is sometimes required after a fire.

“If there is a fire, we’ll have to fund that from [the $300,000] contingency [budget line] next year,” Weiterschan said.

Weiterschan said currently the preliminary budget is balanced using about $2.2 million from the city’s estimated $7.8 million of fund balance reserves of unspent revenues. She said the 2022 budget had originally included a $1.4 million deficit paid for from the city’s fund balance, but the city is currently on pace to only spend about $600,000 of that deficit estimate thanks to lower than expected costs.

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