After two straight years of lower property tax rates, Mayor Chris Rosenquest’s $59 million municipal spending plan for 2020 would keep the rate flat at roughly 11.4%.
With rising prices and the costs of a pandemic, one Plattsburgh resident who spoke at Thursday’s public hearing on the budget, the status quo may be the best the Lake City could hope for.
“I want to make sure that we’re prepared, and we’re communicating with what those costs look like for next year and the year after that, so that the community understands that might not be the case next year,” resident Doug Butdorf said. “But it’s the case now, and I think we should be happy about that.”
Rosenquest said the city has funding for increased payroll to help meet his stated goal of investing as much as possible in the city’s work force. He noted that city employees should have actually been paid some of this money several years ago.
But Sue Moore was unhappy with what she sees after years of belt-tightening under former Mayor Colin Read. “I find it insulting and discouraging that we are considering adding this amount of additional positions after all that had to be done to get us to this point, where we’re finally, you know, not in debt,” she said.
A former Plattsburgh school board member — who once briefly ran for Congress — also took notice.
“Pay, at least for what I had time to look through, went up by quite a lot,” Steve Krieg said. “I agree that we should be paying our employees well. I just — I always knew, when I was looking at budgets, if there were pay increases, we should ask why.”
The Common Council has until January 14 to pass a 2022 budget. If the council doesn’t do that, Rosenquest’s proposal will automatically become a binding city budget as written.