Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read projected in August that the city would have a budget surplus next year, but the budget adopted by the Common Council on Tuesday has an even larger surplus than he expected.
“The (general fund) revenues will be in the neighborhood of $23 million and change, and the expenses in the neighborhood of $22 million and change, so we’re anticipating a surplus next year of $676,000,” Councilor Mike Kelly said. Kelly is the Plattsburgh Common Council’s budget officer.
He said that after the council members worked closely with city department heads, two major areas of the budget, including the Recreation Department, have changed since August.
“We’re increasing the fees for all those activities so that the people who actually use those services and activities will pay a little more to pay for them and the average taxpayer will pay a little less,” Kelly said.
The council approved some of those fee increases Tuesday night, raising soccer field use rates and event rates for the Crete Center.
Kelly said that overtime pay for city employees is the other major budget area to see some changes. “We realize that some of our departments are a bit challenged when it comes to overtime, so we’re working with them to get them to reduce their overtime costs and we anticipate a lot of savings there as well,” he said.
For every $1,000 of property tax value, Plattsburgh’s tax rate this year is $12.20. The mayor’s 2020 budget proposal reduced that rate to $11.99, and Kelly said the newly-adopted budget reduces it even further, to about $11.65. “It returns some of the savings we’re getting from our operational efficiencies to our taxpayers, and we’re pretty excited about that,” he said.
The city will use the surplus to help build up its general find balance, which was depleted when Read took office, and allow road maintenance and road construction projects to continue, the mayor said.
“We’ve accomplished a lot this year, and I’m very proud of everything we’ve done as a council this year,” said Councilor Elizabeth Gibbs.
In other business, Councilor Peter Ensel proposed a new local law that would require landlords who rent out high-occupancy units to have a city-issued rental permit. The city will hold a public hearing about this measure on December 12 at 5:00 p.m., shortly before the start of that evening’s Common Council meeting.