Both last year and this year, the City of Plattsburgh’s property tax rate went down. For next year, Mayor Chris Rosenquest is calling for it to remain flat at 11.370831%.
The mayor noted in his annual budget address that if each city department were to get all the budget items it asked for, the city’s expenses would increase next year by more than 10%. That would necessitate nearly $1.8 million in additional tax revenue, which would require a tax increase on Lake City residents.
Amid the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, Rosenquest wanted to propose a 2022 budget with the same property tax rate as this year. He said his $59 million proposal succeeds at that.
“This budget maintains a 0% increase to the tax rate, a 1.9% increase in expenses over 2021, a 6.17% increase in revenues over 2021,” the mayor said. “This proposed budget stays well below the state-mandated tax cap.”
The next step is a budget hearing on October 28. The city charter gives the Common Council until January 14, 2022 to pass a budget, modifying the mayor’s proposal along the way as it sees fit.
Another key piece of business Thursday night concerned the Plattsburgh City Fire Department. Of the 17 qualified drivers it had at the start of the year, Chief Scott Lawliss told the council members that it’s lost nine of them. The department has gone over budget with overtime pay, separation pay and other costs.
The council narrowly approved a transfer of more than $460,000 from the city’s general fund to cover those costs. Ward 3 Councilor Elizabeth Gibbs, the city’s mayor pro tem, cast one of three ‘no’ votes.
“I asked for this at the beginning of the year — a strategic operations plan to get the expenses under control,” Gibbs said to Chief Lawliss. “So, before our next Public Safety (Committee) meeting in about two weeks, can you have that for us?”
“I can,” the chief answered.
Local 22 & Local 44 News also asked Rosenquest and Gibbs about new developments in the bullying allegation she publicly made against him in late September. They both said there aren’t any.
“The mayor has asked that there be a mediator brought in to work on the relationship between the two of us — the working relationship between the two of us — and I am completely amenable to that,” Gibbs said.
“We’ve been working well together since then, and we’re pretty much just taking the step of giving some space to it,” Rosenquest said. “But like I said, the offer of mediation is out there; it just needs to be organized and actively pursued.”
The Common Council also set public hearings for October 21 about the potential annexation of two parcels of land from the Town of Plattsburgh.