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Plattsburgh Common Council holds organizational meeting and then passes 2022 city budget

Plattsburgh City Hall (file)
Pat Bradley/WAMC
/
Plattsburgh City Hall (file)

The Plattsburgh Common Council held its first meeting of the year Thursday night, choosing a new Mayor Pro Tem and passing the city’s 2022 budget.

Councilors breezed through both their organizational and regular session agendas with two of the six councilors attending virtually.

During the organizational meeting councilors approved annual investment and fiscal policies along with meeting time and guidelines. Councilors also chose Ward 4 Democrat Jennifer Tallon to serve as Clerk of the Council. Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly was unanimously voted Mayor Pro Tem, replacing Ward 3 Democrat Elizabeth Gibbs. Kelly previously served as Mayor Pro Tem in 2019 and 2020 and said he wanted to serve again because he likes Democratic Mayor Chris Rosenquest.

“I think he has a tremendous amount of potential as a leader and I want to work alongside him.”

During the council’s regular session, which immediately followed the organizational meeting, councilors passed the city’s 2022 budget on a 5 to 1 vote. Ward 6 Democrat Jeff Moore explained his no vote.

“I really wish we could have given some money back to the taxpayers, especially the ones who endured the double digit increases in their taxes, not only the city taxes but county and school," explained Moore. "So although I do agree with the budget I wish we could have gave something back and for that reason I would vote no.”

Kelly, who voted yes on the budget, says Moore made a very good point.

“The Mayor’s budget when it came out in October had a zero balance at the end of the year. In other words for every dollar that we took in we were going to spend it. And Jeff and myself and some other councilors worked very hard to see if we could craft some savings and end up with a little surplus at the end of the year. We were able to do that," said Kelly. "Unfortunately we weren’t able to return any savings back to the taxpayers with the budget that we came up with and we are determined in 2023 to create a small surplus and return money to taxpayers.”

Mayor Rosenquest says he had approached councilors with options.

“When this budget came out to be quite frank the question that I asked the council was would you rather put money into the General Fund at the end of the year or would you rather have a tax cut? The majority of the council said they would rather look to put money into the General Fund rather than do a tax cut." Rosenquest continued, "I felt this budget was a good budget. It was a balanced budget. When I proposed it was zero across the board and I think that we can do something similar if not do a little bit better coming into next year’s budget.”

The nearly $59 million 2022 budget does not change the city’s tax rate, according to Mayor Rosenquest.

“There has been a reassessment of properties and those folks will see a change in their tax bill but it will be at the same rate that it was last year at 11.37 per thousand," the mayor said. "We’ll look at making some adjustments this year with the savings we were able to realize coming into the end of the year and we’ll do good for the city.”

Rosenquest also says he is excited to begin work with new Mayor Pro Tem Mike Kelly.

“He’s the most senior councilor on our board here. I’m his fourth administration, his fourth mayor. And I think that working with Councilor Kelly will be a positive move not only for my office but for the council. Hopefully him bringing his experience and expertise and wisdom to this process will help smooth communications between my office and the council." Rosenquest concludes, "I very much do look forward to working with him.”

The Plattsburgh city budget maintains a tax rate of 11.37 percent but increases the tax levy by 2.4 percent. The budget is below the state’s mandated tax cap.