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Plattsburgh Councilors Hear Budget Update

City Chamberlain Richard Marks provides a budget update to the Plattsburgh Common Council
Pat Bradley/WAMC
City Chamberlain Richard Marks provides a budget update to the Plattsburgh Common Council

Plattsburgh City Councilors have received a status report on the city budget and the implications for the 2020 budget proposal they are reviewing.
The city chamberlain serves as the treasurer for Plattsburgh and provides regular updates to city leaders on its fiscal status.

The Common Council’s Finance and Budget Committee held a 2020 budget session Thursday to receive an update on current finances and the impact the proposed budget. Armed with charts, Excel and Powerpoint, Chamberlain Richard Marks showed that the city is having a good year, is meeting fiscal goals and currently has a surplus.  “Compared to last year we’re ahead. The way to look at that quickly is say OK, I’ve got these expenses left, this is available budget, here’s what I have left to spend. But add this back to it because this is just a transfer to capital funding and then you look at what you have left in revenue plus your general fund surplus so far and that will give you an idea of where we’re going to wind up at the end of the year. Provided what we’re budgeted here is how it’s going to actually work out. But add that back to this and you’re ahead 400,000.”
Patrick McFarlin:  “I have no idea what you just did.”

Although councilors like Ward 5 Democrat Patrick McFarlin appeared a bit confused they were pleased with the level of the surplus.  “So your best guess is we’re coming in at about 80 percent of our budget of the surplus?”
Marks:  “Yeah.”
McFarlin:  “That’s not bad.”
Marks:  “And depending on how? we economize and how revenue might come in higher than expected it could be better than that.”
Peter Ensel:  “Have we had any updates on sales tax at all, Richard?”
Marks:  “About 4 percent ahead of last year: 4.3.”

Marks is also enthusiastic that a long-awaited and delayed on-line payment system will soon be deployed city-wide.  “This is an on-line feature for processing payments where we re-direct through a shopping cart to our credit card merchant and the processing of the credit card or the e-check transaction takes place with the credit card merchant’s website not ours.  But it’s an instant update to their records in the city. We’re doing some final testing and I think we’re going to have it available to our customers probably by next week. And a lot of people are going to want the auto-pay feature. We already know that there are at least 500 people waiting to set up.”
McFarlin:  “How do you know that people have they told you?”
Marks:  “They’ve been asking about it every day for the last two years.  I’ve got a guy that comes to my door once a month and knocks on the door and he says are you going to get this done or aren’t you?”

Finance and Budget committee chair Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly reminded councilors that all recommended adjustments to Mayor Colin Read’s spending plan should be submitted by November 14th so they can be incorporated into the final budget.  A vote on the 2020 budget is planned for November 21st.

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