The Plattsburgh Common Council held its first meeting of the year Thursday. Following the organizational meeting the new mayor and council held their first formal session.
Due to COVID-19 precautions half of the councilors were at City Hall. The other half joined virtually. It was the first meeting for newly sworn in Democratic Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest and two new councilors: Ward 4 Democrat Jennifer Tallon, who was elected in November, and independent Jaime Canales, who was appointed by former Mayor Colin Read to fill the term of former councilor Ira Barbell.
During the organization portion of the meeting councilors decided to change their meeting schedule from weekly to twice a month, on the first and third Thursday. Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly was apprehensive about the reduced frequency. “Mayor Kasprzak who I served under had weekly meetings. And Mayor Calnon who I served under next had bi-weekly meetings. Mayor Read changed it back to weekly meetings and you’re changing it back to a bi-weekly meeting. Just a little history for you there. I hope that you will consider this as an experiment and if it does not work out to the advantage of the city that you’d consider going back to that perhaps next year.”
Ward 5 Democrat Patrick McFarlin doesn’t think fewer regular common council meetings will reduce their overall workload. “To further the discussion I will note that the committee meetings we just adopted do require the full council to meet at least three weeks out of the month and a lot of times those three weeks we’ll be meeting twice in a week. So there still will be quite a lot of meetings.”
The Common Council approved the 2021 budget in December and the new panel certified the plan during the meeting. Councilor Canales, who was not on the council when the budget was crafted, requested the vote be tabled. “After looking at everything I just in order to better represent my ward I want to look at this a little further and see if we can postpone the vote on this until next Thursday. This is just a lot to look at and vote on tonight given the time frame that this was actually given out. I’ll vote on it. I have no problem. But I would like to in the future have a little bit more time to view the documents or what’s being proposed in order for me to vote intelligently and ethically.”
Ward 3 Democrat Elizabeth Gibbs said a delay wasn’t practical with their new meeting schedule. “By charter rules our deadline is the 14th. So we can’t put it off until the next council meeting. That would be beyond our timeframe within the charter.”
Ward 6 Democrat Jeff Moore explained their action is a formality to certify work that was done at the end of the year. “We did work very hard on this budget and we did complete it just before the holidays but were not able to meet to finalize it. So you know.”
Canales: “I trust your judgement.”
Councilor Elizabeth Gibbs was elected by the council to serve as Mayor Pro Tem.