Plattsburgh Budget Vote Delayed To December 4th | WAMC

Plattsburgh Budget Vote Delayed To December 4th

Nov 13, 2020

A controversial early deadline to vote on the city of Plattsburgh’s 2021 budget has been changed. But only a few weeks remain for councilors to review the fiscal plan.

Outgoing Democratic Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read submitted his proposed $58 million 2021 budget in June.  Common councilors sent it back in mid-September requesting reductions of at least 10 percent by October 8th.  The mayor resubmitted his budget and Council budget officer Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly set a November 19th deadline for final passage.  
In the wake of criticism over the budget and the deadline, Kelly acknowledged during Thursday night’s meeting that the budget would fail if the vote is held next week.  “I would like to suggest that we not pass the budget next Thursday. But I would also like to suggest in addition to that that we have a couple of workshops where the council meets together and discusses the budget.”

Kelly, who won re-election by 13 votes, offered an alternative plan to be considered during the workshops.  “I would recommend that we adopt a 5-5-5 plan in which we reduce taxes for 3 consecutive years 5% per year.  You were unwilling to give the taxpayers a 15% tax cut next year, which of course would be my preference. But if you’re not willing to do that if it feels better and more comfortable to you then let’s implement the 5-5-5 plan.”

Ward 4 Democrat Steve Brodi was appointed to the seat and will leave the council at the end of the year.  “If we are going to go with the 5-5-5- plan won’t the budget now have to be revised all over again?”
Kelly: “No.”
Brodi:  “Why.”
Kelly:  “No. The easiest thing to do would be to pass the mayor’s budget as it stands. But obviously we don’t have the votes for it. So we can figure out what we can add back into the budget and why so that we arrive at a 5% tax decrease for our taxpayers.”

A discussion over calculations and what had been agreed to in a previous meeting led to a clash between City Chamberlain Richard Marks and Councilor Kelly.  “I agreed that we could not recognize OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) costs because it’s something that you have to recognize as a future cost and retired employees….”
Councilor Kelly:  “We’re not going to solve this tonight so I’d like to ask you…”
Marks:  “Well I know you don’t want to listen to the rest of it I get that.”
Kelly:  “You’re wrong and I…”
Marks: “I know that’s what’s you’ve been trying to tell me all along is that I’m wrong.”
Kelly:  “What I’m trying to tell you is that I want to understand it.”
Marks:  “Then I think you should come down and sit down with me and go over it.”
Kelly:  “And we will do that. And Mr. marks you will do what you are directed to do by this council.”
Councilor Elizabeth Gibbs:  “Mike I think that’s a little unnecessary.”
Kelly: “We appreciate your input. But we’re your boss.”
Marks:  “I think the taxpayers are.”

Councilor Brodi offered an apology to Marks and chastised Kelly.  “I wish as a council member to apologize to Mr. Marks.”
Kelly:  “I’m not apologizing to Mr. Marks.”
Brodi:  “I know you’re not but I am because I’m ashamed of it and I want to apologize for myself at least to Mr. Marks for the way he was treated and spoken to.”
Marks:  “Thank you.”
Brodi:  “He is a steward of the city of the most diligence. And I remember sitting here listening to budgets that other people made that were millions of dollars off and he pointed out errors and said no. And here we are his numbers are right. Not only that we’re $400,000 ahead.”

Earlier in the week, Democrat Chris Rosenquest won the race to replace Colin Read as mayor. The council budget workshops will be held Saturday, November 14th at 10 a.m. and Monday, November 16th at 3 p.m. in the Old Common Council Chambers. They will not be live streamed. Thursday’s city council meeting can be viewed here: