The Plattsburgh Common Council met for the last time in 2020 Thursday night and their agenda included final passage of the city’s 2021 budget.
Outgoing Democratic Mayor Colin Read had presented a nearly $58 million proposed budget to city council in June, hoping for early passage. But in mid-September councilors sent it back to the mayor requesting he find reductions of at least 10 percent and return it to the council by October 8th. Since the mayor resubmitted the fiscal plan on October 5th councilors have been debating the budget and holding budget workshops since mid-November. Ward 5 Democrat Patrick McFarlin placed the 2021 fiscal plan on the agenda for a final vote. “We were doing a lot of budget workshops. There’s a lot of compromises. A 2% tax deduction. I know it’s not as much as Mike (Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly) wanted but I think a balanced budget with a 2% tax deduction in this year with COVID still ravaging the country I think that’s a good result.”
Council Budget Officer Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly had hoped that a 15% tax cut could be negotiated. “But that proved not to be politically possible or financially possible. Even a 2% tax cut means a great deal to our taxpayers and it means a great deal to the future of our city in terms of development.”
The budget plan passed unanimously.
Last month Ward 1 councilor Ira Barbell resigned, citing family health problems. The mayor then had 30 days to decide whether to name a replacement to fill the term or call a special election. During the meeting Mayor Read nominated Jaime Canales to serve until Dec 31, 2021. “Mr. Canales is a valued member of our local business community. He has no party affiliation at this time. Approximately a dozen people as you know approached me who wished to fill this seat and I’m very impressed with the credentials. I think you’re also the pastor at a local church as well. Certain to be a welcome addition in the diversity you can bring to the common council.”
His nomination passed on a 3-2 vote. Patrick McFarlin voted no, saying he is unfamiliar with the nominee. Ward 3 Democrat Elizabeth Gibbs also voted no. “There is nothing personal behind my vote. I just think that this appointment really should go to special election and let the people decide.”
City councilors also voted to authorize the Mayor Pro Tem to sign an agreement with SymQuest for IT, network security and antivirus services. Mayor Read had recused himself from any action regarding the contract. Some councilors, including Ward 4 Democrat Steve Brodi, questioned Mike Kelly over correspondence from local IT providers questioning the bid process. “We had several bids and all of them were good I’d say. But the best one by far was the SymQuest bid.”
Brodie: “But if it’s not the same thing how do you know that your competitors wouldn’t be able to come up with the same, a better deal or a better price?”
Kelly: “It is the same thing. They all responded to the same RFP Steve so all of their responses were considered.”
This was the last meeting of the Plattsburgh Common Council in 2020 and therefore outgoing Mayor Read’s last meeting with the group. Incoming Democratic Mayor Chris Rosenquest and two new members of the council will be sworn in January 1st .