The Plattsburgh Common Council met Thursday evening for its second full meeting under a new mayor and there were some procedural differences evident.
The Plattsburgh Common Council now meets bi-weekly rather than weekly. One of the reasons is to allow councilors more time for committee work and meetings.
One indication that the regular council meeting will be somewhat different was the advance notice of the meeting. In the past only the agenda was included. This time the full text of all resolutions to be considered was also sent. As the meeting started Thursday Mayor Chris Rosenquest, a Democrat, set a quick pace. “Before voting on the following resolutions I do want to note that the majority of these resolutions have been thoroughly discussed by the appropriate council and department heads. Now we’re now going to take action on those items in large part due to the recommendation of the committee that those resolutions have come from.”
Among the items listed were revising capital projects for the Broad Street parking lot, Farmers’ Market Improvements and a memorial parking plaza; approving year end budget adjustments and approving Arts Park construction contracts. As they reached the third item in less than 3 minutes without discussion, Ward 5 Democrat Patrick McFarlin wondered if they should weigh in with more details. “I’m just thinking maybe some small discussion. I know these were discussed in detail two weeks ago at the Finance and Community Development committee. But I’m just thinking for anyone who’s watching online they might want just like a brief description of what it is in case they didn’t watch the meeting two weeks ago.”
Rosenquest: “You know if we get into discussion of every single item that we’ve already discussed we’re going to be here for quite some time. So I would recommend you know that’s the reason why we have those committee meetings. That they’re public. They’re publically streamed. We do invite the public to attend those meetings to hear those conversations and the detailed discussions that we have of each item. Other than that we’re probably just going to be rehashing the same conversations that we’ve been hashing.”
There was discussion on a few items including a resolution to adopt a fine structure for false alarms and a registration charge on alarm systems. Initially registration fees are set at zero and there are incremental fines for false alarms. Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly is concerned about potential costs to the city. “This fee that we’re talking about, or non-fee I guess I should say, somebody has to do the work for that. That means that the taxpayers are paying for that service or that requirement that we have for people who install alarms.”
Rosenquest: “The fee for the alarm system permit is not an installation of any alarm system. People who own alarms would need to register their alarm. But it’s more of the expense that the city has to bear when we send out our emergency response and there’s nothing to respond to.”
Kelly: “I understand that but there is a cost for registration. If we don’t charge the alarm holders we’re essentially charging the taxpayers.”
The city also re-established a landlord/tenant advisory committee that Mayor Rosenquest said will have a narrow focus. “This committee is tasked only with defining the fee schedule for registering into the rental registry. I’m asking that this committee take the next four weeks to resolve that question and then after that one month the committee will be dissolved. However there are a number of other concerns that we don’t want to ignore in our community.”