Plattsburgh common councilors have stalled in their negotiations over a proposed 2021 budget. But most of Thursday’s meeting focused on an effort to annex a 224-acre parcel of land from the adjacent town.
The Plattsburgh Common Council reviewed two resolutions focused on the city’s on-going attempts to annex 224 acres of land from the Town of Plattsburgh. The measures authorize the city to file documents in compliance with the state Environmental Review act and also determines annexation of the land adjacent to Rugar Street is in the overall public interest. Outgoing Democratic Mayor Colin Read said the city has been working for years to reach this point. “If we can expand this set of properties that has the added effect of adding revenue but also potentially lowering the tax rate for everybody else.”
Ward 3 Democrat Elizabeth Gibbs was assessing the financial benefits for the city. "Annexing it opens up development opportunities but in the immediate moment for me it comes down to well what are we paying in taxes for property that we already own and how much do we pay a year in taxes? You said about 70,000?"
Mike Kelly: "That’s combined town tax, school board and county tax."
During public comments Town of Plattsburgh Senior Planner Trevor Cole outlined a number of problems he has with the annexation resolution. “Overall of course the town objects to the annexation. With your resolution tonight I wanted to point out: one has the city budgeted for the required 1,000 feet of water main extension? Has the city budgeted for the thousand feet of Rugar Street road rehabilitation. Finally the city has asserted that future impacts to the town and city from this development would be well regulated and reviewed through the public site plan review process. However the city has proposed an amendment to their local law that would exempt such review on city owned properties.”
The council’s budget officer had wanted the proposed 2021 city budget passed by November 19th but delayed action when it became clear other councilors disagreed with proposed cuts. A series of workshops have been held but councilors have yet to reach consensus on the proposed 2021 budget. During Finance and Budget reports Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly, who is the budget officer, explained efforts to break the impasse. “The finance committee met and we think we’ve come up with yet another compromise budget that will allow us to keep our staff in place. I know that’s a big concern from some of our councilors, no layoffs. And I say well maybe there’s another way. Maybe if truly do have attrition and do not replace those employees who have departed then we can have a lower tax rate and we can also honor that desire to not lay anyone off.”
Former city councilor Rachelle Armstrong disagrees with Councilor Kelly’s approach and feels a better option has been offered. “I would like to register my support for Councilor Gibbs’ public safety budget. She has taken a measured position, a researched position, and it’s the middle ground. And I encourage you to not undertake any changes to personnel and operations that have not fully been vetted or researched and perhaps might have unforeseen impacts on city services.”
The annexation resolutions passed unanimously.
A budget workshop will be held at City Hall Monday, December 7th at 3 p.m. in the Old Common Council Chambers.