Councilors set to vote on $44.35M budget

Published Oct 23, 2018 at 4:00pm

After weeks of work sessions with administration officials, the Common Council is expected to vote on Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo's proposed $44.35 million 2019 budget this week. The proposal contains no increase in property taxes nor any increase in water, sewer and refuse rates.

The seven-member body meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers at City Hall, 198 N. Washington St.

Before voting on the budget, councilors will vote on a proposed amendment to last year's budget allowing for 2018 funds to be used for Parks Department purchases originally slated for 2019. The fiscal maneuver was made necessary when the price of rock salt used in snow removal jumped by 20 percent in the middle of the budget process — leaving City Hall to shore up $100,000 in unforeseen expenses.

In addition to the changes to Parks' budget, councilors closed the gap by culling $30,110 from Police Department funding and by reducing information technology spending by $18,490.

Councilors will also vote to accept a $250,000 state Department of Transportation grant for work at the train station, including "elevator upgrades/modernization and drainage improvements." This grant, Mayor Izzo said Friday, was in the works before part of the station's underground corridor collapsed in July — as such, the mayor said, the funds are not earmarked for and cannot be used to address that collapse.

The mayor added that the city is still "waiting for the paperwork from Albany" to begin work on repairs to the underground corridor.

The council will also vote on an ordinance to establish a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement with AES Distributed Energy Inc., a Boulder, Colorado firm that plans to "build and operate a Solar Energy System" in Rome's outside district, according to city documents.

While state law provides a property tax exemption for commercial solar panel owners during their first 15 years of operation, Rome's PILOT program will allow the city to collect non-tax payments from AES based on its property's assessed value — collecting 25 percent of that value for 5 years, then 50 percent for another 5, then 75 percent through the year 2033.

AES's intended Rome location, 6607 Bartlett Road, is currently valued at $1,073,680 according to city records.

Also on the agenda is a memorandum of understanding between the Police Department and the state police, allowing RPD to use a state owned firearms range on Route 26 near the Mohawk Correctional Facility. Per the agreement, Rome police will provide their own ammunition, targets, target backers, and equipment. According to the document, the agreement will stand indefinitely with no set expiration date.

Councilors will also vote on a small change to the 2018 budget to allow for the purchase of a trenching bucket for an excavator. All but $1,000 of the cost of the purchase is covered by the city's insurance carrier, and the proposed budget amendment will move that amount to the appropriate account.

Also before the council:

  • Three ordinances approving the sale of city owned properties to private buyers with no rehabilitation agreement. The properties are 413 W. Liberty St. for $1,800; 820 Eire Boulevard W. for $35,100; 301 Fairfax St. for $2,000.
  • Four ordinances approving the sale of city owned properties with agreements to rehabilitate those properties. The properties are 415 W. Liberty St. for $8,700; 111 N. Doxtator St. for $3,500; 1005 East Ave. for $5,000; 113 Locomotive Ave. for $3,000.
  • The appointment of a commissioner of deeds, a notary-like position that must be confirmed by the county legislature as well. A commissioner of deeds would have the powers to administer oaths or acknowledge proof of signature in the City of Rome.
  • The cancellation of the scheduled Common Council meetings on Nov. 28 and Dec. 26. If approved, the council will meet only twice more this year.